Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri The Honorable
Thomas Sodergren, Judge
Before: Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge, Cynthia L.
Martin, Judge and Gary D. Witt, Judge
Cynthia L. Martin, Judge
McCarty ("McCarty") appeals from the trial
court's judgment convicting him of misdemeanor possession
of an intoxicating liquor by a minor. McCarty argues that the
trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress
evidence discovered through a traffic stop. McCarty claims
that the evidence should have been suppressed because it was
obtained following an investigatory traffic stop that was
unsupported by reasonable suspicion that McCarty was involved
in illegal activity. McCarty also contends that the State
failed to prove an essential element of the charged offense
because the evidence offered to prove his age at the time of
the offense was inadmissible. We reverse.
and Procedural Background
approximately 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 2014, Corporal Arthur
Brown ("Corporal Brown") of the Cole County
Sheriff's Department responded to a call from dispatch.
Dispatch advised that an anonymous caller had reported that a
male and female were having a "loud disturbance" in
a parking lot outside an apartment complex located in the
3000 block of Cassidy Road off of Highway 54 in Cole County,
Missouri. The anonymous caller described the disturbance as a
Brown arrived in the area of the reported argument about ten
minutes after the call from dispatch. As Corporal Brown was
about 100 to 150 feet from the apartment complex, he noticed
a vehicle coming towards him on Cassidy Road. As his
headlights illuminated the vehicle, Corporal Brown could see
a male driver and a female passenger in the vehicle. Corporal
Brown testified during a suppression hearing that
"initially I didn't think anything of it" when
he passed the vehicle on Cassidy Road.
Brown proceeded to the parking lot of the apartment complex.
As he drove through the parking lot, he found no one outside,
nor at the specific address where the call came from.
Corporal Brown did not stop to knock on any doors, and did
not talk to anyone at the scene. Corporal Brown testified
during the suppression hearing that he did not observe
anything that would confirm two people had actually been
arguing outside of the apartment complex. Corporal Brown then
When I got to the apartment and noticed there wasn't
anything outside, you know--I've been doing this for a
while. I'm trained that, you know, sometimes people leave
the area--so that was just--it was kind of a hunch that maybe
[the people in the vehicle he passed on Cassidy Road] are the
people that were in the argument. And I just had to check on
it just to make sure.
Brown thus turned around, left the parking lot, and caught up
with the vehicle he had passed on Cassidy Road. Corporal
Brown pulled the vehicle over to investigate whether the
occupants were involved in the reported argument.
Brown approached the vehicle and identified McCarty as the
driver using McCarty's driver's license. Corporal
Brown observed that McCarty was under twenty-one years of age
based on the date of birth on the driver's license. While
speaking with McCarty, Corporal Brown could smell alcohol.
Corporal Brown mentioned that McCarty was underage and
McCarty agreed. Corporal Brown administered a preliminary
breathalyzer test on McCarty, which tested positive for the
presence of alcohol. Corporal Brown arrested McCarty. After
arresting McCarty, Corporal Brown secured the vehicle at the
scene and saw a case of beer on the backseat floorboard
behind the driver's seat.
was charged with misdemeanor possession of an intoxicating
liquor by a minor pursuant to section 311.325. McCarty filed a
motion to suppress challenging the lawfulness of Corporal
Brown's traffic stop. The trial court overruled
trial, Corporal Brown testified about the events on the night
of McCarty's arrest. Evidence seized after the stop of
McCarty's vehicle was admitted over McCarty's
objection regarding the lawfulness of the stop. Defense
counsel also objected when Corporal Brown was asked to state
the date of birth he saw listed on McCarty's driver's
license, claiming the testimony was hearsay and violated the
best evidence rule. The trial court took that objection with
State's request, and without objection, the trial court
took judicial notice of the following cases: 14AC-CR00995-01,
13AC-CR02465, 12AC-CR01619, 120052500, and 091184137. ...