State v. Sund, SC 87747.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Citation215 S.W.3d 719
Docket NumberNo. SC 87747.,SC 87747.
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Kerstin SUND, Appellant.
Decision Date09 January 2007
215 S.W.3d 719
STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
Kerstin SUND, Appellant.
No. SC 87747.
Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.
January 9, 2007.

[215 S.W.3d 720]

N. Scott Rosenblum, Michael A. Gross, Joseph F. Yeckel, St. Louis, for Appellant.

Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Atty. Gen., Shaun J. Mackelprang, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for Respondent.


Ms. Kerstin Sund was convicted by a jury of drug trafficking in the second degree in violation of section 195.223.7,

215 S.W.3d 721

RSMo Supp.2005,1 based upon the discovery of marijuana in the trunk of a rental car she was driving through Missouri. Ms. Sund claims the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress this evidence and in permitting it to be admitted at trial because it was the fruit of her unlawful seizure.

This Court agrees that the police officer's demand that Ms. Sund and her companion let him search the trunk of their car or he would detain them while they waited for the police dogs, even though the traffic stop was concluded and despite the admitted lack of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, constituted an unlawful detention. Accordingly, the marijuana found in the trunk should not have been admitted. The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.


At about 10:45 p.m. on the evening of February 27, 2003, Ms. Sund and Kahlila Wolfe were driving on Interstate 44 on their way east when they were stopped by Officer William J. Knittel, Jr., as they passed through Eureka, Missouri. The officer later explained that he had observed their vehicle drift onto the dashed white line dividing one lane of traffic from another and wanted to check that the driver was not intoxicated or falling asleep. Ms. Sund was driving, and Ms. Wolfe was in the passenger seat.

After approaching the vehicle, the officer asked Ms. Sund for her driver's license and the vehicle registration. She gave him her license and a car rental agreement. Before returning to his patrol car to run a computer check on her license, Officer Knittel asked Ms. Sund a series of questions to determine whether she was intoxicated or sleepy and determined that she was neither. He returned to his vehicle and ran a check on Ms. Sund's license, which showed no outstanding violations. He then noticed the name on the rental agreement was not Sund, but Wolfe. At his request, Ms. Sund's passenger showed him her license and confirmed that the rental agreement was in her name.

Officer Knittel then asked Ms. Sund to join him in his patrol car. Once in the patrol car, he informed Ms. Sund that he was going to issue her a warning ticket. While he filled out the warning ticket and the requisite racial-profiling form, and while waiting for the results on a computer check of Ms. Wolfe's license and the rental car's license plate registration (which, when returned, showed no problem with the license or registration), the officer asked Ms. Sund questions about herself and the details of the two women's trip. She told him that she is a citizen of Sweden but was living in the United States on a visa.2 She also told him that she and Ms. Wolfe were traveling east to assist a friend to prepare for a wedding.

Once the results of the computer checks returned, Officer Knittel left the patrol car to return Ms. Wolfe's license. Ms. Sund remained in the patrol car. Before returning the license, the officer also questioned Ms. Wolfe about the details of the women's trip. She responded consistently with Ms. Sund's answers. He then motioned for Ms. Sund to exit the patrol car. At that point, fifteen to twenty minutes had passed since he had originally stopped Ms. Sund and Ms. Wolfe. He completed the traffic stop by telling Ms. Sund to "be

215 S.W.3d 722

careful," returning her license, and handing her the warning ticket, which cited her for a traffic infraction3 of improper lane usage. See sec. 304.015.5.

As Ms. Sund was walking back to the vehicle in which Ms. Wolfe was still sitting, Officer Knittel asked Ms. Sund if he could search the vehicle and all its contents. Ms. Sund replied, "sure." When the officer asked Ms. Wolfe to pop open the trunk, however, she asked him what was going on. He told her that he believed Ms. Sund had lied to him (a statement that he later testified was based on "pure speculation") and that "interstate highways are used to conceal drugs, weapons, people and other illegal things." Officer Knittel then specifically asked Ms. Wolfe if she would give him consent to search and again asked her to pop open the trunk. Neither Ms. Wolfe nor Ms. Sund was willing to open the trunk for the officer.

The officer then gave the women a choice to consent to his searching the trunk or to wait for about forty minutes until a canine unit arrived to conduct the search in his stead. Only then did Ms. Wolfe consent and open the trunk. Upon searching the trunk, the officer found a partially opened duffel bag containing approximately seventy pounds of marijuana. He arrested both women, who were subsequently indicted by a grand jury for drug trafficking in the second degree, a class B felony.

Ms. Sund filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized during the search of the vehicle, which was overruled. She objected, without success, to admission of that evidence at trial.4 The jury found Ms. Sund guilty of drug trafficking in the second degree. After denying Ms. Sund's motion for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict or new trial, the trial court sentenced Ms. Sund to five years imprisonment, but suspended execution of the sentence and ordered that she spend 90 days in jail, after which she would begin a five-year probationary period.

Ms. Sund contends on appeal that the trial court erred in admitting the marijuana because the officer unlawfully detained her without reasonable suspicion after completing the traffic stop by telling Ms. Wolfe and her that they had to either consent to his searching the trunk or wait for a canine unit to arrive to conduct the

215 S.W.3d 723

search, thereby negating the consensual nature of their resulting agreement to allow the search.5


A trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress will be reversed on appeal only if it is clearly erroneous. State v. Granado, 148 S.W.3d 309, 311 (Mo. banc 2004). This Court defers to the trial court's factual findings and credibility determinations, State v. Rousan, 961 S.W.2d 831, 845 (Mo. banc 1998), and considers all evidence and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling. State v. Clemons, 946 S.W.2d 206, 218 (Mo. banc 1997). Whether conduct violates the Fourth Amendment is an issue of law that this Court reviews de novo. Rousan, 961 S.W.2d at 845.


The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that individuals will not be subject to unreasonable searches or seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. A "seizure" occurs when the totality of the circumstances surrounding the incident...

To continue reading

Request your trial
109 cases
  • State v. Grayson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 29, 2011
    ...surrounding the incident indicates that ‘a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave.’ ” State v. Sund, 215 S.W.3d 719, 723 (Mo. banc 2007), quoting, State v. Werner, 9 S.W.3d 590, 600 (Mo. banc 2000). Here, Officer Lambert detained Mr. Grayson by compelling him to......
  • State v. Brown, WD 73142.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • November 20, 2012
    ...The trial court rejected the State's argument, finding that Toolen had been “dismissed” by the Missouri Supreme Court in State v. Sund, 215 S.W.3d 719, 722 n. 4 (Mo. banc 2007). In Sund, the State argued that the driver of a rental car, who was operating the vehicle with the authorized rent......
  • State v. Hill, ED 89196.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 4, 2008
    ...test in two cases considering seizures under the Fourth Amendment, but has not specifically referred to the six factors. State v. Sund, 215 S.W.3d 719 (Mo. banc 2007); State v. Barks, 128 S.W.3d 513 (Mo. banc 4. Defendant does not identify or describe these statements in his brief, or make ......
  • State v. Johnson, ED 100856.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 8, 2014
    ...on a motion to suppress only if it is “clearly erroneous.” State v. Edwards, 280 S.W.3d 184, 188 (Mo.App.E.D.2009) (citing State v. Sund, 215 S.W.3d 719, 723 (Mo. banc 2007)). A ruling is clearly erroneous when we are “[left] with a definite and firm impression that a mistake has been made.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT