State v. Teagle

Decision Date01 November 2007
Docket NumberNo. 1 CA-CR 06-0590.,1 CA-CR 06-0590.
Citation217 Ariz. 17,170 P.3d 266
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. Theron Jackson TEAGLE, Appellant.
CourtArizona Court of Appeals

Terry Goddard, Attorney General by Randall M. Howe, Chief Counsel Criminal Appeals Section and Jessica L. Quickle, Assistant Attorney General, Phoenix, Attorneys for Appellee.

Emily Danies, Tucson, Attorney for Appellant.

OPINION

HALL, Judge.

¶ 1 Theron Jackson Teagle was convicted of one count of transportation of marijuana for sale, a class two felony, in violation of Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section 13-3405(A)(4) (Supp.2006) and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a class six felony, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-3415(A) (2001). He appeals from his convictions, arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence and his motion for judgment of acquittal. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 2 In reviewing a trial court's decision on a motion to suppress, we view the facts in the light most favorable to upholding the trial court's ruling and consider only the evidence presented at the suppression hearing. State v. Wyman, 197 Ariz. 10, 12, ¶ 2, 3 P.3d 392, 394 (App.2000).1

¶ 3 At approximately 3:00 p.m. on October 18, 2003, Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Brian Greene stopped the Mercury Grand Marquis defendant was driving on U.S. Route 93 at milepost 189, approximately 11 miles north of Wickenburg, for speeding. When Officer Greene approached the passenger side of the vehicle, he noticed two cellular phones mounted on the dashboard near the steering wheel, an open container of liquor, fast-food wrappers, a box of cookies, and a map on the passenger seat, and luggage and clothing hung up in the backseat. Officer Greene then informed defendant that he had been speeding, asked him for his driver license and registration, and requested that he exit the vehicle.

¶ 4 Defendant produced a temporary, paper driver license from Maryland and a Florida photo-identification card, but did not provide registration documentation. When asked about the Smirnoff alcoholic beverage in his vehicle, defendant claimed that he believed it was "a lemon-lime drink." Officer Greene then conducted field sobriety tests on defendant but determined he was not impaired.

¶ 5 While issuing defendant a warning, Officer Greene asked him several questions regarding his visit to Arizona. In answering the officer's questions, defendant explained that he was on vacation from Florida and driving "to Las Vegas to play pool and maybe gamble." Officer Greene asked defendant whether he was participating in a pool tournament and defendant responded that he was not a professional player, but planned to "find a bar" that had a pool table. Defendant also informed the officer that he had driven from Florida to Arizona in "two to three days" and that he did not have a hotel reservation in Las Vegas. When asked why he had multiple cellular phones, defendant responded that he simply "wanted a new cell phone" and that his new phone had pre-paid minutes while his older cellular phone was under a contract plan.

¶ 6 After issuing defendant a warning for speeding, Officer Greene returned defendant's documentation and informed him that he was free to leave. However, as defendant turned to return to his vehicle, Officer Greene inquired whether he could ask him a few more questions and defendant responded in the affirmative. Officer Greene then asked defendant if there was any contraband in the vehicle and defendant stated "oh, no." As a follow-up question, the officer asked defendant "if there was a chance" someone else had placed contraband in the vehicle and defendant answered "none that [I am] aware of." Officer Greene then asked defendant for consent to search the vehicle and defendant stated "yes and no." When asked to explain his response, defendant informed the officer that he "had nothing to hide" but would not consent to the search. Defendant also informed Officer Greene that he did not "want to wait."

¶ 7 At that point, Officer Greene returned to his patrol vehicle to contact the dispatcher and inquire whether a canine unit was available. However, when Officer Greene spoke with the dispatcher, she informed him that another officer needed assistance with an "extreme safety issue" regarding a stolen vehicle a few miles away. Accordingly, Officer Greene told defendant that he was free to leave and then proceeded to drive north toward the location of the officer in need of assistance. Before Officer Greene reached the other officer, however, he was notified that his assistance was no longer necessary and he turned his vehicle around and began traveling south.

¶ 8 As Officer Greene drove southbound on Route 93, he observed defendant's vehicle traveling at a speed of seventy-four miles per hour, again exceeding the speed limit. At 3:36 p.m., the officer initiated another stop of defendant's car at milepost 186. By the time Officer Greene exited his vehicle, defendant was approaching the patrol car. The officer then informed defendant that he was again observed speeding and defendant explained that he had been preoccupied while attempting to set his cruise control and was therefore unaware that he had been speeding. Officer Greene issued defendant another warning and told him he was free to leave. However, Officer Greene then asked defendant whether he would consent to a search of the car and defendant responded that he would not because he had "nothing to hide."

¶ 9 Once again, Officer Greene contacted the dispatcher to inquire whether a canine unit was available. The dispatcher made some inquiries and, after a wait of what the officer described as "five to ten minutes," the dispatcher informed the officer that no canine unit from any of the neighboring communities was available and that the closest available canine unit was approximately sixty miles away in Prescott Valley and it would therefore take approximately an hour to an hour and one-half for the canine unit to reach Officer Greene's location.

¶ 10 Officer Greene informed defendant that he had requested a canine unit and that it would be up to ninety minutes before it arrived. Defendant responded that the delay was "fine" because he was "retired" and could wait.

¶ 11 At 5:27 p.m., one hour and six minutes after he was called to the scene, Patrol Deputy John Keough of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office arrived with his canine. Deputy Keough led the canine around defendant's vehicle for an exterior sniff. After approximately ten seconds, the dog alerted at the back of the vehicle. Based on the alert, Deputy Keough informed Officer Greene that he had probable cause to search the car. Officer Greene proceeded to open the vehicle's trunk and discovered 337 pounds of marijuana.

¶ 12 Defendant was placed under arrest and indicted for one count of knowingly transporting marijuana for sale and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant pled not guilty to the charges.

¶ 13 Before trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized from the vehicle on the basis that it was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 2, Section 8, of the Arizona Constitution.2 Specifically, defendant argued that his prolonged detention beyond the scope of the traffic stop was unlawful because it was not consensual and the officer lacked reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

¶ 14 Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied defendant's motion to suppress, stating in relevant part:

The questions which may have been outside the scope of reasonable inquiry relative to the purpose of the stop were within the scope of reasonable inquiry given the items observed or noticed by the officer. Specifically the officer observed multiple cell phones mounted on the dash board, luggage on the rear seat, Defendant's lack of vehicle registration documents, a temporary license issued to Defendant by one state (Maryland), and a state identification card issued to Defendant by another state (Florida).

Based upon this Court's review of the factors noted above, and the authorities cited, the Court finds there were sufficient particularized, objective factors, noticed and observed by the citing officer to arouse his reasonable suspicion justifying the detention of Defendant for a period of time to permit an exterior canine sniff. The closest, available canine unit was Deputy [K]enough, who was contacted by dispatch in central Yavapai County at 4:21 p.m. and arrived on scene in western Yavapai County at 5:27 p.m. The time of travel and the consequent period of detention was one hour and six minutes. The detention of the Defendant was not unreasonably prolonged.

¶ 15 The matter proceeded to trial. At the close of the State's presentation of evidence, defendant moved for a directed verdict of acquittal, which the trial court denied. After Defendant presented his witnesses, he renewed his motion for judgment of acquittal, which the trial court also denied.

¶ 16 The jury found defendant guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced defendant to an aggravated term of seven and one-half years imprisonment for transportation of marijuana for sale and to a concurrent six-month term of probation for possession of drug paraphernalia.

¶ 17 Defendant timely appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to Article 6, Section 9, of the Arizona Constitution and A.R.S. §§ 12-120.21(A)(1) (2003), 13-4031 and -4033 (2001).

DISCUSSION
I. Denial of Defendant's Motion to Suppress

¶ 18 Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress. Specifically, defendant contends that the police officer was not permitted to investigate matters beyond the scope of his initial traffic offense, speeding, and that he was illegally detained.

¶ 19 In reviewing a trial court's decision...

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