State v. Tripp, No. 20081068.

CourtUtah Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtRonald J. Yengich, Elizabeth Hunt, Salt Lake City, for defendant
Citation2010 UT 9,227 P.3d 1251
PartiesSTATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Petitioner, v. Susan TRIPP, Defendant and Respondent.
Decision Date19 February 2010
Docket NumberNo. 20081068.

227 P.3d 1251
2010 UT 9

STATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Petitioner,
v.
Susan TRIPP, Defendant and Respondent.

No. 20081068.

Supreme Court of Utah.

February 19, 2010.


227 P.3d 1252

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

227 P.3d 1253

Mark L. Shurtleff, Att'y Gen., Jeffrey S. Gray, Asst. Att'y Gen., for plaintiff.

Ronald J. Yengich, Elizabeth Hunt, Salt Lake City, for defendant.

On Certiorari to the Utah Court of Appeals.

DURHAM, Chief Justice:

INTRODUCTION

¶ 1 On writ of certiorari, the State seeks review of the court of appeals' decision in State v. Tripp, 2008 UT App 388, 197 P.3d 99. The State asserts that the court of appeals erred when it reversed the trial court's denial of Defendant Susan Tripp's motion to suppress blood test results in her jury trial on a charge of automobile homicide. The court of appeals held that the State did not meet its burden to prove that her consent was voluntary, and it declined to affirm the trial court under the exigent circumstances exception or the inevitable discovery doctrine. Id. ¶ 26. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

I. MS. TRIPP KILLED A MOTORCYCLIST IN AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT

¶ 2 On April 23, 2004, Ms. Tripp was involved in an automobile-motorcycle accident. At about 6:50 p.m., Ms. Tripp drove her truck up to an intersection with a two-way stop sign. The intersection, located on the outskirts of West Jordan, was surrounded by farmland. Claiming she saw no traffic, she drove into the intersection. As she did, Ms. Tripp collided with a motorcyclist. A helicopter transported the severely injured motorcyclist to a hospital. The motorcyclist died the next day.

II. THE POLICE ASKED AN APPARENTLY UNIMPAIRED MS. TRIPP TO GIVE A BLOOD SAMPLE

¶ 3 Shortly after 7:00 p.m., West Jordan Police Officer Doug Saunders arrived at the scene of the crash. Upon his arrival, Ms.

227 P.3d 1254
Tripp was sitting in her husband's car. Tripp's husband had arrived sometime earlier. Officer Saunders observed Ms. Tripp crying and shaking. She had a cigarette in her hand and a heavy odor of smoke about her. He did not observe any signs of impairment. Speaking to her from within three feet he did not smell any alcohol, nor could he detect any slurred speech. Officer Saunders asked Ms. Tripp to fill out some paperwork. She returned the paperwork properly completed. When he asked Ms. Tripp if she had consumed any alcohol or taken any prescription medications, she replied, "No." Officer Saunders later admitted that he had no reason to disbelieve Ms. Tripp.

¶ 4 As a matter of practice in serious investigations, and not based on any particularized suspicion, Officer Saunders wanted to rule out impairment. Officer Saunders asked Ms. Tripp to submit to a blood draw. Ms. Tripp told him that she was afraid of needles and did not want her blood drawn with one. When Officer Saunders asked Ms. Tripp if she would submit to a urinalysis, she said she would, but Officer Saunders never administered the test.

¶ 5 At 7:30 p.m., Cecilia Budd, a victim advocate in the employ of West Jordan City, arrived at the scene. She spent roughly two hours with Ms. Tripp. When Ms. Budd first made contact with Ms. Tripp, Ms. Tripp was still sitting in her husband's car. Ms. Budd testified that she smelled alcohol in the husband's car when she poked her head through the window but was not sure where the odor came from. Ms. Budd told Ms. Tripp that she was there to support her. Ms. Budd testified that she reported the odor of alcohol in the husband's car to an officer.

¶ 6 Ms. Budd observed that Ms. Tripp was very upset and cried most of the time and that her crying "was like a roller coaster." She also saw Ms. Tripp smoke one cigarette because, according to Ms. Tripp, it calmed her down.

¶ 7 At 8:05 p.m., Detective Daniel Roberts arrived at the scene to investigate the expected death. Officer Saunders delegated the task of obtaining Ms. Tripp's blood sample to Detective Roberts. Detective Roberts acknowledged that Officer Saunders did not identify any probable cause justifying a blood draw. Rather, as Detective Roberts understood, the blood draw was standard procedure for an accident involving a death and that if a death was involved he could force the blood draw.

¶ 8 When Detective Roberts asked Ms. Tripp to consent to a blood draw, she refused. She told him that she would only give blood if no needle were used. Detective Roberts knew of no way to obtain blood without a needle. Nonetheless, in the span of about forty-five minutes, Detective Roberts requested three times that Ms. Tripp consent to a blood draw. In at least one of these requests, Detective Roberts was accompanied by two other officers. Ms. Tripp consistently refused to a blood draw by needle, but she again told the officers she would submit to a urinalysis. Nonetheless, the officers never administered a urinalysis, performed any field sobriety tests, or sought a warrant for a blood draw.

¶ 9 When speaking with Ms. Tripp, Detective Roberts was about three to four feet away from her. He did not detect any odor of alcohol. He did observe, however, that her eyes were red. He did not see any tears, and no one told him that she had cried. She was shaking and seemed to be nervous. However, Detective Roberts testified that the more he visited with Ms. Tripp, the more concerned he became that Ms. Tripp was perhaps impaired. Specifically, he observed that the redness in her eyes did not dissipate and she did not cry, she "lacked concern" for the victim of the accident, and she continually smoked.

¶ 10 With this concern in mind, Detective Roberts asked the victim advocates, Cecilia Budd and Diana Greives, to talk with Ms. Tripp in order to calm her down and to help her "become more relaxed to the idea of having a blood draw." Ms. Budd testified that persuading Ms. Tripp to submit to the blood test was "not her job." Nevertheless, she explained to Ms. Tripp that she had seen the blood technician draw blood and that he was "good, very gentle, and that Ms. Tripp did not have to look at the needle."

227 P.3d 1255
III. DETECTIVE ROBERTS ARRESTED MS. TRIPP BECAUSE SHE REFUSED TO GIVE BLOOD

¶ 11 Each time Detective Roberts made his request, Ms. Tripp was seated in her husband's vehicle with her friends, family, and the victim advocates. Upon Ms. Tripp's adamant refusal of Detective Roberts's third request, he arrested her and informed her that he would force the blood draw with a warrant. He explained:

The more we tried to convince her, the more defiant she became and then her family and her friends started to intervene and tell us what we could do and what we couldn't do and we were losing control of the situation so I took her into custody and removed her where we could control the whole situation.

When asked how the family and friends interfered, Detective Roberts responded that they were "telling her not to answer the questions.... Telling us that we couldn't take the blood and so I informed her that we were going to obtain a warrant then to get the blood draw and I took her into custody."

¶ 12 Detective Roberts did not handcuff Ms. Tripp, but he placed her in the back of his unmarked police car. At no time did Detective Roberts or any other officer read a Miranda warning to Ms. Tripp.

¶ 13 Detective Roberts asked Officer Joseph Monson to watch Ms. Tripp. Officer Monson did not know why Detective Roberts arrested Ms. Tripp. Officer Monson explained that although the family had interfered with the investigation, Ms. Tripp herself had never interfered. Further, Officer Monson did not detect any signs of impairment in Ms. Tripp. Ms. Tripp had no trouble walking, and Officer Monson did not smell any odor of alcohol.

¶ 14 At one point during the custody, Ms. Tripp's husband attempted to contact her while she was seated in the back of the unmarked car. Officer Monson refused to allow any contact, and he threatened to arrest the husband. Meanwhile, Ms. Budd remained by Ms. Tripp's side. Sitting in the backseat with Ms. Tripp, Ms. Budd again smelled alcohol. This time she was sure the odor came from Ms. Tripp.

IV. THE POLICE PROCURED A WARRANTLESS BLOOD DRAW

¶ 15 Detective Roberts testified that to obtain a warrant he customarily follows a certain procedure. This procedure requires him to review all the information with the officers at the scene, call another detective to help draft and review the warrant with the district attorney, and then obtain a district court judge's signature, which is available by electronic communication.

¶ 16 Detective Roberts never attempted to secure a warrant. When the blood technician, Brian Davis, arrived, Detective Roberts informed Mr. Davis of the need to obtain a warrant and that the process would take a couple of hours. When Mr. Davis learned that Ms. Tripp's nonconsent stemmed from her fear of needles, the two agreed that Mr. Davis would talk to Ms. Tripp to "work around her fear of needles," and that Ms. Tripp might give her consent because Mr. Davis was "not ... a police officer or involved in any of the original investigation and that she might be easier with his demeanor." Detective Roberts ordered Officer Monson to supervise the situation between Mr. Davis and Ms. Tripp. Detective Roberts did not return until Mr. Davis had drawn a blood sample.

¶ 17 Mr. Davis spoke with Ms. Tripp for about ten to fifteen minutes. Talking about six inches from Ms. Tripp's face, Mr. Davis noticed a slight odor of alcohol coming from Ms. Tripp's mouth. Mr. Davis testified that Ms. Tripp continually insisted that she was afraid of needles and wanted her husband. Mr. Davis also testified that "a couple of times during the conversation he kind of paraphrased her civil entitlements" and told her about her right to counsel and the right to remain silent.

¶ 18 At about 9:00 p.m., Mr. Davis took a blood sample from Ms. Tripp. During the draw, Ms. Tripp sat in the backseat of Detective Roberts's car. The door was open, and she sat with her legs and arms...

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31 practice notes
  • Manzanares v. Byington (In re Baby B.), No. 20090740.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • January 27, 2012
    ...reexamination of the facts on appeal. Such findings are accordingly overturned only when “clearly erroneous.” See, e.g., State v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, ¶ 23, 227 P.3d 1251. ¶ 41 Conclusions of law are at the other end of the spectrum. No deference is given to the lower court's analysis of abstr......
  • Manzanares v. Byington (In re Adoption Baby B.), No. 20090740.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • June 15, 2012
    ...reexamination of the facts on appeal. Such findings are accordingly overturned only when “clearly erroneous.” See, e.g., State v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, ¶ 23, 227 P.3d 1251. ¶ 41 Conclusions of law are at the other end of the spectrum. No deference is given to the lower court's analysis of abstr......
  • State v. Mitchell, No. 20110723–CA.
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • December 12, 2013
    ...evidence is the product of illegal governmental activity, a court must suppress the evidence to deter the illegality.” State v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, ¶ 56, 227 P.3d 1251 (citing Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, 442–43, 104 S.Ct. 2501, 81 L.Ed.2d 377 (1984)). One exception to this rule is the inev......
  • State v. Strieff, No. 20100541–CA.
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • August 30, 2012
    ...it has been recognized under Utah law.3 We review the district court's denial of a motion to suppress for correctness. See State v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, ¶ 23, 227 P.3d 1251. We likewise review the court's interpretation of precedent in reaching its decision to suppress for correctness. See gen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • Manzanares v. Byington (In re Baby B.), No. 20090740.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • January 27, 2012
    ...reexamination of the facts on appeal. Such findings are accordingly overturned only when “clearly erroneous.” See, e.g., State v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, ¶ 23, 227 P.3d 1251. ¶ 41 Conclusions of law are at the other end of the spectrum. No deference is given to the lower court's analysis of abstr......
  • Manzanares v. Byington (In re Adoption Baby B.), No. 20090740.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • June 15, 2012
    ...reexamination of the facts on appeal. Such findings are accordingly overturned only when “clearly erroneous.” See, e.g., State v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, ¶ 23, 227 P.3d 1251. ¶ 41 Conclusions of law are at the other end of the spectrum. No deference is given to the lower court's analysis of abstr......
  • State v. Mitchell, No. 20110723–CA.
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • December 12, 2013
    ...evidence is the product of illegal governmental activity, a court must suppress the evidence to deter the illegality.” State v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, ¶ 56, 227 P.3d 1251 (citing Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, 442–43, 104 S.Ct. 2501, 81 L.Ed.2d 377 (1984)). One exception to this rule is the inev......
  • State v. Strieff, No. 20100541–CA.
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • August 30, 2012
    ...it has been recognized under Utah law.3 We review the district court's denial of a motion to suppress for correctness. See State v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, ¶ 23, 227 P.3d 1251. We likewise review the court's interpretation of precedent in reaching its decision to suppress for correctness. See gen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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