State v. Baesler - No. 20120295 & 20120296
Lowell Baesler appeals a district court order denying his motion to suppress drug evidence discovered during a vehicle search.
A deputy sheriff on routine patrol encountered Baesler sleeping in a parked vehicle on a highway approach at approximately 1 a.m. The deputy noticed an open beer bottle in the center console, a small "torch" on Baesler's lap, and "some baggies tucked in the dash." The deputy radioed for assistance and began conducting field sobriety tests. A K-9 deputy arrived, and his drug detection dog alerted to the presence of drugs in Baesler's car. Baesler passed the field sobriety tests, but received a citation for open container. During a sobriety test, the deputy noticed Baesler's tongue was green, possibly indicating drug ingestion. The deputies arrested Baesler after a search of his vehicle and jacket uncovered a container of white power residue and drug paraphernalia.
The State charged Baesler with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of methamphetamine, but later dismissed the methamphetamine charge and added a possession of marijuana charge. Baesler moved to suppress the evidence asserting there was no probable cause to search his vehicle once the initial reason for the stop, suspicion of driving under the influence, ended. The district court denied Baesler's motion.
On appeal, Baesler argues the district court committed reversible error when it denied his motion to suppress because the purpose of the initial stop was complete by the time the K-9 unit arrived, and he should have been released. In contrast, the State argues the initial stop was not complete when the K-9 unit arrived, and the dog's detection of drugs, in conjunction with the torch and baggies in the car and Baesler's green tongue, gave the officers authority to search.