State v. Rodriquez, No. 2552

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtCURETON
Citation476 S.E.2d 161,323 S.C. 484
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Kenneth RODRIQUEZ, a/k/a Michael Frasier, Appellant. . Heard
Decision Date02 April 1996
Docket NumberNo. 2552

Page 161

476 S.E.2d 161
323 S.C. 484
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Kenneth RODRIQUEZ, a/k/a Michael Frasier, Appellant.
No. 2552.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard April 2, 1996.
Filed Aug. 12, 1996.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 16, 1996.
Certiorari Granted July 23, 1997.

Page 162

[323 S.C. 486] Robert L. Gailliard, Charleston, for appellant.

Attorney General Charles Molony Condon, Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, and Assistant Attorneys General Rakale B. Smith and Caroline Callison Tiffin, Columbia; and Solicitor David P. Schwacke, North Charleston, for respondent.

CURETON, Judge.

Kenneth Rodriquez, also known as Michael Frasier (Rodriquez), was convicted of trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute within proximity of a school, possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute within proximity of a school, simple possession of marijuana, and unlawful carrying of a pistol. He appeals from the trial court's denial of his pretrial motion to suppress introduction of the contraband into evidence on the ground it was acquired through an unconstitutional search and seizure. We reverse.

I. FACTS

Incident to his participation in a drug interdiction program, Detective Melvin Cumbee, of the North Charleston Police Department narcotics unit, inspected the train manifest at the Charleston Amtrak station on March 23, 1993. Cumbee noticed the name "Kenneth Rodriquez" on the manifest and requested Rodriquez's itinerary. According to Cumbee, the name "Rodriquez" was significant to him because several months earlier the police had arrested a drug courier with a different first name but whose last name was Rodriquez. The courier stated his brother also transported drugs using the [323 S.C. 487] name Rodriquez. 1 Upon inspecting

Page 163

the itinerary, Cumbee noted Kenneth Rodriquez was returning to Charleston from New York on March 24, he had paid cash for the trip, and his turn-around time in New York City was short. Cumbee also phoned the call-back number listed on the manifest, but the person who answered stated he did not know Kenneth Rodriquez. In addition, Cumbee spoke with a confidential informant who gave him "a very vague" description of Rodriquez and told him he believed Rodriquez made frequent train trips to New York, usually paid cash, and the same individual usually brought him to the train station and picked him up upon his return. The confidential informant did not give Cumbee any information indicating Rodriquez went to New York to buy drugs or that he would be carrying drugs upon arriving back in Charleston. Cumbee relayed the information he gathered from the train manifest, itinerary and confidential informant to other members of the narcotics unit.

Detective James Denney, also of the North Charleston Police Department, testified he received information from Cumbee concerning Kenneth Rodriquez and, as a result, went to the Amtrak station on March 24 with Detective James Roberts to meet the train upon which Rodriquez was to return. Both detectives were working undercover and arrived at the station approximately forty-five minutes before Rodriquez's train was scheduled to arrive. Denney then spoke with an attendant at the station and learned the train was running approximately one hour behind schedule. According to Denney, he and Roberts waited at the station for the train to arrive. 2 While waiting for the train, Denney spoke with the confidential information and received a "full description" of the subject.

When the train arrived, Denney saw Rodriquez disembark and meet another man. Rodriquez was carrying four bags, two of which he handed to the other individual. Denney and Roberts followed the men out of the front doors of the train station and approached them in the parking lot. Denney testified[323 S.C. 488] he never blocked the subjects' path but approached them from the side and identified himself as a police officer. He advised Rodriquez he had received information Rodriquez might be carrying contraband and asked if he could pat him down for weapons. 3 Rodriquez refused the request. At the same time, Roberts was talking to the other individual. According to Denney, he asked Rodriquez a second time if he could pat him down and was refused. He also asked Rodriquez if he could look through his luggage and, again, Rodriquez refused. Rodriquez asked Denney why he was being detained and, according to Denney, was told he was not being detained and was free to leave at any time. Denney stated Rodriquez appeared very nervous, particularly during the initial stages of the encounter. After about five minutes, Denney and Roberts switched places so that Roberts could speak with Rodriquez and Denney could speak with the other individual. Denney stated Rodriquez voluntarily remained with him and Roberts for approximately thirty minutes although he repeatedly asked why he was being held and was repeatedly advised he was not being detained and was free to go. However, on cross examination, Denney admitted that after Rodriquez refused to consent to a search, he told Rodriquez that it would only take a short time for the detectives to search his bags and "if nothing was found, [he] would be clear to go." 4

Roberts testified he and Denney identified Rodriquez from the description given them

Page 164

by the confidential informant and followed Rodriquez and the man who met him as they left the train station. According to Roberts, he and Denney approached the subjects from behind and identified themselves as police officers. Roberts stated he heard Rodriquez refuse Denney's request for a pat down and to search his bags. Roberts also stated Rodriquez asked Denney three times why he was being detained and each time Denney informed him he [323 S.C. 489] was free to leave. Roberts testified he talked to Rodriquez for approximately thirty minutes after he and Denney traded places. According to Roberts, Rodriquez asked him five times why they were holding him. He stated he told Rodriquez he was not being detained and he "could leave at any time, but then I would again state, 'No, but I would like for you to cooperate with me before you leave--if you would, let me check your person and your baggage. You know, you are talking five minutes and you would be gone.' "

At some point while Roberts was talking to Rodriquez, Denney contacted Cumbee and a canine drug detection unit. Shortly thereafter, Detective Kenneth Hagge, along with several other officers, arrived and told Rodriquez he was going to conduct a pat down search. Rodriquez lifted his hands in a gesture to indicate "why" and Hagge saw a pistol in his waistband. Hagge then arrested Rodriquez and seized the pistol. Upon searching Rodriquez's bags, police officers found quantities of various drugs and drug paraphernalia.

At a pretrial suppression hearing, Rodriquez argued the contraband was the fruit of an unconstitutional search and...

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12 practice notes
  • State v. Woodruff, No. 3315.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 12 Marzo 2001
    ...deliberate effort to avoid the necessity of securing a warrant. United States v. Holland, 510 F.2d 453 (9th Cir.1975); State v. Rodriguez, 323 S.C. 484, 476 S.E.2d 161 (Ct.App.1996). Given the intrusive nature of a seizure and considering the fact that on occasion a person may be wrongfully......
  • State v. Burton, No. 3466.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 25 Marzo 2002
    ...questions to citizen on the street does not bring the Fourth Amendment into play); State v. Rodriquez, 323 349 S.C. 437 S.C. 484, 491, 476 S.E.2d 161, 165 (Ct.App.1996) ("In determining whether an encounter between a law enforcement official and a citizen constitutes a seizure, and thereby ......
  • State v. Blassingame, No. 3085.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 6 Diciembre 1999
    ...judges and local law enforcement officers." Ornelas, 517 U.S. at 699, 116 S.Ct. at 1663, 134 L.Ed.2d at 920. In State v. Rodriquez, 323 S.C. 484, 476 S.E.2d 161 (Ct.App. 1996),1 this Court, citing Ornelas, noted appellate courts 338 S.C. 248 should conduct de novo reviews of trial court det......
  • State v. Corley, No. 4544.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 14 Mayo 2009
    ...of a Terry detention must be strictly tied to and justified by the circumstances that rendered its initiation proper. State v. Rodriquez, 323 S.C. 484, 493, 476 S.E.2d 161, 166 (Ct.App.1996). "Typically, this means that the officer may ask the detainee a moderate number of questions to dete......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • State v. Woodruff, No. 3315.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 12 Marzo 2001
    ...deliberate effort to avoid the necessity of securing a warrant. United States v. Holland, 510 F.2d 453 (9th Cir.1975); State v. Rodriguez, 323 S.C. 484, 476 S.E.2d 161 (Ct.App.1996). Given the intrusive nature of a seizure and considering the fact that on occasion a person may be wrongfully......
  • State v. Burton, No. 3466.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 25 Marzo 2002
    ...questions to citizen on the street does not bring the Fourth Amendment into play); State v. Rodriquez, 323 349 S.C. 437 S.C. 484, 491, 476 S.E.2d 161, 165 (Ct.App.1996) ("In determining whether an encounter between a law enforcement official and a citizen constitutes a seizure, and thereby ......
  • State v. Blassingame, No. 3085.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 6 Diciembre 1999
    ...judges and local law enforcement officers." Ornelas, 517 U.S. at 699, 116 S.Ct. at 1663, 134 L.Ed.2d at 920. In State v. Rodriquez, 323 S.C. 484, 476 S.E.2d 161 (Ct.App. 1996),1 this Court, citing Ornelas, noted appellate courts 338 S.C. 248 should conduct de novo reviews of trial court det......
  • State v. Corley, No. 4544.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 14 Mayo 2009
    ...of a Terry detention must be strictly tied to and justified by the circumstances that rendered its initiation proper. State v. Rodriquez, 323 S.C. 484, 493, 476 S.E.2d 161, 166 (Ct.App.1996). "Typically, this means that the officer may ask the detainee a moderate number of questions to dete......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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