Submitted on Briefs: February 27, 2019
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
Appellant: William A. D'Alton, D'Alton Law Firm,
P.C., Billings, Montana
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Tammy K
Plubell, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
Jensen, Valley County Attorney, Glasgow, Montana
JEREMIAH SHEA JUSTICE
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.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 ...