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State v. Delapp

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Special Division

August 6, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
DENNIS W. DELAPP, II, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Pettis County, Missouri The Honorable Robert L. Koffman, Judge

          Before: Zel M. Fischer, Special Judge, Presiding, Karen King Mitchell, Chief Judge, and Lisa White Hardwick, Judge Dennis

          Karen King Mitchell, Chief Judge

         Delapp appeals, following a jury trial, his convictions of possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to deliver, § 195.211, [1] unlawful possession of a firearm, § 571.070, and possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use, § 195.233, for which he was sentenced as a persistent felony offender to concurrent terms of fifteen and seven years' imprisonment in the department of corrections and one year in the county jail, respectively. Delapp raises a single point on appeal; he argues that the trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress and admitting into evidence contraband found upon a search of his vehicle. Finding no error, we affirm.

         Background[2]

         On February 6, 2016, Officer David Smith of the Sedalia Police Department was investigating a residence at 1004 South Osage following a report from a historically reliable confidential informant a man named "Denny" was selling methamphetamine out of the basement. The confidential informant advised that "Denny" drove a tan Chevy Blazer, lived in Warrensburg, and would drive between Sedalia and Warrensburg to restock his drug supply. Based upon the confidential informant's information, Officer Smith located a tan Chevy Blazer at 1004 South Osage earlier in the week and ran a check on the license plates. The Blazer was registered to Dennis Delapp with an address in Warrensburg.

         As Officer Smith was surveilling the residence, he saw two people exit, get into the Blazer, and begin to drive away. Officer Smith then got into his vehicle and pursued the Blazer. While in pursuit, Officer Smith contacted a canine officer to meet him with a drug dog. A few blocks later, Officer Smith activated his lights and siren and pulled the Blazer over.[3]

         After stopping the vehicle, Officer Smith approached the driver (subsequently identified as Dennis Delapp), obtained information about both Delapp and the passenger, and then returned to his vehicle to run a check on their licenses. Officer Smith requested Delapp's consent to search the vehicle, but Delapp refused. Officer Smith then had Officer Lorenz (the canine officer) deploy the drug dog to conduct an external examination of the Blazer. The dog alerted at the driver's side door. Officers Smith and Lorenz then searched the interior of the Blazer, specifically the driver-side door, and located a loaded handgun with hollow-point ammunition; some methamphetamine pipes; 0.46 grams of methamphetamine in small, zip-style baggies; and a digital scale.

         The State charged Delapp, as a persistent felony offender, with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a firearm, and possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use. Before trial, Delapp filed a motion to suppress the contraband found in his vehicle, arguing that it was the fruit of an unlawful warrantless search. At the suppression hearing, Officer Smith testified to the above facts, and the trial court overruled the motion to suppress. Delapp was granted a continuing objection throughout trial to evidence pertaining to the search and the items discovered as a result. The jury found Delapp guilty as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to concurrent terms of fifteen and seven years' imprisonment in the department of corrections and one year in the county jail. Delapp appeals.

         Standard of Review

         "Appellate review of the denial of a motion to suppress is limited to a determination of whether there is substantial evidence to support the ruling." State v. Donovan, 539 S.W.3d 57, 64 (Mo. App. E.D. 2017). "In making this determination, this court reviews both the record of the suppression hearing and the trial." Id. "We give deference to the trial court's factual findings and credibility determinations, but questions of law, including whether the Fourth Amendment has been violated, are reviewed de novo." Id. at 64-65.

         Analysis

         Delapp raises a single claim of error on appeal. He argues that the trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress and admitting into evidence the contraband found in his vehicle because, he claims, there was no probable cause to search the vehicle.[4] We disagree.

         "The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures." State v. Deaton, 395 S.W.3d 50, 54 (Mo. App. S.D. 2013). "Under most circumstances, a warrantless search is presumptively unreasonable." Id. "However, a warrantless search will not offend the Fourth Amendment if it was conducted pursuant to a well-recognized exception." Id ...


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