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State v. Nelson

Court of Appeals of Oregon

November 15, 2018

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
AUDREY DENISE NELSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and submitted January 19, 2017

          Coos County Circuit Court 14CR2518 Martin E. Stone, Judge.

          Sarah De La Cruz, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Office of Public Defense Services.

          Robert M. Wilsey, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Allen, Judge pro tempore.

         Case Summary:

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for unlawful possession of methamphetamine, ORS 475.894, assigning error to the trial court's denial of her motion to suppress. Defendant argues that an officer unlawfully stopped her when he told her that he believed she was under the influence of methamphetamine, asked her if she possessed illegal drugs, and told her it would be easy to prove him wrong by letting him look in her purse. The state responds that the interaction between defendant and the officer was a mere encounter that does not implicate Article I, section 9.

         Held:

         The trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress, because the officer illegally stopped defendant. A reasonable person in the circumstances would believe that, when the officer told defendant that it would be easy for defendant to prove his accusation of methamphetamine use wrong by letting him look in her purse, the officer was conducting a drug-possession investigation and defendant was not free to leave until the accusation was disproven.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [294 Or.App. 794] EGAN, C. J.

         Defendant appeals her conviction for unlawful possession of methamphetamine, ORS 475.894, [1] arguing that the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress. Defendant contends that the officer unlawfully stopped her when he told her that he believed that she was under the influence of methamphetamine, asked her if she possessed illegal drugs, and told her "[i]t would be easy to prove me wrong, you know, *** [b]y showing me that your purse doesn't contain drugs." We agree and, consequently, reverse and remand.

         We review a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress for legal error. State v. Rodriguez-Perez, 262 Or.App. 206, 208, 325 P.3d 39 (2014). We are bound by the trial court's findings of fact so long as there is sufficient evidence in the record to support them. State v. Ehly, 317 Or. 66, 75, 854 P.2d 421 (1993). The following facts reflect that standard of review.

         On an October night, around 9:00 p.m., Deputy Lillie was patrolling the small city of Lakeside and saw defendant walking on a sidewalk. Lillie noticed that defendant's body movements were irregular, in that she walked with "jerky * * * kind of spastic type movements." Defendant walked with a cane, but Lillie thought her movements were "something beyond" what could normally be attributed to walking ...


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