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Browder v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 22, 2017

Tyler R. Browder Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Linda E. Brown, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G10-1412-CM-53390

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Megan Shipley Marion County Public Defender Agency Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Justin F. Roebel Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Mathias, Judge.

         [¶1] Tyler Browder ("Browder") appeals his conviction for Class A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. Browder argues that the Marion Superior Court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence the paraphernalia discovered when a police officer searched his vehicle during a traffic stop. Browder specifically claims that the police officer unreasonably extended the length of the traffic stop in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article One, Section Eleven of the Indiana Constitution.[1]

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] On November 11, 2014, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Brady Ball ("Officer Ball" "Ball, " or "the officer") was working "pro-active patrol" on the south side of Indianapolis in a high crime area. Tr. p. 5. Officer Ball was tasked with traffic enforcement in the area.

         [¶4] At approximately 11:40 p.m., Officer Ball came to a stop at a traffic light and ran the license plate of the Pontiac vehicle stopped in front of him. The license plate was registered to a silver Audi. Therefore, Ball initiated a traffic stop to investigate the improperly plated vehicle.

         [¶5] Browder, the driver and only occupant of the vehicle, pulled the car over into a nearby gas station parking lot. Officer Ball asked Browder about the license plate and Browder replied that

it was he and his [wife's] vehicle that they had purchased it and that they, um, were under the impression that a license plate -a transfer plate could be placed on the vehicle.

Tr. p. 6. Ball told Browder that he was correct but that "they needed to have a bill of sale or title to go along with that transfer plate." Id. Browder, who stated that he had purchased the car for approximately one week prior, was not able to produce any paperwork for the vehicle.

         [¶6] Ball requested Browder's driver's license and ran it through his computer. From the information returned, the officer discovered that Browder had a criminal history, including a reference to an auto theft. The officer also could not find a registration for the Pontiac under Browder's name. In addition, Browder's name was not listed on the registration for the license plate registered to the silver Audi. Ball was in his patrol car for several minutes running computer checks to obtain this information.

         [¶7] Approximately fifteen minutes after the stop was initiated, and after Officer Ball reviewed Browder's driver's license records and criminal history and could not find a Pontiac registered to Browder, Ball was still suspicious that the Pontiac was possibly a stolen vehicle, and he decided to investigate further. He asked Browder to step out of the vehicle and about his prior arrest record. When Ball asked about the auto theft, Browder replied that he was arrested as a juvenile but had not been arrested for a stealing a car.

         [¶8] The officer continued to question Browder about paperwork related to the sale of the vehicle and its previous owner. Browder stated that the license plate on the Pontiac belonged to him and to his wife, Kayla Lanahan. When asked about the different last names, Browder explained that they were married but that his wife had not changed her last name. Browder told Officer Ball that there was no paperwork from the prior owner in the vehicle. The officer asked for specific details about the recent purchase of the vehicle. Browder stated that the car was a 1992 or 1996 Pontiac model that they purchased for $700. Browder told the officer that he had been driving to Taco Bell, and the officer questioned Browder about his choice of a circuitous route to the restaurant.

         [¶9] Finally, approximately seventeen minutes into the stop, Officer Ball asked Browder if anything illegal was inside the vehicle. Browder said there was not and told the officer he could search the vehicle. Tr. p. 19. Browder's statement surprised Officer Ball, and he gave Browder a Pirtle warning.[2] Tr. p. 13. Officer Ball also told Browder that when individuals allow officers to search "illegal stuff" can be found. Id. Browder replied that he had "nothing to hide." Id. After the advisements and warnings, Browder continued to consent to the vehicle search.

         [¶10] As he searched the vehicle, Officer Ball found the vehicle's VIN number and discovered it was a 2001 Pontiac. The officer also found a glass pipe used to smoke marijuana in an insert in the center console, which later tested positive for THC residue. The officer then arrested Browder and read him his Miranda rights. Browder told Officer Ball that the pipe was not his and that a friend must have left it in the vehicle.

         [¶11] A bench trial was held on March 7 and July 20, 2016. Browder filed a motion to suppress the pipe found in the vehicle. The trial court denied the motion and found Browder guilty of Class A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. He was then ordered to serve 365 days, with 349 days suspended to probation and 16 days credit for time served. The State declined to prosecute the ...

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