State v. Moore, Appellate Case No. 2011–191327.

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtLOCKEMY
Citation404 S.C. 634,746 S.E.2d 352
Decision Date27 September 2013
Docket NumberAppellate Case No. 2011–191327.,No. 5160.
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Ashley Eugene MOORE, Appellant.

404 S.C. 634
746 S.E.2d 352

The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Ashley Eugene MOORE, Appellant.

Appellate Case No. 2011–191327.
No. 5160.

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard April 2, 2013.
Decided July 17, 2013.

Rehearing Denied Sept. 27, 2013.


[746 S.E.2d 353]


Appellate Defender Dayne C. Phillips, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Assistant Attorney General Julie Kate Keeney, all of Columbia, for Respondent.


LOCKEMY, J.

[404 S.C. 637]Ashley Eugene Moore was convicted and sentenced for the charges of trafficking cocaine base and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. On appeal, he argues the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence discovered during a traffic stop. Specifically, he argues his continued detention was unlawful because the State did not present sufficient evidence to establish the police officer's reasonable and articulable suspicion of a serious crime. We reverse.

FACTS

Officers Dale Owens and Donnie Gilbert, Corporal Ken Hancock, and K–9 handler Deputy Jason Carraway, all with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office, were observing traffic along the I–85 corridor in Spartanburg County the evening of June 30, 2010. Around 1:10 a.m., Officer Owens observed Moore traveling at a rate above the posted speed limit of 60 miles per hour. Officer Owens began pacing Moore's vehicle 1 and determined Moore was keeping a steady speed of 70 miles per hour. Further, Moore failed to maintain his lane and crossed into the center lane from the far right-hand lane. Officer Owens initiated his blue lights, and Moore first activated his left turn signal, then his right turn signal. Officer Owens, found those actions were an indicator that Moore might be preparing to flee. Officer

[746 S.E.2d 354]

Owens testified Moore also took longer than the average time to stop and that is consistent with people who have tried to run from him in the past. After stopping his vehicle, Moore failed to release his left turn signal, and Officer Owens opined this failure indicated[404 S.C. 638]Moore's heart rate might be so accelerated he had temporarily lost his hearing capability.

When Officer Owens approached Moore's vehicle, Moore was talking on a cell phone, and Officer Owens requested Moore end the call. Officer Owens opined the average person would end a phone a call when an officer approached their vehicle. He added that drug traffickers may stay on the phone to report to a superior who needs to hear what is happening during the stop. An alcohol odor emanated from Moore's vehicle, and Moore admitted to having a couple of drinks. Officer Owens had worked on several cases in which drug traffickers were drinking alcohol, and he maintained the alcohol calmed their nerves. Moore further informed Officer Owens the vehicle was a rental and provided the rental agreement along with his driver's license. Officer Owens observed Moore's hand shaking heavily, which Officer Owens opined was a measurement of Moore's nervousness. Also during that time, Officer Owens observed Moore's carotid artery and his breathing, and consequently stated he discerned Moore's pulse and breathing were accelerated, indicating nervousness.

Moore picked up his cell phone as he obeyed a request to exit his vehicle, which Officer Owens opined was an indicator of criminal activity because the cell phone is a person's device for communication when he tries to flee. Moore then lit a cigarette as he stood outside his vehicle, and Officer Owens explained that based on his training, people sometimes light cigarettes to calm their nerves. Moore agreed to a pat-down and voluntarily raised his hands to his head, which is a position known as the “felony position.” Officer Owens felt what he perceived to be a large sum of wadded money. Moore moved the money from his front pocket to his back pocket, and Officer Owens said another alarm was triggered because Moore said he was unemployed. Officer Owens estimated the wad of money to be around one thousand dollars when he initially saw it, but subsequently, it was determined to be about six hundred dollars. Moore again admitted he had been drinking and placed his hands in his pockets with his head down, in a position Officer Owens described as a “defeated look.” Officer Owens opined this action is used to dissipate nervous energy.

[404 S.C. 639]Moore was traveling from Lawrenceville, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, to see his grandmother in Marion, North Carolina. Officer Owens testified ninety percent of the people he has arrested in major criminal drug cases have come from Atlanta. It raised some questions for Officer Owens when Moore explained he was traveling to visit his grandmother at one o'clock in the morning, especially after drinking. During questioning, Moore stated a third-party had rented the vehicle. Officer Owens explained third-party rental vehicles are one of the largest indicators of criminal activity in criminal patrol on the interstate. Officer Moore administered field sobriety tests to determine if Moore was impaired, and Moore passed two out of three. Officer Owens found Moore was not impaired and asked Moore if there was any alcohol in the vehicle. Moore denied having any alcohol, weapons, or drugs in the vehicle. Officer Owens also asked Moore if he could search the vehicle, but Moore declined consent.

Subsequently, Officer Owens decided to issue a warning ticket to Moore because he felt it would have been an injustice to arrest Moore for driving under the influence. However, he decided to detain Moore until the K–9 drug detection unit could arrive. Officer Carraway arrived after about fifteen minutes, a total of thirty-two minutes since the beginning of the traffic stop. Officer Carraway's dog alerted to an odor inside the car, and the officers searched the vehicle. A bottle of alcohol was found under the front passenger seat of the vehicle, and contraband consistent with crack cocaine was found in two containers in a bag in the trunk of the vehicle. They also found a semiautomatic weapon and a bundle of currency. Moore was then arrested.

[746 S.E.2d 355]

On October 22, 2010, Moore was indicted for trafficking cocaine base, first offense, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. The case went to trial on April 25, 2011. The State cited State v. Provet, 391 S.C. 494, 706 S.E.2d 513 (Ct.App.2011), cert. granted, Oct. 3, 2012, in support of its argument that Officer Owens had reasonable suspicion to further detain Moore beyond the scope of the initial traffic stop. It listed the following facts in support of finding a lawful detention: (1) Moore turned on his left turn signal when he was intending to turn right; (2) there was a [404 S.C. 640]distinctive odor of alcohol coming from Moore's vehicle; (3) Moore smoked two cigarettes during the traffic stop; (4) Moore failed to hang up his cell phone when Officer Owens approached; (5) Moore appeared nervous, evidenced by his shaky hands, rapid pulse, and heavy breathing; (6) Moore attempted to pick up his cell phone when Officer Moore asked him to exit the vehicle; (7) Moore had a large wad of cash on his person even though he stated he was unemployed; (8) Moore drove a vehicle rented by a third-party; (9) Moore was driving from Atlanta, a known hub for drug trafficking; and (10) Moore stated he was going to his grandmother's house, but it was already 1 a.m.

After hearing both parties' arguments and reviewing relevant case law, the trial court stated

In particular, the problem I have with the or the facts that are revealed by the rental agreement indicate the rental in North Carolina on the evening, afternoon before the stop was made at one o'clock in the morning. I have my doubts that the car was driven from Morganton to Lawrenceville and back to Marion to visit a grandmother. Morganton and Marion is a much shorter trip than that.

So, it appears that he may have been less than truthful about the purpose of his trip. Also, for someone unemployed, to be carrying such a large amount of cash in their pocket also would obviously give [an] officer reasonable suspicions. The other factors as noted, I have given those the weight required, and in this case I am going to refuse to suppress.

The trial proceeded and Moore was convicted of both charges. He was sentenced to twenty-five years on his trafficking charge as well as five years on his possession charge, and the sentences were to run concurrently. This appeal followed.


STANDARD OF REVIEW

“In Fourth Amendment cases, the trial court's factual rulings are reviewed under the ‘clear error’ standard.” Provet, 391 S.C. at 498, 706 S.E.2d at 515 (citing State v. Brockman, 339 S.C. 57, 66, 528 S.E.2d 661, 666 (2000)). “Under the clear error standard, an appellate court will not reverse a trial court's findings of fact simply because it would have decided the case differently.” Id. (internal quotations omitted) (citing [404 S.C. 641]State v. Pichardo, 367 S.C. 84, 96, 623 S.E.2d 840, 846 (Ct.App.2005)). “Therefore, we will affirm if there is any evidence to support the trial court's rulings.” Id. (citing State v. Khingratsaiphon, 352 S.C. 62, 70, 572 S.E.2d 456, 460 (2002)).

LAW/ANALYSIS

“The Fourth Amendment guarantees ‘[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures....' ” Id. at 499, 706 S.E.2d at 515 (alteration in original) (quoting U.S. Const. amend. IV). “Generally, the decision to conduct a traffic stop is [a] reasonable [seizure] when the police have probable cause to believe a traffic violation has occurred.” Id. at 499, 706 S.E.2d at 515–16 (citing Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 810, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 135 L.Ed.2d 89 (1996)).

“Lengthening the detention for further...

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6 practice notes
  • Milledge v. State, Appellate Case No. 2014-002386
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 14, 2018
    ...frisk on Milledge. The PCR court cited to State v. Tindall , 388 S.C. 518, 698 S.E.2d 203 (2010), and 422 S.C. 378 State v. Moore , 404 S.C. 634, 746 S.E.2d 352 (Ct. App. 2013), rev'd , 415 S.C. 245, 781 S.E.2d 897 (2016), to support its conclusion. We find the PCR court's decision to grant......
  • State v. Cardwell, Appellate Case No. 2012–213334.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 2, 2015
    ...This court will not reverse a circuit court's findings of fact merely because we would have reached a different conclusion. State v. Moore,404 S.C. 634, 640, 746 S.E.2d 352, 355 (Ct.App.2013)(citation omitted).The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:The right of the ......
  • State v. Moore, Appellate Case No. 2013–002309.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 27, 2016
    ...did not have reasonable suspicion to continue to detain Moore once the initial purpose of the traffic stop was concluded. State v. Moore, 404 S.C. 634, 746 S.E.2d 352 (Ct.App.2013). We granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari. In light of the standard of review, we reverse the ......
  • State v. Pope, No. 5261.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • August 20, 2014
    ...seizure cases, our review is limited to determining whether there is any evidence to support the trial court's finding. State v. Moore, 404 S.C. 634, 640–41, 746 S.E.2d 352, 355 (Ct.App.2013). This court will not reverse a trial court's findings of fact merely because we would have reached ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Milledge v. State, Appellate Case No. 2014-002386
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 14, 2018
    ...frisk on Milledge. The PCR court cited to State v. Tindall , 388 S.C. 518, 698 S.E.2d 203 (2010), and 422 S.C. 378 State v. Moore , 404 S.C. 634, 746 S.E.2d 352 (Ct. App. 2013), rev'd , 415 S.C. 245, 781 S.E.2d 897 (2016), to support its conclusion. We find the PCR court's decision to grant......
  • State v. Cardwell, Appellate Case No. 2012–213334.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 2, 2015
    ...This court will not reverse a circuit court's findings of fact merely because we would have reached a different conclusion. State v. Moore,404 S.C. 634, 640, 746 S.E.2d 352, 355 (Ct.App.2013)(citation omitted).The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:The right of the ......
  • State v. Moore, Appellate Case No. 2013–002309.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 27, 2016
    ...did not have reasonable suspicion to continue to detain Moore once the initial purpose of the traffic stop was concluded. State v. Moore, 404 S.C. 634, 746 S.E.2d 352 (Ct.App.2013). We granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari. In light of the standard of review, we reverse the ......
  • State v. Pope, No. 5261.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • August 20, 2014
    ...seizure cases, our review is limited to determining whether there is any evidence to support the trial court's finding. State v. Moore, 404 S.C. 634, 640–41, 746 S.E.2d 352, 355 (Ct.App.2013). This court will not reverse a trial court's findings of fact merely because we would have reached ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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