Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable
Jimmie M. Edwards
M. Hess, Judge.
Hughes was found guilty in a court-tried case in the circuit
court of the City of St. Louis of two counts of possession of
a controlled substance and one count of unlawful use of drug
paraphernalia arising out of a search of Hughes's person
and his drawstring bag that was next to him in the backseat
of a car before he got out, was arrested and handcuffed. In
his sole point on appeal, Hughes argues the trial court
abused its discretion in denying his motion to suppress the
evidence obtained from the search of his bag because he had
already been handcuffed and the bag was outside of his
control. We affirm.
and Procedural Background
September 9, 2015, Hughes was the sole passenger in the back
of a vehicle stopped by police for a traffic violation.
Officers Ryan Murphy and Tom Jeffries approached the vehicle
and obtained identifying information from the three
occupants. The officers ran a search of the occupants'
names and discovered the driver did not have a license and
there was a warrant out for Hughes. The officers approached
Hughes and asked him to step out of the vehicle. He complied.
Officer Murphy handcuffed Hughes and placed him under arrest.
Officer Murphy then searched Hughes and found drugs in his
pants pocket. Hughes was standing between the officers and
the vehicle he stepped out of. The officers saw a Nike
drawstring bag was directly next to where Hughes was sitting
before he was arrested. Officer Murphy asked Hughes if it was
his bag; he responded it was. Officer Jeffries then retrieved
the bag from the vehicle and searched it in front of Officer
Murphy and Hughes and found drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Hughes was taken into custody and the other two passengers
were allowed to leave.
was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled
substance, specifically heroin and cocaine base, and unlawful
use of drug paraphernalia. Hughes filed a motion to suppress
the evidence obtained from the search of the bag. The trial
court took the motion with the case and denied it after
hearing all of the evidence. The court found Hughes guilty of
all charges and sentenced him to concurrent terms of seven
years' imprisonment for the possession of controlled
substance charges and thirty days' for the unlawful use
of drug paraphernalia charge. This appeal follows.
direct appeal, we review for prejudice, not mere error, and
will reverse only if the error was so prejudicial that it
deprived the defendant of a fair trial. State v.
Marrow, 968 S.W.2d 100, 106 (Mo.banc 1998). We review
the facts in the light most favorable to the verdict.
review a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress in
the light most favorable to the ruling. State v.
Schroeder, 330 S.W.3d 468, 472 (Mo.banc 2011). We defer
to the trial court's determinations of credibility.
Id. The inquiry is limited to determining whether
the decision is supported by substantial evidence.
Id. We will reverse only if the trial court's
decision is clearly erroneous. State v. Oliver, 293
S.W.3d 437, 442 (Mo.banc 2009).
contends the trial court erred by denying his motion to
suppress evidence obtained from the warrantless search of his
Nike drawstring bag. Relying on the Missouri Supreme Court
decision issued January 12, 2016, State v.
Carrawell, 481 S.W.3d 833 (Mo. banc 2016), Hughes
asserts the search of his bag was unlawful because it was not
within his immediate control when searched. The State avers
that Carrawell is factually distinguishable because
Hughes was not secured in the police car before the search
and the bag was within Hughes's reach, that the search
was proper, and that even if the search was unlawful pursuant
to Carrawell's precedent moving forward, the
trial court did not abuse its discretion because
Carrawell only applies to searches made after that
decision was issued and the search here occurred before it.
Based upon the State's final argument, we find the trial
court did not err in admitting the evidence obtained from the
search of the drawstring bag.
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees
citizens the right to be free from "unreasonable
searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV. Evidence
discovered in violation of the Fourth Amendment must be
excluded as fruit of the poisonous tree. Oliver, 293
S.W.3d at 442. Whether conduct violates the Fourth Amendment
is an issue of law we review de novo. Schroeder, 330
S.W.3d at 472.
Carrawell, the defendant parked his vehicle across
the street from an apartment building where police officers
were speaking with residents outside. As the defendant
stepped out of his vehicle he stared at one of the officers,
grabbed his crotch, spit in the officers' direction, and
said, "What the fuck are you looking at, bitch?"
The defendant removed a white plastic grocery bag from the
car and continued to utter vulgarities towards the officers.
An officer approached the defendant and notified him that he
was under arrest for peace disturbance. The defendant walked
away from the officer and attempted to open an apartment door
but the officer grabbed ahold of him. A struggle ensued as
the officer attempted to handcuff the defendant and
repeatedly asked him to drop the bag. Eventually the officer
was able to rip the bag from the defendant's hands and it
fell to the ground, producing ...