from the Grant Superior Court The Honorable Jeffrey D. Todd,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 27D01-1404-FA-5
Attorney for Appellant William T. Myers Grant County Public
Defender Marion, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of
Indiana Larry D. Allen Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis,
Will Thomas ("Thomas") was convicted of Dealing in
a Narcotic Drug, as a Class A felony. He now appeals.
Thomas raises one issue for our review, which we restate as
whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
admitted into evidence heroin recovered from Thomas after a
warrantless arrest following a traffic stop.
and Procedural History
On April 7, 2014, acting on information obtained from an
informant, a joint task force of officers from the City of
Marion Police Department and the Grant County Sheriff's
Office engaged in surveillance of a white Dodge Caravan with
temporary Illinois license plates. The vehicle was located at
a hotel in Marion.
Around 3:30 p.m., Byron Christmas ("Christmas") and
Thomas, who matched physical descriptions provided by the
informant, got in the van and left the parking lot of the
hotel. Detective Mark Stefanatos ("Detective
Stefanatos"), one of the officers conducting
surveillance, observed the van change lanes without properly
signaling a lane change, and requested that a uniformed
officer, Joseph Martin ("Officer Martin"), conduct
a traffic stop.
Officer Martin conducted a traffic stop of the van. Christmas
was driving the van, and Thomas was seated in the front
passenger's seat. Detective Stefanatos came to the
traffic stop, as did a police K9 handler, Grant County
Sheriff's Deputy Matt Sneed ("Deputy Sneed").
Officer Martin spoke with Christmas while Detective
Stefanatos spoke with Thomas. Each officer attempted to
verify the men's identity and reason for their travel
During their conversation, Officer Martin obtained
Christmas's written permission to search the van. Upon
obtaining Christmas's permission to search, Deputy Sneed
had his police dog begin to sniff the vehicle, starting along
the driver's side from the rear bumper and moving toward
the front of the car. The dog, which was trained in narcotics
detection and suspect apprehension, alerted next to the
After the police dog alerted to the presence of narcotics,
the officers had Christmas and Thomas exit the vehicle and
conducted a pat-down search for officer safety. Christmas and
Thomas were each asked whether they would consent to a strip
search at the police station, and were informed that officers
would seek a search warrant if they declined to consent.
Christmas agreed, and Thomas declined.
Christmas, whose driving privileges had been suspended in
Illinois, was transported to the Grant County Jail, where he
was searched. The ...