from the Grant Superior Court, No. 27D01-1404-FA-5 The
Honorable Jeffrey D. Todd, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
Attorney for Appellant William T. Myers Grant County Public
Defender Marion, Indiana.
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Larry D. Allen Deputy Attorney General
Thomas was found guilty of Class A felony dealing in a
narcotic drug, and now appeals his conviction under the
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. For the
reasons discussed herein, we find Thomas's arrest was
lawful and the evidence recovered was admissible.
Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's conviction.
and Procedural History
case arose from an arrest for dealing in narcotic drugs. On
April 7, 2014, the Joint Effort Against Narcotics
("JEAN") Team Drug Task Force, which included
officers from the City of Marion Police Department and the
Grant County Sheriff's Office, received a tip from a
credible confidential informant that two men from Chicago
were travelling to Grant County to sell drugs. The informant
told JEAN officers that the two men were driving a white
minivan with a temporary Illinois license plate, and could be
found at the Comfort Suites in Marion, Indiana.
receiving this information, Detective Mark Stefanatos
("Detective Stefanatos") began surveillance of a
Dodge Caravan that fit the confidential informant's
description. While there, he observed two men, later
identified as Will Thomas and Byron Christmas, enter the
vehicle and drive away.
Stefanatos followed the van and observed it illegally change
lanes without properly signaling. Detective Stefanatos then
called for a uniformed police officer, Joseph Martin
("Officer Martin"), to initiate a traffic stop. He
also called for a canine unit on the scene, which arrived
within a minute or two.
Martin initiated the stop and approached the vehicle with
Detective Stefanatos. Officer Martin walked to the
driver's side of the vehicle and spoke with Christmas
while Detective Stefanatos spoke with Thomas, who was sitting
in the front passenger seat. The officers tried to verify
each man's identity and their reason for travelling
through Marion, Indiana. Both Thomas and Christmas told
officers that they were visiting family, but neither man
could identify where in Indiana their respective family
members lived. Furthermore, the driver, Christmas, was unable
to present officers with any form of identification and
claimed he left his driver's license in Chicago.
to the traffic stop, officers ran a certified narcotics
canine around the vehicle with the occupants still inside.
The officers first brought the canine to the vehicle's
rear bumper and had it sniff along the driver's side.
When the canine reached the driver's door, it alerted
officers to the presence of narcotics. Officers removed
Thomas and Christmas from the vehicle and conducted a
pat-down search for officer safety. No drugs or weapons were
found in the course of the pat-down.
then gave officers permission to search the vehicle. The
canine was brought into the vehicle's interior, but it no
longer detected the presence of narcotics. No narcotics or
contraband were found in a subsequent search of the
vehicle's interior. Officers did not bring the narcotics
detection canine around the suspects because the canine was
also trained as an apprehension dog. Bringing the dog around
the suspects ran the risk of causing them injury if either of
the suspects turned out to possess contraband.
and Thomas were each asked whether they would consent to a
strip search at the police station. Christmas agreed and was
transported to the county jail where no drugs were found on
his person. Officers did, however, find Christmas had $750 in
cash. Thomas, on the other hand, declined the search. Given
Thomas's refusal to consent, officers applied for a
search warrant. In the meantime, they transported Thomas to
the Marion Police Station where he would await the results of
the search warrant request. Officers said they transported
Thomas because they preferred to conduct the ...