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State v. Robertson

Supreme Court of Montana

April 30, 2019

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
TYRELL J ROBERTSON, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 27, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Seventeenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Valley, Cause No. DC 2017-08 Honorable Yvonne Laird, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: William A. D'Alton, D'Alton Law Firm, P.C., Billings, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Tammy K Plubell, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Dylan Jensen, Valley County Attorney, Glasgow, Montana

          OPINION

          JAMES JEREMIAH SHEA JUSTICE

         ¶1 Appellant Tyrell J. Robertson appeals the Judgment of the Seventeenth Judicial District Court, Valley County, finding Robertson guilty of: (1) criminal possession of dangerous drugs, a misdemeanor, in violation of § 45-9-102, MCA; (2) criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor, in violation of § 45-10-103, MCA; and (3) driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), a misdemeanor, in violation of § 61-8-401, MCA. We address the following issues on appeal:

Issue One: Whether the District Court erred when it denied Robertson's Motion in Limine to prevent the arresting officer from testifying at trial.
Issue Two: Whether the District Court erred when it denied Robertson's Motion to Suppress evidence seized from his vehicle because no probable cause existed for the issuance of the search warrant.
Issue Three: Whether the District Court erred when it denied Robertson's Motion to Dismiss the DUI charge due to the State's failure to preserve video evidence.

         ¶2 We affirm.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 On the evening of February 15, 2017, Valley County Sheriff's Deputy Alex Esteves was on patrol in Glasgow when he observed Robertson driving a truck away from a local bar at night. Esteves observed Robertson fail to signal a right-hand turn and then later fishtail into the other lane of traffic. Esteves followed Robertson onto U.S. Highway 2, activated his emergency lights, and initiated a traffic stop.

         ¶4 As Esteves approached the driver's side window, he smelled a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the truck. Esteves identified himself to Robertson, explained the reason for the stop, and requested that Robertson hand him any marijuana that was in the truck. Robertson pulled a white prescription-style pill bottle filled with marijuana from the truck's center console and handed it to Esteves. Esteves then asked if there was any drug paraphernalia in the truck. One of Robertson's passengers handed Esteves a glass pipe packed with marijuana.

         ¶5 Based upon his observations of Robertson's driving, Esteves suspected Robertson of DUI. Robertson informed Esteves that he and his passengers had just left the bar and admitted that he had consumed an alcoholic beverage while there. Esteves requested Robertson submit to standardized field sobriety tests, which Robertson agreed to. Based on Esteves's observations, Robertson exhibited multiple indicators of impairment during his performance of the tests. Esteves then administered a preliminary breath test. The test indicated Robertson's blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.114-exceeding the legal limit of 0.08. Esteves arrested Robertson for DUI and informed him that his truck would be seized and a search warrant would be obtained.

         ¶6 At the Valley County Detention Center (Detention Center), Esteves processed Robertson for a DUI. Since the Intoxilyzer at the Detention Center was under maintenance, Esteves asked Robertson to submit to a blood draw, which Robertson declined. Esteves then applied and received a warrant for the blood draw. A blood sample from Robertson was obtained and sent to the State Crime Lab. Analysis of Robertson's blood sample reflected a BAC of 0.112.

         ¶7 On February 17, 2017, Esteves applied for, and received, a search warrant for Robertson's truck. The search revealed that Robertson's truck contained various marijuana products and paraphernalia, all of which were seized. Robertson's truck ultimately held a total of 111.2 grams of marijuana and marijuana-infused products.

         ¶8 On March 29, 2017, Robertson was charged by Information with felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs, use or possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture, misdemeanor criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, and misdemeanor DUI.[1]

         ¶9 On July 3, 2017, Robertson filed a Motion to Suppress and Dismiss. Robertson argued that the evidence seized from his truck should be suppressed because Esteves's search warrant application did not establish probable cause warranting the search. Robertson additionally argued that the DUI charge should be dismissed because the State failed to produce the Detention Center video of his arrest. On September 11, 2017, Robertson filed a Motion in Limine. Robertson argued that Esteves should be prohibited from ...


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