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Deweese v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

September 4, 2009

Richard DEWEESE, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, Appellee.

Margi Mock, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

Timothy W. Terrell, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Talis J. Colberg, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before : COATS, Chief Judge, and MANNHEIMER and BOLGER, Judges.

OPINION

BOLGER, Judge.

Richard Deweese entered a plea of no contest to fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and reserved his right to appeal the superior court's decision denying his motion to suppress the evidence against him. This evidence was obtained after a traffic stop where Deweese's vehicle was subjected to a canine sniff. We conclude that the plea agreement improperly restricted the evidence that we may consider on appeal. We therefore dismiss the appeal and remand the case to the superior court for further proceedings.

Background

On April 25, 2006, Alaska State Trooper Andrew Ballesteros clocked Richard Deweese driving forty-seven miles per hour in a forty mile-per-hour zone while Deweese was traveling westward on Bradway Road in North Pole. Accordingly, Trooper Ballesteros activated his emergency lights to conduct a traffic stop.

Deweese initially turned left onto Dennis Road and pulled into the parking lot of a fire station. But rather than coming to a complete stop, he continued to travel south on Dennis Road toward the Old Richardson Highway. As Deweese drove from the parking lot back onto Dennis Road, Trooper Ballesteros could see Deweese taking both of his hands off the steering wheel and reaching toward the vehicle's center console. While Deweese was reaching for the console, his vehicle swerved in and out of the roadway and onto the shoulder of the road. Deweese

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finally stopped his vehicle near the railroad tracks Before the Old Richardson intersection.

After Deweese pulled over, Trooper Ballesteros asked Deweese to step out of his vehicle and then performed a patdown search. Deweese did not have his driver's license, but identified himself as Richard Deweese. Ballesteros recognized Deweese's name from anonymous tips alleging that Deweese was involved with methamphetamine distribution. When asked about the delay in pulling over his vehicle and his movements toward the center console, Deweese replied that he was looking for his wallet and driver's license.

Deweese also denied having any weapons, drugs, or paraphernalia in his vehicle. Ballesteros asked what Deweese had in his pockets, and Deweese responded that he had his keys and some money. Deweese consented to Ballesteros's request to see this money, which amounted to $1,030, comprised of four $100 bills, three $50 bills, and twenty-four $20 bills. But Deweese refused to give his consent for Ballestero to search the vehicle; Ballesteros thus called for another trooper with a police dog to perform a canine sniff of the vehicle.

Approximately fourteen minutes after Deweese was initially stopped, Trooper Aaron Mobley arrived with a police dog. Trooper Mobley walked the dog around Deweese's vehicle and informed Ballesteros that the dog had been alerted to something inside. Ballesteros then decided to impound Deweese's vehicle and apply for a warrant to search inside.

When Ballesteros executed the warrant, he found a black magnetized container with two small baggies of methamphetamine in the center console. Deweese was thereafter indicted for one count of ...


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