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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 20, 2014

CLYDE WILLIAMS, JR., Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

Editorial Note:

These opinions are not precedents and cannot be cited or relied upon unless used when establishing res judicata or collateral estoppel or in actions between the same party. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 65(D).

APPEAL FROM THE GRANT SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Warren Haas, Judge. Cause No. 27D03-1208-FD-434.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CRAIG PERSINGER, Marion, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, MICHAEL GENE WORDEN, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

VAIDIK, Chief Judge. RILEY, J., and MAY, J., concur.

OPINION

MEMORANDUM DECISION - NOT FOR PUBLICATION

VAIDIK, Chief Judge.

Case Summary

A police officer could not see some of the numbers on Clyde Williams Jr.'s license plate and then saw him briefly cross the center line twice. The officer pulled him over, at which point he learned that Williams was a habitual traffic violator. Williams now appeals his conviction for Class D felony operating a motor vehicle while privileges are suspended, arguing that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop him. Finding that the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop Williams because he crossed the center line, we affirm Williams' conviction.

Facts and Procedural History

On the afternoon of July 3, 2012, Grant County Sheriff's Deputy Brent Beebe was on patrol in Marion, Indiana, when he saw a red truck occupied by two males. Williams was the driver. Deputy Beebe thought the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt so he decided to follow the truck. He also saw scrap metal in the truck bed. Deputy Beebe turned on his in-dash camera. While Deputy Beebe was following the truck, he could not see one or two of the license-plate numbers because they were partially obscured by the ball on the trailer hitch. Deputy Beebe stopped and waited at the end of a road for several minutes to see if the truck belonged in the neighborhood or if they were trying to avoid him. When the truck appeared again, Deputy Beebe followed it onto Horton Street, which is a two-way street with a double-yellow line in the center. The truck was the only car on the road at the time. While Officer Beebe was following the truck, he saw Williams briefly cross the center line twice. Officer Beebe pulled over Williams, at which point he learned from dispatch that Williams was a habitual traffic violator. Ex. 2.

The State charged Williams with Class D felony operating a motor vehicle while privileges are suspended. Williams filed a motion to suppress all evidence stemming from the traffic stop because the evidence "does not show that Deputy Beebe had proper constitutional grounds to stop the vehicle in question." Appellant's App. p. 29. At the motion-to-suppress hearing, Deputy Beebe testified, and the video from his in-dash camera was admitted into evidence. See Ex. 1. The court denied Williams' motion, finding that "the weight of the evidence is that the vehicle went left of center twice. . . . The officer had every right to make the . . . stop . . . ." Tr. p. 30. The court also found that the partially obscured license plate, by itself, supported the stop.[1]

Williams did not seek an interlocutory appeal, and a bench trial was held. The motion-to-suppress hearing was incorporated into Williams' bench trial. The trial court found Williams guilty as charged and ...


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