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State v. Arias-Mirenda

Supreme Court of Montana

February 12, 2019

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
JORGE CARLOS ARIAS-MIRENDA, Defendant and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: December 19, 2018

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis and Clark, Cause No. BDC 2017-9 Honorable Michael F. McMahon, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Deborah S. Smith, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Brad Fjeldheim, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Leo J. Gallagher, Lewis and Clark County Attorney, Katie Jerstad, Deputy County Attorney, Helena, Montana



         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Defendant Jose Carlos Arias-Mirenda appeals from a First Judicial District order denying his motion to suppress drugs and drug paraphernalia discovered and seized as evidence during a search, pursuant to a warrant, of the vehicle Arias-Mirenda was driving. We affirm Arias-Mirenda's conviction, but remand this case to the District Court with instructions to conform the written judgment to the oral pronouncement of sentence.

         ¶3 On December 21, 2016, at 6:50 a.m., dispatch requested Montana Highway Patrol Trooper, Nathaniel Boespflug, to assist with a situation involving two people pushing a broken-down white 1998 Ford Ranger pickup with Utah license plates on Highway 12 near East Helena, Montana. The facts pertinent to this case come from Trooper Boespflug's application for the warrant to search the vehicle.

         ¶4 Trooper Boespflug arrived on scene and saw the vehicle located in the center restricted lane. Motor Carrier Service Officer Merlyn Schatz was already present and informed Trooper Boespflug that the male driver (Arias-Mirenda) was not being forthcoming with information, the vehicle appeared to be out of gas, and the other occupant had walked away from the scene.

         ¶5 Arias-Mirenda was in the driver's seat of the vehicle. Trooper Boespflug approached the vehicle and knocked on the passenger-side window. Trooper Boespflug requested Arias-Mirenda roll down the window. Arias-Mirenda briefly looked up at Trooper Boespflug, then looked back at his phone. Trooper Boespflug attempted to open the passenger-side door, but it was locked. He walked around to the driver's side and began to ask Arias-Mirenda some questions.

         ¶6 Arias-Mirenda told Trooper Boespflug that he was twenty-three years old, that his name was Kevin Romero, and that he did not have any form of identification, including a driver's license, state identification card, or social security number. When asked his country of citizenship, Arias-Mirenda stated he was from Mexico, but had lived in the United States since he was seven months old. Trooper Boespflug told Arias-Mirenda that he should have some sort of identification after living in the United States for such a long period of time. Arias-Mirenda responded that he had a Mexican driver's license, but it was not with him. Trooper Boespflug asked Arias-Mirenda what his birth date was, to which Arias-Mirenda replied he was now going to be honest with Trooper Boespflug, that he was nervous because he had misdemeanor warrants, and that his real name was Jorge Arias, but he went by Kevin.

         ¶7 Trooper Boespflug requested Arias-Mirenda exit the vehicle and leave his cell phone and keys inside. Arias-Mirenda locked the keys in the vehicle. Trooper Boespflug noticed the vehicle's interior was in disarray. He patted Arias-Mirenda down for weapons, found none, and instructed him to sit on the tailgate while he spoke with dispatch, which informed him that Arias-Mirenda had a Montana extradition warrant for driving while suspended and obstructing a peace officer in Bozeman, Montana. Trooper Boespflug placed Arias-Mirenda under arrest.

         ¶8 The female occupant who had previously walked away from the scene returned in a vehicle driven by her younger brother. While the woman identified herself as Melissa Tucker-Alvarado and stated she had a valid driver's license, Trooper Boespflug later learned her name was Malorie Rosalie Tucker-Alvarado and that she did not have a valid driver's license. Tucker-Alvarado stated she had Christmas presents for her kids in the vehicle. When questioned, she indicated to Trooper Boespflug that she had ...

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