State v. Woodrome, WD 75460.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtMARK D. PFEIFFER
Citation407 S.W.3d 702
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Clinton Eugene WOODROME, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. WD 75460.,WD 75460.
Decision Date10 September 2013

407 S.W.3d 702

STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
Clinton Eugene WOODROME, Appellant.

No. WD 75460.

Missouri Court of Appeals,
Western District.

Sept. 10, 2013.

[407 S.W.3d 704]

Chris Koster, Attorney General, Jessica P. Meredith, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.

Erika R. Eliason, Assistant Public Defender, Columbia, MO, for appellant.

Before Division Three Judges: LISA WHITE HARDWICK, Presiding Judge, and MARK D. PFEIFFER and CYNTHIA L. MARTIN, Judges.


This is a case addressing the reasonableness—or unreasonableness as it were—of one's expectation of privacy in stolen property. Clinton Woodrome (“Woodrome”) appeals the judgment of the Circuit Court of Bates County, Missouri (“trial court”), convicting him, after a jury trial, of three counts of receiving stolen property, § 570.080. On appeal, Woodrome claims that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence and then admitting evidence obtained in what Woodrome argues was an unlawful search conducted without a search warrant and absent exigent circumstances. We affirm.

[407 S.W.3d 705]

Factual and Procedural Background

On August 13, 2009, several law enforcement officers, including Detective Joseph Botta and Sergeant Mike Mullaney, went to the Arrowhead RV and Trailer Park to execute arrest warrants for two men: Woodrome and Scott Shankle (“Shankle”). When the officers entered the RV park, the park's owner, Jack Kimlin, approached the officers to determine why they were there. The officers showed Mr. Kimlin the mugshots of both Woodrome and Shankle and asked whether Mr. Kimlin knew the men. Mr. Kimlin confirmed that Woodrome rented a lot from him at the RV park, but that Mr. Kimlin knew Woodrome by a false name Woodrome had provided Mr. Kimlin. Mr. Kimlin also told the officers that Shankle, whom he knew as “Scooter,” stayed with Woodrome in the park, as did Woodrome's girlfriend. Mr. Kimlin told the officers that he did not believe Woodrome and Shankle were currently present on the premises. However, Mr. Kimlin showed the officers to Woodrome's lot, which could be seen from the highway adjacent to the RV park.

On Woodrome's rented lot were a fifth-wheel RV trailer and several other vehicles, including a blue panel-type construction truck, a black Dodge “dually” pickup truck, and a white Pace trailer, which was hitched to the Dodge pickup. The officers approached the RV to attempt to execute the arrest warrant; one officer knocked on the door to the RV while another “covered” the front end of the trailer. No one answered the officers' knocks. Detective Botta, who was covering the front end of the RV trailer, saw the panel with the VIN number for the trailer. He ran the VIN number over his police radio and learned that the RV had been reported as having been stolen. The officers then looked around the RV. The officers noticed that all of the locks on the construction truck had been drilled out, which was an indication that the vehicle had been stolen. A look through the window of the construction truck revealed that the ignition had also been drilled out. The officers then proceeded to run the VIN number for the black Dodge pickup, which had also been reported stolen. Finally, the officers noticed that the VIN panel for the Pace trailer had been removed, which indicated to the officers that it had also likely been stolen.

At about this time, Shankle returned to the RV park. The police officers approached Shankle, who was riding a stolen motorcycle, and arrested him. Shortly thereafter, Woodrome returned to the RV park on a motorcycle, accompanied by his girlfriend. The officers, who were in uniform, attempted to stop Woodrome to arrest him; but Woodrome refused to stop the motorcycle, sped off to the back of the RV park where he abandoned the motorcycle, and Woodrome and his girlfriend escaped on foot. Woodrome was not apprehended until days or weeks later.

The stolen vehicles at the RV park were seized by the officers and were taken to two different tow lots where they were searched. The search of the vehicles produced incriminating evidence. The vehicles were ultimately released either to their owners or to insurance companies who had paid the owners for the loss of the stolen property.

Woodrome was charged with four counts of receiving stolen property, § 570.080, for having been in possession of the fifth-wheel RV trailer, the black Dodge dually truck, the blue construction truck, and the Pace pull-behind trailer. Woodrome's trial counsel filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized by the police on August 13, 2009, arguing that the officers did not have the lawful authority to search the vehicles on his RV lot leased from the RV park.

[407 S.W.3d 706]

The trial court denied Woodrome's motion to suppress, and the evidence seized was admitted at trial. Woodrome was found guilty on three counts and acquitted on the count relating to the black Dodge pickup. Woodrome appeals.

Standard of Review

Appellate courts review the trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling and defer to the trial court's determinations of credibility. State v. Schroeder, 330 S.W.3d 468, 472 (Mo. banc 2011). Review is limited to determining if the ruling is supported by substantial evidence. Id. Analysis of whether law enforcement conduct violates the Fourth Amendment is a legal issue that is reviewed de novo. Id.

“In reviewing the trial court's denial of a motion to suppress, we consider 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. Nelson, 334 S.W.3d 189, 193 (Mo.App. W.D.2011). The facts and inferences therefrom are reviewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling, and all contrary inferences are disregarded. Id. “Our review is limited to a determination of whether there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court's findings.” Id. “We defer to the trial court's superior opportunity to judge the credibility of the witnesses at the suppression motion hearing.” Id.

“Ordinarily, appellate courts will reverse a ruling on a motion to suppress only if it is clearly erroneous and will reverse admission of testimony only if the trial court abused its discretion.” Foster v. State, 348 S.W.3d 158, 161 (Mo.App. E.D.2011).


The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which applies to the States by way of the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. A person who seeks to have evidence against him suppressed on Fourth Amendment grounds “has the burden of establishing that his ... rights were violated by the challenged search or seizure.” Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 130 n. 1, 99 S.Ct. 421, 58 L.Ed.2d 387 (1978). The person arguing for suppression meets his initial burden of proving he is aggrieved by the search and seizure through showing that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area or item that was searched or seized. Soldal v. Cook Cnty., Ill., 506 U.S. 56, 63, 113 S.Ct. 538, 121 L.Ed.2d 450 (1992). This standard has two parts: (1) “whether the individual by his conduct has exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy,” and (2) “whether the individual's subjective expectation of privacy...

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  • State v. Patterson, 109,995.
    • United States
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    • 22 Abril 2016
    ...705 N.E.2d 1110 (1999) (scope of warrant describing residence extends to automobiles located within the curtilage); State v. Woodrome, 407 S.W.3d 702, 708 (Mo.App.2013) (“[I]f a dwelling is subject to search, as by a warrant, then the curtilage may also be searched pursuant to the warrant, ......
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    ...of whether law enforcement conduct violates the Fourth Amendment is a legal issue that is reviewed de novo. " State v. Woodrome , 407 S.W.3d 702, 706 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013). The State contends that, although the warrant did not expressly permit the officers to search the garden, the search wa......
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    ...S.Ct. 1134, 94 L.Ed.2d 326 (1987). “The term ‘curtilage’ has no application to any building not used as a dwelling.” State v. Woodrome, 407 S.W.3d 702, 707–08 (Mo.App.2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). Here, a review of the evidence pertaining to the physical location and attributes ......
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    ...expectation of privacy in the place searched. Id. ; United States v. Stults , 575 F.3d 834, 842 (8th Cir. 2009) ; State v. Woodrome , 407 S.W.3d 702, 706 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013). This standard involves a two-part inquiry: (1) whether the defendant by his conduct has exhibited an actual (subjec......
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