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State v. Brown

Court of Appeals of Oregon

August 7, 2019

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
LUCAS CRAIG BROWN, Defendant-Respondent.

          Argued and submitted May 31, 2019

          Washington County Circuit Court 17CR56148; Janelle F. Wipper, Judge.

          Patrick M. Ebbett, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Rond Chananudech, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Tookey, Judge, and Shorr, Judge.

         Case Summary: The state appeals from an order granting defendant's motion to suppress evidence. The suppressed evidence was obtained by a sheriff's deputy after the deputy stopped defendant. On appeal, the state contends that the trial court erred when it concluded that, at the time of the stop, the deputy lacked reasonable suspicion that defendant had committed a crime. Held: The trial court erred. The deputy's suspicion that defendant had committed the crime of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle was objectively reasonable under the totality of the circumstances existing at the time of the stop.

         [298 Or.App. 772] TOOKEY, J.

         The state appeals from a trial court order suppressing evidence acquired by a sheriffs deputy after the deputy stopped defendant. On appeal, the state contends that the trial court erred when it concluded that the deputy lacked reasonable suspicion that defendant had committed a crime. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "We review a trial court's [ruling on] a motion to suppress for legal error." State v. Fuller, 296 Or.App. 425, 426, 438 P.3d 431 (2019) (citing State v. Maciel-Figueroa, 361 Or. 163, 165, 389 P.3d 1121 (2017)). "We are bound by the court's factual findings if there is constitutionally sufficient evidence in the record to support them." Id. "If the court did not enter express findings and there is 'evidence from which the trial court could have found a fact in more than one way, we will presume that the trial court decided the facts consistently' with its ultimate legal conclusion." Id. (quoting Maciel-Figueroa, 361 Or at 166).

         II. HISTORICAL AND PROCEDURAL FACTS

         At 12:48 a.m., Deputy Waterbury responded to a report from dispatch. A named caller had reported a car prowl near a house on Southwest Alexander Street in Aloha, Oregon. Waterbury learned from the dispatcher that a caller had seen a man in her vehicle "going through things." The caller described the suspect as a "white male in [his] 30s with long brown hair, and a beard." The caller also reported that the suspect was wearing a red hat and shorts. Dispatch advised Waterbury that the caller had seen the suspect walk away from her car and toward a vehicle, and that the vehicle then "took off."

         Three minutes later, at 12:51 a.m., as Waterbury drove toward the location of the car prowl, he saw defendant just around the corner from the caller's address. Defendant was approximately a block away from the location of the car prowl and was the only person Waterbury saw on the street at that time. Waterbury pulled over, turned off his headlights, and walked over to defendant, who was smoking a [298 Or.App. 773] cigarette next to a parked car. Waterbury testified that he believed that defendant matched the caller's description of the car prowler: "He was white, approximately 30s, beard, and long brown hair." Waterbury did not recall whether defendant was wearing a hat at the time of the stop and did not testify regarding whether defendant was wearing shorts.

         After approaching defendant, Waterbury identified himself and asked defendant "what he was doing there." Defendant responded that he was "just relaxing, having a smoke." After further conversation, Waterbury asked defendant for his identification. After defendant gave the identification to Waterbury, defendant asked Waterbury what "this was all about," and Waterbury told defendant that he matched the description of a suspect who had broken into a car.

         After some additional conversation between defendant and Waterbury, defendant said "he wanted to be honest," and told Waterbury that he "went into someone's car" that night. Subsequently, defendant was arrested and charged with, among other offenses, one ...


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