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State v. Humble

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

November 3, 2015

STATE OF MISSOURI, Appellant,
v.
CHRISTOPHER P. HUMBLE, Respondent

Page 211

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 212

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CALLAWAY COUNTY. THE HONORABLE GARY M. OXENHANDLER, JUDGE.

Andrew C. Hooper, Jefferson City, MO for appellant.

Margaret Mueller Johnston, Columbia, MO for respondent.

BEFORE DIVISION TWO: MARK D. PFEIFFER, PRESIDING JUDGE, LISA WHITE HARDWICK AND JAMES E. WELSH, JUDGES. ALL CONCUR.

OPINION

LISA WHITE HARDWICK, J.

Page 213

Christopher Humble was charged with possession of a controlled substance following the warrantless search of the vehicle he was driving. The circuit court granted Humble's motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the trunk of the vehicle. In this interlocutory appeal pursuant to Section 547.200.1(3),[1] the State contends the court erred in suppressing the evidence because the trunk search was justified as a search incident to a lawful arrest and under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement. For reasons explained herein, we find no error and affirm the suppression order.

Factual and Procedural History

On the afternoon of January 20, 2014, Trooper David Fouch of the Missouri State Highway Patrol received a call that a black Chevrolet Malibu was driving on Interstate 70 in a careless manner. Shortly thereafter, Fouch observed the vehicle, driven by Humble,[2] following another vehicle too closely. Fouch entered the highway to initiate a traffic stop. Humble immediately exited the interstate, turned south on a county road and then turned west on a state highway. Fouch activated his emergency lights and stopped the vehicle.

Upon approaching the vehicle, Fouch noticed that Humble's eyes appeared watery and that he rubbed them continuously. Humble explained that he had exited the interstate because he was tired and was looking for a place to rest. Humble complied with the Trooper's request to exit the vehicle and sit in the front passenger seat of the patrol car. Suspicious that Humble was driving while intoxicated based on his watery eyes, mumbling, and " unsteady" movement, Fouch conducted a series of field sobriety tests inside the patrol car, which Humble " successfully" completed.

Fouch asked whether Humble had taken any drugs, which Humble initially denied. Fouch asked whether a canine sniff would reveal the presence of drugs. Humble admitted that a single strip of Suboxone[3] was located in the center console of the vehicle. He further admitted that he had taken one earlier that day. Fouch read Humble his Miranda [4] rights, but informed him that he was not under arrest. Fouch told Humble that he was going to search the vehicle. Humble denied Fouch permission to search the vehicle but offered to retrieve the Suboxone for him.

When another officer arrived at the scene, Fouch approached the vehicle to begin a search. Humble rolled down the patrol car's window and again told Fouch that he did not grant permission to search the car. Fouch then allowed Humble to exit the patrol car and retrieve the Suboxone from the center console. Fouch saw syringes in the console during this retrieval process.

Fouch took Humble back to the patrol car and placed him in handcuffs for officer safety. He told Humble that he was going to search the rest of the car and asked if there was anything that he needed to know about before he did so. Humble told him that ...


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