State v. Moore, Appellate Case No. 2013–002309.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtJustice KITTREDGE.
Citation415 S.C. 245,781 S.E.2d 897
Parties The STATE, Petitioner, v. Ashley Eugene MOORE, Respondent.
Decision Date27 January 2016
Docket NumberAppellate Case No. 2013–002309.,No. 27602.

415 S.C. 245
781 S.E.2d 897

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

Appellate Case No. 2013–002309.
No. 27602.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard May 19, 2015.
Decided Jan. 27, 2016.


781 S.E.2d 898

Attorney General, Alan Wilson, Assistant Attorney General, Mary Williams Leddon, and Assistant Attorney General, Joshua L. Thomas, all of Columbia, for petitioner.

Appellate Defender, Laura R. Baer and Assistant Public Defender, Dayne C. Phillips, both of Columbia, and Carmen V. Ghanjehsani, of Richardson Plowden & Robinson, P.A., of Columbia, for respondent.

Justice KITTREDGE.

415 S.C. 248

Respondent Ashley Eugene Moore was convicted of trafficking in cocaine base and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. On appeal, Moore argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the admission of a large quantity of crack cocaine and a firearm, both of which were seized during a traffic stop. A majority of the court of appeals' panel reversed, finding that officers 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 court of appeals and reinstate Moore's convictions and sentence.

I.

On June 30, 2010, Deputy Dale Owens of the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office was patrolling the I–85 corridor along with his

781 S.E.2d 899

supervisor, Corporal Ken Hancock. At around 1:10 a.m., Deputy Owens observed Moore driving northbound on the interstate and visually estimated that he was travelling in excess of the posted speed limit. Deputy Owens pulled onto the interstate, "paced"1 Moore's vehicle, and determined that Moore was driving ten miles over the speed limit. Deputy Owens initiated a traffic stop. Moore turned on his left turn signal and appeared to move to the left; however, he then turned on his right turn signal and slowly pulled over.

Deputy Owens approached the passenger side of Moore's vehicle, observed Moore talking on the phone, and requested that Moore end the call. Deputy Owens immediately smelled an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle, and Moore readily admitted to having a couple of drinks. Deputy Owens then

415 S.C. 249

asked Moore for his driver's license and registration. Moore produced his driver's license and a rental agreement for the vehicle. The vehicle had been rented by a third party in Morganton, North Carolina, the previous afternoon.

At the direction of Deputy Owens, Moore exited the vehicle; however, Moore left the door of the vehicle open and had to return to shut it. Moore then lit a cigarette and consented to a pat down, which yielded a "wad" of approximately $600 in cash in Moore's pocket. Moore stated he was unemployed. Moore further informed the officers he was driving from Lawrenceville, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta, on his way to visit his grandmother in Marion, North Carolina.

Deputy Owens then administered a series of three field sobriety tests. Moore passed two of the three tests. Based on these results, Deputy Owens did not arrest Moore for driving while impaired and opted to give him a warning instead. However, Deputy Owens asked Moore for consent to search the vehicle. Moore declined to consent to a search.

At that point, approximately fifteen to sixteen minutes into the traffic stop, Corporal Hancock requested that Deputy Jason Carraway, a drug-detection canine handler, respond to the scene. When Moore learned that a canine unit was en route, he smoked another cigarette. Deputy Carraway arrived approximately sixteen minutes later. The canine alerted to the presence of drugs in Moore's rental vehicle.

Deputy Owens and Corporal Hancock then began a search of the vehicle, which resulted in the seizure of two containers filled with a large quantity of crack cocaine, a loaded semiautomatic handgun, and $4,000.

Moore was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine base in excess of 400 grams and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Prior to trial, Moore moved to suppress the evidence seized from his vehicle, arguing the officers did not have reasonable suspicion to continue to detain him after the decision was made not to arrest him for driving while impaired.

During the suppression hearing, Deputy Owens testified in detail about his observations during the traffic stop and identified a number of indicators of reasonable suspicion, summarized

415 S.C. 250

as follows: (1) Moore initially turned on his left turn signal but then pulled his vehicle over to the right; (2) the time Moore took to pull over was longer than average, indicating the possibility of flight; (3) Deputy Owens noticed an odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle, which led him to believe that Moore had been drinking in order to calm his nerves; (4) Moore smoked several cigarettes, which was also an indicator that he might be trying to calm his nerves; (5) Moore continued to talk on the phone during the traffic stop, which was an indicator of criminal activity as phones provide a means of communication between drug traffickers; (6) Moore's hands were shaking when he handed Deputy Owens his driver's license and rental agreement; (7) Moore's pulse appeared to be rapid; (8) Moore's breathing was heavy; (9) Moore tried to pick up his cell phone when he was asked to exit his vehicle, also indicating the possibility of flight; (10) Moore was carrying a large sum of money in his pocket despite being unemployed; (11) Moore was driving a rental car,

781 S.E.2d 900

which was rented by a third party; and (12) Moore was leaving a suburb of Atlanta, which is a known drug trafficking hub.

The trial court denied Moore's motion to suppress, stating:

I am required to consider the totality of the circumstances, and give due weight to the common sense judgments reached by officers in light of experience and training.

In particular, the problem I have with 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. That's a long way to go around to visit your grandmother. Morganton [to] 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 a[n] 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.
415 S.C. 251

Moore proceeded to trial and was convicted of both offenses. Moore had a significant criminal record, including convictions for the possession and sale of drugs. The trial court sentenced Moore to an aggregate term of twenty-five years.

Moore appealed, contending the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Specifically, Moore "argue[d] 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." Moore, 404 S.C. at 637, 746 S.E.2d at 353. In a split decision, a majority of the court of appeals' panel reversed the trial court, holding that the "facts did not provide Officer Owen[s] with a reasonable suspicion of a serious crime." Id. at 644, 746 S.E.2d at 357. Chief Judge Few dissented, finding "evidence in the record to support the trial court's factual findings." Id. at 645, 746 S.E.2d at 357 (citation omitted). This Court granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari.

II.

" ‘On appeals from a motion to suppress based on Fourth...

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25 practice notes
  • State v. Moore, Appellate Case No. 2017-002479
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 19 Febrero 2020
    ...courts may not reverse the trial court's findings of fact merely because they would have decided the case differently. State v. Moore , 415 S.C. 245, 251, 781 S.E.2d 897, 900 (2016) (citation omitted). Rather, in reviewing Fourth Amendment cases, appellate courts must affirm the trial court......
  • State v. Spears, Appellate Case No. 2017-001933
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 12 Febrero 2020
    ...trial court's finding. First, Agent Tracy was a veteran law enforcement officer with a certification in interdiction. See State v. Moore , 415 S.C. 245, 255, 781 S.E.2d 897, 902 (2016) (citing a law enforcement officer's "extensive experience" in drug interdiction in support of common sense......
  • Milledge v. State, Appellate Case No. 2014-002386
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 14 Marzo 2018
    ...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 a new trial is an error of law because Milledge......
  • Jackson v. United States, No. 14–CF–534
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 13 Abril 2017
    ...Wade v. State , 422 S.W.3d 661, 670–71 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see State v. Moore , 415 S.C. 245, 781 S.E.2d 897, 902 (2016) (criticizing "law enforcement's reliance on the seemingly omnipresent factor of nervousness"), cert. denied , ––– U.S.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • State v. Moore, Appellate Case No. 2017-002479
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 19 Febrero 2020
    ...courts may not reverse the trial court's findings of fact merely because they would have decided the case differently. State v. Moore , 415 S.C. 245, 251, 781 S.E.2d 897, 900 (2016) (citation omitted). Rather, in reviewing Fourth Amendment cases, appellate courts must affirm the trial court......
  • State v. Spears, Appellate Case No. 2017-001933
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 12 Febrero 2020
    ...trial court's finding. First, Agent Tracy was a veteran law enforcement officer with a certification in interdiction. See State v. Moore , 415 S.C. 245, 255, 781 S.E.2d 897, 902 (2016) (citing a law enforcement officer's "extensive experience" in drug interdiction in support of common sense......
  • Milledge v. State, Appellate Case No. 2014-002386
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 14 Marzo 2018
    ...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 a new trial is an error of law because Milledge......
  • Jackson v. United States, No. 14–CF–534
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 13 Abril 2017
    ...Wade v. State , 422 S.W.3d 661, 670–71 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see State v. Moore , 415 S.C. 245, 781 S.E.2d 897, 902 (2016) (criticizing "law enforcement's reliance on the seemingly omnipresent factor of nervousness"), cert. denied , ––– U.S.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • POLICING SUSPICION: QUALIFIED IMMUNITY AND 'CLEARLY ESTABLISHED' STANDARDS OF PROOF.
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 112 Nbr. 1, January 2022
    • 1 Enero 2022
    ...[https://perma.cc/7ASA-K6AX]. That definition has not gained widespread acceptance. (183) State v. Moore, 781 S.E.2d 897, 902 (S.C. (184) Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366, 371 (2003). (185) United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 418 (1981). (186) Henes v. Morrissey, 533 N.W.2d 802, 804 (Wi......

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