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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 9, 2014

KOLYANN WILLIAMS, Appellant/Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee/Plaintiff

Page 731

APPEAL FROM THE HOWARD SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable William C. Menges, Jr., Judge. Cause No. 34D01-1402-CM-101.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CRAIG A. DECHERT, Howard County Deputy Public Defender, Kokomo, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, LARRY D. ALLEN, Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

BRADFORD, Judge. NAJAM, J., and MATHIAS, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 732

BRADFORD, Judge.

CASE SUMMARY

Appellant/Defendant Kolyann Williams was pulled over by Kokomo Police Officer Jeff Packard when Officer Packard noticed that one of the tail lamps on Williams's vehicle had a hole and was emitting white light. As Packard approached the vehicle, he detected the odor of marijuana. After a police canine alerted to the presence of drugs in Williams's vehicle, Officer Packard retrieved a bag containing marijuana from Williams's person. Appellee/Plaintiff the State of Indiana ("the State") charged Williams with Class A misdemeanor marijuana possession, and the trial court found him guilty as charged, sentenced him to 365 days of incarceration, and suspended 363 days to probation. Williams contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because Officer Packard's stop was illegal. Because we conclude that Officer Packard did not have reasonable suspicion to believe that Williams had committed an infraction, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

While patrolling during the midnight shift of February 15, 2014, Officer Packard noticed a 1988 black Oldsmobile Cutlass in front of him and "observed that the passenger side taillight had a large hole in it that was allowing a significant amount of while light to emit out of it while it was in forward motion." Tr. p. 6. According to Officer Packard, the hole was the size of approximately forty to fifty percent of the entire tail lamp with a "miniscule" amount of red light emitting from around the outer rim. Officer Packard observed Williams's vehicle from approximately 300 to 700 feet away, and described the "unfiltered" white light as "overwhelming" the "filtered red light whose source was the same bulb." Tr. pp. 11-12. Officer Packard believed that any white light emitting from the rear of a vehicle in forward motion was a traffic infraction.

Officer Packard initiated a traffic stop and detected the faint odor of marijuana coming from inside. Officer Packard called for backup, and another officer

Page 733

brought a canine, which canine indicated the presence of drugs in Williams's vehicle. Williams admitted that he had a "smoke bag" in his pocket, and Officer Packard found a plastic baggie of ...


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