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State v. Richardson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

February 6, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
SHAWN R. RICHARDSON

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 17-6008, DIVISION "L" HONORABLE DONALD A. ROWAN, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D. Connick, Jr., Terry M. Boudreaux, Thomas J. Butler, Lynn Schiffman

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, SHAWN R. RICHARDSON Bertha M. Hillman

          Panel composed of Judges Stephen J. Windhorst, Hans J. Liljeberg, and John J. Molaison, Jr.

          HANS J. LILJEBERG, JUDGE

         Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence for attempted possession of cocaine, arguing that his motion to suppress evidence should have been granted. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On September 22, 2017, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney filed a bill of information charging defendant, Shawn R. Richardson, with possession of cocaine in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(C). Defendant was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. On January 29, 2018, the trial court held a hearing on defendant's motion to suppress evidence, and the motion was denied.

         On March 13, 2018, the matter proceeded to trial, and a jury found defendant guilty of the responsive verdict of attempted possession of cocaine. On March 16, 2018, the trial court sentenced defendant to one year at hard labor, to run consecutively to any time defendant was presently serving. Defendant appeals.

         FACTS

         On the night of August 7, 2017, Detective Nathaniel Obiol with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Narcotics Section observed a silver Chevy Malibu traveling on Veterans Boulevard near Lafreniere Park fail to signal as it changed lanes. At the time, Detective Obiol was alone in his unmarked unit but was working in tandem with four or five other narcotics officers, including his supervisor, Sergeant Joshua Collins. Officers conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle, and the driver pulled into a nearby parking lot in the 2600 block of Veterans Boulevard. Detective Obiol and several other unmarked police units equipped with police lights approached the vehicle when it pulled over.

         Detective Obiol asked the driver, defendant, to step out. Detective Obiol immediately advised defendant of his Miranda[1] rights and the reason for the traffic stop, and defendant indicated that he understood his rights. During the traffic stop, Detective Obiol asked defendant if there was any contraband, such as narcotics or weapons, inside the vehicle or on his person. Detective Obiol testified that defendant was "adamant" there was nothing illegal in the vehicle or on his person, and defendant told the officers they could search him and his car. Sergeant Collins, who was present when defendant exited the vehicle, similarly recalled that defendant provided consent to search his person and vehicle.

         In response to defendant's consent to search, Detective Obiol removed a stocking cap from defendant's head, and he and Sergeant Collins observed a plastic bag containing a rock of crack cocaine stuck to the side of defendant's head.[2]Detective Obiol seized the item as evidence, and defendant was arrested.

         LAW AND DISCUSSION

         In his sole assignment of error, defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence. [3] He asserts that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when officers conducted a search of his person and seized evidence following a traffic infraction. He argues that his detention was unlawful and the purpose of the stop ...


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