Submitted on March 27, 2013
Yamhill County Circuit Court CR100648 John L. Collins, Judge.
Peter Gartlan, Chief Defender, and Kyle Krohn, Deputy Public Defender, Office of Public Defense Services, filed the brief for appellant.
Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General, and David B. Thompson, Senior Assistant Attorney General, filed the brief for respondent.
Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Sercombe, Judge, and Hadlock, Judge.
Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for one count of unlawful possession of MDMA,  ORS 475.874, and assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence. Defendant was in the backseat of a police patrol car during the time that deputies searched--at his mother's invitation--the house where defendant and his mother lived. Defendant contends that, had he not been unlawfully seized by that confinement, he would have objected to, and inhibited, the entry and search of the house by the deputies. That search led to the evidence sought to be suppressed. We conclude that defendant failed to establish the existence of a causal connection--a minimal factual nexus--between the alleged unlawful seizure and the obtaining of the challenged evidence. For that reason, we affirm.
We review the trial court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress for errors of law, and we are bound by the trial court's findings of fact if there is constitutionally sufficient evidence in the record to support those findings. State v. Ehly, 317 Or 66, 75, 854 P.2d 421 (1993). We draw the facts, then, from the undisputed findings set out in the trial court's letter opinion and from the uncontested evidence presented at the hearing.
The Yamhill County Sheriff's Office received a call regarding a domestic disturbance between a mother and her son; the son, defendant, had left their residence on foot. Deputy Elder was dispatched. On her way to the house, Elder observed defendant walking down the road. She stopped and asked him what had happened. Defendant responded that his mother was angry because she had returned from out of town and found that defendant had broken things in the house. Defendant said that he had argued with his mother and then left. He further explained that a friend had agreed to pick him up, but the friend had driven by without stopping while defendant was talking to Elder, who was in uniform.
Defendant told Elder that he wanted to call his friend, but that he did not have a telephone or the friend's phone number; the number was on his mother's mobile phone, which was at the house. Elder, who was going to the house to check on defendant's mother, offered to give defendant a ride to the house to retrieve the phone number. Defendant accepted the offer, got into the backseat of the patrol car, and directed Elder to the house. By that point, another deputy, Stackpole, had joined Elder as a "backup" and followed her in his patrol car.
When they arrived at the house, defendant asked to stay in the patrol car because he did not want to be in the presence of his mother. Elder gave defendant permission to remain in the car, and she closed the rear door, which could not be opened from the inside.
When the deputies went to the door of the house, defendant's mother answered and invited the deputies inside. She immediately showed them how her house had been "trashed" when she was out of town. As the deputies went from room to room, they observed drug paraphernalia and other evidence of drug use, as well as damage to the property in the house. They specifically observed a baggie containing what appeared to be methamphetamine.
About 40 to 45 minutes after she had left defendant, Elder returned to the patrol car. Elder opened the rear door and gave defendant a Miranda warning, which defendant acknowledged that he understood. Elder told defendant that she and Stackpole had found drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine in the house. Before any questions were asked of him, defendant immediately responded that he did not have any methamphetamine in the house but only had other drugs. Elder then asked if defendant would show him where those drugs were, and defendant said that he would. Defendant took the deputies through the house, pointing out where his drugs were located and where he had conducted drug activity.
Elder then took defendant back to the patrol car, told him that he was under arrest, and handcuffed him. As Elder was driving defendant to jail, defendant stated, without any questioning from Elder, that he was glad that the deputies had found only a small ...