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State v. Esmerovic

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division

April 10, 2018

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
ADNAN ESMEROVIC, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable Steven R. Ohmer

          KURT S. ODENWALD, Judge.

         Introduction

         Adnan Esmerovic ("Esmerovic") appeals from the trial court's judgment after a jury found him guilty of first-degree attempted robbery. In his sole point on appeal, Esmerovic contends that the trial court clearly erred in denying his motion to suppress his confession because his statements followed a warrantless arrest. Because the officer had probable cause to arrest Esmerovic, the trial court did not clearly err in denying Esmerovic's motion. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural History

         A man entered a bakery with what appeared to be a gun, and demanded money from the cashier, who was working by herself. The cashier refused to give the man any money, then led the man out of the store. The cashier quickly returned to the store and locked the door behind her; the man left. The bakery's video surveillance recorded the attempted robbery. The cashier did not speak fluent English; she contacted the bakery owner's mother to inform her about the attempted robbery. The mother phoned the bakery owner, Haris Delic ("Delic"), Delic then called the police.

         Officer Hajrudin Ducanovic ("Officer Ducanovic"), a local beat officer, responded to the call and arrived at the bakery. As a beat officer, Officer Ducanovic's responsibilities include patrolling a small geographic area, checking on local businesses, and generally familiarizing himself with the community members. Officer Ducanovic reviewed the surveillance video with Delic and the cashier. The video showed a man wearing all black clothing, a bandana concealing his face, and white shoes with a black puma logo. Officer Ducanovic spoke further with Delic and the cashier and gathered further information. Among the information Officer Ducanovic received was a description of the man's voice. After the conversation, Officer Ducanovic suspected that Esmerovic with whom Officer Ducanovic had previously interacted-was the attempted robber.

         Officer Ducanovic and Detective Quntrell Crayton ("Det. Crayton") showed the video and video stills to Esmerovic's mother, who lived around the corner from the bakery. Officer Ducanovic continued to suspect Esmerovic of the attempted robbery after speaking to Esmerovic's mother. Later that same night, Officer Ducanovic and Det. Crayton drove around the neighborhood looking for Esmerovic, but were unable to locate him. Det. Crayton entered a wanted[1] into the police system for Esmerovic.

         The next day, Officer Ducanovic was conducting a routine traffic stop when he observed Esmerovic at a car dealership. Esmerovic was wearing dark clothes and white shoes with a black puma logo, which are common among his neighborhood. Officer Ducanovic believed the shoes Esmerovic was wearing matched the shoes worn by the man in the video. Officer Ducanovic approached Esmerovic. Officer Ducanovic told Esmerovic that he was wanted for questioning, and placed him into custody. Subsequently, Det. Crayton and Detective Martin Garcia ("Det. Garcia") interviewed Esmerovic.

         Det. Garcia was informed that the attempted robber had an accent and that Esmerovic matched the attempted robber's body type. During the interview, Det. Garcia noted that Esmerovic spoke with an accent. Esmerovic admitted that he attempted to rob the bakery, but claimed that he used a fake gun during the incident. The State charged Esmerovic with first-degree attempted robbery and armed criminal action.

         Before trial, Esmerovic moved to suppress his confession. Esmerovic claimed that his confession was the fruit of the poisonous tree because Officer Ducanovic arrested him solely because of the wanted; thus, his warrantless arrest lacked probable cause. The trial court held a hearing and subsequently denied Esmerovic's motion to suppress.

         The case proceeded to a jury trial. The trial court admitted Esmerovic's confession. The jury found Esmerovic guilty of first-degree attempted robbery and not guilty of armed criminal action. The trial court denied Esmerovic's post-trial motions and sentenced him to five years in prison. This appeal follows.

         Point on Appeal

         In his sole point on appeal, Esmerovic contends that the trial court clearly erred in denying his motion to suppress because his warrantless arrest lacked probable cause, in violation of his Fourth Amendment[2] rights. Esmerovic maintains that his ...


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