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Peele v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

August 15, 2019

Jarvis Peele, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Clark Circuit Court The Honorable Bradley B. Jacobs, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 10C02-1703-F6-621

          Attorney for Appellant Christopher Sturgeon Clark County Public Defender's Office Jeffersonville, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Evan Matthew Comer Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          BAILEY, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Jarvis Peele ("Peele") appeals his convictions for Possession of Methamphetamine, as a Level 6 felony, [1] Possession of Marijuana, as a Class B misdemeanor, [2] and Possession of a Controlled Substance, as a Class A misdemeanor.[3] He presents the sole issue of whether the trial court erred by admitting evidence from a search that exceeded the proper scope of a Terry search.[4] We reverse.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On March 30, 2017, Jeffersonville Police Officers Levi James ("Officer James") and Matthew Bauer ("Officer Bauer") stopped a vehicle for failure to signal a turn. Officer Bauer interacted with the driver and eventually placed him under arrest on an open warrant. Officer James interacted with Peele, the front seat passenger.

         [¶3] According to Officer James, Peele's behavior led to the belief that Peele was "possibly armed." (Tr. Vol. I, pg. 72.) That is:

[I] observed several indictors, criminal indicators, that aren't consistent with the innocent motoring public, specifically his carotid artery in his throat was throbbing, he avoid[ed] eye contact with me as he spoke, he rubbed his palms on his sweatpants multiple times, making furtive hand movements, patting his jacket and pants pockets. And then he began to reach in the area of the center front armrest retrieving metal tools, a pair of pliers, a ratchet, from an area that I couldn't see and placed them on his lap. He then raised his entire body and turned and looked in that area, the area of the center armrest, and underneath his person. And these behaviors aren't consistent with the innocent motoring public through my training and experience.

Id. at 57. Based upon these observations, Officer James asked Peele to exit the vehicle and submit to a patdown search for officer safety. During the patdown, Officer James felt "a large object in the front of [Peele]'s waistband that wasn't consistent with the human anatomy" and Officer James "believed it to immediately be or immediately be apparent that it was contraband." Id. at 58. Officer James began to move Peele, in handcuffs, to the trunk of the vehicle. Officer Bauer notified Officer James that a sock had rolled out of Peele's right pant leg.

         [¶4] Officer James retrieved the potato-shaped sock and searched its contents. The sock contained several baggies, the contents of which were later tested and identified as methamphetamine and marijuana, and several pills, some of which were later tested and identified as buprenorphine.

         [¶5] Peele was charged with possession of methamphetamine, marijuana, and a controlled substance, and was granted leave to represent himself. Peele moved to suppress the physical evidence gained in the traffic stop, and the trial court conducted a suppression hearing on December 17, 2018. After hearing the officers' testimony, the trial court denied Peele's motion to suppress, reasoning that "the sock fell out, it was not removed by [the officers] so that search wasn't a search." Id. at 97. Peele asked that the order be certified for interlocutory appeal, and the trial court declined to do so, saying "I'm not going to give you the Interlocutory today. The case will be over by Wednesday." Id. at 100.

         [¶6] Peele was tried before a jury on December 18 and 19, 2018. He was convicted of each charged offense, and found to be a habitual offender. On January 10, 2019, Peele was sentenced to two years imprisonment for Possession of Methamphetamine, enhanced by four years due to his status as a habitual offender. He received concurrent sentences of 180 days for Possession of Marijuana and one year for Possession of a Controlled Substance. He now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         Standard ...


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