Submitted on Briefs: February 14, 2018
District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and
For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DC 15-01 Honorable
Jeffrey H. Langton, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Moses Okeyo.
Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Ryan
Aikin, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
William E. Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney, Hamilton,
A Ravalli County jury convicted Patrick Terry Flowers of
criminal possession of methamphetamine, criminal possession
of marijuana, and two counts of criminal possession of drug
paraphernalia after law enforcement found drugs and
paraphernalia in his pickup truck during a traffic stop.
Leslie Hill was the lone passenger in the vehicle at the time
of the traffic stop. Flowers appeals his convictions,
alleging that the District Court committed reversible error
when it excluded evidence of Hill's plea agreement and
curtailed his cross-examination of Hill. Flowers also claims
his attorney was ineffective because he failed to request a
jury instruction on accomplice testimony. We agree with
Flowers that he was improperly denied the opportunity to
impeach Hill. We therefore remand the case for a new trial.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
During routine patrol near Stevensville, Montana, in December
2014, Deputy Jason Jones of the Ravalli County Sheriff's
Office stopped a pickup that had an expired registration.
Flowers was driving the vehicle and Hill sat in the front
passenger seat. Deputy Jones asked for Flowers's
driver's license and other documentation. After checking
for active warrants for both Flowers and Hill, Deputy Jones
informed Flowers that he was issuing him a warning for the
expired tags. He asked Flowers to exit his pickup to show him
the expired registration tags on the vehicle.
Once Flowers exited the vehicle, Deputy Jones returned
Flowers's driver's license and documentation and told
Flowers that he was free to go, but asked for consent to
search the vehicle. Flowers consented and signed a consent
form. Hill remained alone in the cab of the pickup during
this interaction, but eventually got out and stood by a law
enforcement vehicle during the search. Trooper Rocky Bailey
and Sergeant Jesse Jessop were present for backup during the
search. Before the search began, Flowers asked to get a
sweatshirt from the back seat of the pickup. As Flowers
retrieved the sweatshirt, a glass pipe fell out of the pickup
cab onto the ground.
Deputy Jones recognized the pipe as the type of pipe used to
smoke methamphetamine and placed Flowers under arrest.
Laboratory tests later confirmed that the pipe had
methamphetamine residue on it. After giving Flowers a
Miranda warning, Deputy Jones asked Flowers who
owned the pipe. Flowers replied that he did not know. When
Deputy Jones asked whether the pipe belonged to Hill, Flowers
stated that he did not think so.
While searching the truck, Deputy Jones found a plastic box
containing a marijuana pipe and a bag with 6.65 grams of
marijuana under the driver's seat. He also found a
plastic container containing marijuana residue in the
backseat. Hill consented to Deputy Jones's request to
search her purse. Inside, he found a small glass vial with a
white powdery substance in it, which laboratory tests later
confirmed as methamphetamine.
Deputy Jones, Trooper Bailey, and Sergeant Jessop all
testified that Flowers did not appear to be intoxicated
during the stop, but that Hill appeared to be under the
influence of methamphetamine or another drug because she was
twitching and had jerky movements. Both Flowers and Hill were
charged with criminal possession of methamphetamine, criminal
possession of marijuana, and two counts of criminal
possession of drug paraphernalia.
At the time of the December 2014 traffic stop, Hill already
was facing serious drug charges from an incident in August
2014, including two charges of criminal possession of
dangerous drugs with intent to distribute and criminal
possession of drug paraphernalia. Hill's charges from the
two incidents, along with the persistent felony offender
("PFO") status the State sought, carried a combined
maximum penalty of 147 years of incarceration. Before
Flowers's trial, Hill reached a plea agreement with the
State to resolve all of her pending charges. The State agreed
to amend her August 2014 charges to two charges of criminal
possession of dangerous drugs and to dismiss the notice of
intent to seek PFO status. Hill pleaded guilty to the two
amended charges and to all the charges arising from the
December 2014 traffic stop with Flowers. The State agreed to
recommend that the court sentence Hill to five years for the
August charges and an additional two years ...