State v. Norfolk, No. SC 92252.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtZEL M. FISCHER
Citation366 S.W.3d 528
Docket NumberNo. SC 92252.
Decision Date12 June 2012
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Elton J. NORFOLK, Appellant.

366 S.W.3d 528

STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
v.
Elton J. NORFOLK, Appellant.

No. SC 92252.

Supreme Court of Missouri,
En Banc.

June 12, 2012.


[366 S.W.3d 529]


Timothy J. Forneris, Public Defender's Office, St. Louis, for Norfolk.

John M. Reeves, Attorney General's Office, Jefferson City, for State.


Talmage E. Newton IV, Pleban & Petruska Law LLC, St. Louis, Burton H. Shostak, Shostak Law LLC, Clayton, for The Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which submitted a brief as a friend of the Court.

ZEL M. FISCHER, Judge.

Elton Norfolk appeals from the circuit court's judgment finding him guilty after a bench trial of one count of unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, § 571.030,1 and one count of possession of marijuana, § 195.202. The circuit court sentenced Norfolk to concurrent terms of three

[366 S.W.3d 530]

years' in prison for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon and one year in jail for the possession of marijuana and suspended execution of his sentences. Norfolk was placed on probation for three years to be supervised by the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole on the concealed weapon charge, and was placed on unsupervised probation for one year on the possession of marijuana charge. Norfolk argues on appeal that the circuit court clearly erred in overruling his motion to suppress evidence and his objections to the admission of evidence seized because the police officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop him and check for a weapon.

Officer Reynolds was on routine patrol in a marked police car near the 3900 block of Lexington and Vandeventer in the city of St. Louis. She was patrolling that particular area because there had been several armed robberies there in the recent past. While traveling southbound on Vandeventer, Officer Reynolds observed a male, later identified as Norfolk, standing alone on the corner. Officer Reynolds made eye contact with Norfolk, after which he adjusted his pants in a manner that led her to believe he was concealing a weapon. After observing this action, which she described as reaching around to his back with a single hand, Officer Reynolds turned her patrol car around and parked in front of a convenience store.

As Officer Reynolds exited the vehicle, Norfolk walked into the store. She followed Norfolk into the store, approached him, and asked, “Will you come outside and speak with me?” to which Norfolk replied, “F--- you. I don't need to speak to you.” Officer Reynolds told Norfolk, “If you're not doing anything wrong, then you'll come outside and you'll speak to me.” They both exited the store. Officer Reynolds told Norfolk to turn around and place his hands on the wall of the store so that she could check him for weapons; Norfolk complied. When his shirt came up and the butt of a gun became visible, Officer Reynolds put her hand against the back of Norfolk's head and called for assistance. Norfolk was arrested. While conducting a search incident to arrest, Officer Reynolds retrieved the gun she saw in Norfolk's waistband and the marijuana from his pocket.

Norfolk was charged with one count of unlawful use of a weapon,2 one count of possession of under 35 grams of marijuana, and third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer.3 Norfolk filed a motion to suppress all of the items seized, arguing the search was unlawful because it was conducted pursuant to an illegal stop. After an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court overruled Norfolk's motion to suppress.

Norfolk waived his right to a jury trial; therefore, the case proceeded to bench trial. Norfolk testified Officer Reynolds approached him while he was inside the convenience store, had a taser gun in her hand, and ordered him to go outside and stand up against the wall for a search. Norfolk admitted during cross-examination by the State that he possessed the gun and the marijuana that were seized. The circuit

[366 S.W.3d 531]

court found Norfolk guilty of unlawful use of a weapon in that he was carrying the gun in a concealed manner and of possession of marijuana. Norfolk argues the circuit court clearly erred in overruling his motion to suppress and overruling his objections to the admission of evidence seized during the search because Officer Reynolds lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct a Terry Stop and Frisk. Norfolk further claims any evidence obtained during the Terry Stop and Frisk was seized in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights and should be excluded from evidence pursuant to the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. Without that evidence, Norfolk claims there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions.

As a general rule, “all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is ... inadmissible in state court.” State v. Grayson, 336 S.W.3d 138, 146 (Mo. banc 2011) (Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 655, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081 (1961)). The exclusionary rule also requires excluding the “ ‘fruit of the poisonous tree,’ that is, ‘evidence discovered and later found to be derivative of a Fourth Amendment violation.’ ” Grayson, 336 S.W.3d at 147 (State v. Miller, 894 S.W.2d 649, 654 (Mo. banc 1995)).

The State argues Officer Reynolds had reasonable suspicion to believe criminal activity was afoot; therefore, the Terry Stop and Frisk for a weapons check was warranted, and the gun and marijuana were appropriately received as evidence.4

Standard of Review

In reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, there must be “substantial evidence” to support the ruling. State v. Rousan, 961 S.W.2d 831, 845 (Mo. banc 1998). “[T]he facts and reasonable inferences from such facts are considered favorably to the trial court's ruling and contrary evidence and inferences are disregarded.” State v. Galazin, 58 S.W.3d 500, 507 (Mo. banc 2001) (citing State v. Kinkead, 983 S.W.2d 518, 519 (Mo. banc 1998)).

In “reviewing the trial court's overruling of a motion to suppress, this Court considers the evidence presented at both the suppression hearing and at trial to determine whether sufficient evidence exists in the record to support the trial court's ruling.” State v. Pike, 162 S.W.3d 464, 472 (Mo. banc 2005). “Deference is given to the trial court's superior opportunity to determine the credibility of witnesses.” Rousan, 961 S.W.2d at 845. This Court gives deference to the trial court's factual findings but reviews questions of law de novo. Id.

State v. Gaw, 285 S.W.3d 318, 319–20 (Mo. banc 2009).

Facts

Officer Reynolds testified at the suppression hearing and the trial regarding the basis of her reason to suspect Norfolk was carrying a concealed weapon unlawfully. The testimony on which the circuit court may have relied to determine the officer's conduct was permissible included the following:

[366 S.W.3d 532]

Motion to Suppress Hearing

Direct Examination

Q Did you have occasion to be in the 3900 block of Lexington around 9:00 p.m. that night?

A I was.

...

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13 practice notes
  • State v. Ford, No. ED 99980.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 28, 2014
    ...reasonable suspicion exists is a question of law that this Court reviews de novo.” Lovelady, 432 S.W.3d at 190 (citing State v. Norfolk, 366 S.W.3d 528, 534 (Mo. banc In his sole point, Ford contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress and allowing the admission int......
  • State v. Williams, No. WD 73550.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 30, 2012
    ...facts are considered favorably to the trial court's ruling and contrary evidence and inferences are disregarded.’ ” State v. Norfolk, 366 S.W.3d 528, 531 (Mo. banc 2012) (citations omitted).Analysis Williams challenges the legality of both the vehicle stop, and the subsequent search. Becaus......
  • State v. West, WD 80879
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 17, 2018
    ...State v. Lammers , 479 S.W.3d 624, 630 (Mo. banc 2016) ). As such, we disregard all contrary evidence and inferences. State v. Norfolk , 366 S.W.3d 528, 531 (Mo. banc 2012). While we give deference to the trial court's findings of fact, we 548 S.W.3d 413review all questions of law de novo. ......
  • State v. McCarty, WD79095
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 4, 2016
    ...reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, there must be 'substantial evidence' to support the ruling.” State v. Norfolk , 366 S.W.3d 528, 531 (Mo.banc 2012). To determine whether substantial evidence exists to support the trial court's ruling, this Court examines evidence pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • State v. Ford, No. ED 99980.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 28, 2014
    ...reasonable suspicion exists is a question of law that this Court reviews de novo.” Lovelady, 432 S.W.3d at 190 (citing State v. Norfolk, 366 S.W.3d 528, 534 (Mo. banc In his sole point, Ford contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress and allowing the admission int......
  • State v. Williams, No. WD 73550.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 30, 2012
    ...facts are considered favorably to the trial court's ruling and contrary evidence and inferences are disregarded.’ ” State v. Norfolk, 366 S.W.3d 528, 531 (Mo. banc 2012) (citations omitted).Analysis Williams challenges the legality of both the vehicle stop, and the subsequent search. Becaus......
  • State v. West, WD 80879
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 17, 2018
    ...State v. Lammers , 479 S.W.3d 624, 630 (Mo. banc 2016) ). As such, we disregard all contrary evidence and inferences. State v. Norfolk , 366 S.W.3d 528, 531 (Mo. banc 2012). While we give deference to the trial court's findings of fact, we 548 S.W.3d 413review all questions of law de novo. ......
  • State v. McCarty, WD79095
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 4, 2016
    ...reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, there must be 'substantial evidence' to support the ruling.” State v. Norfolk , 366 S.W.3d 528, 531 (Mo.banc 2012). To determine whether substantial evidence exists to support the trial court's ruling, this Court examines evidence pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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