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State v. Martin

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

July 23, 2015

STATE OF MAINE
v.
ERIC M. MARTIN

Argued June 18, 2015.

On the briefs: Todd R. Collins, District Attorney, 8th Prosecutorial District, Caribou, for appellant State of Maine.

James M. Dunleavy, Esq., and Jon P. Plourde, Esq., Currier and Trask, P.A., Presque Isle, for appellee Eric M. Martin.

At oral argument: Todd R. Collins, District Attorney, for appellant State of Maine.

James M. Dunleavy, Esq., for appellee Eric M. Martin.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

OPINION

Page 114

MEAD, J.

[¶1] The State of Maine appeals from an order entered by the trial court ( Hunter, J. ) granting Eric M. Martin's motion to suppress as evidence illegal drugs seized from him by law enforcement officers after they stopped a vehicle in which he was a passenger. The court found that the warrantless search of clothes that Martin was wearing violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 5 of the Maine Constitution. The State asserts that the search was (1) justified by probable cause and the existence of exigent circumstances, (2) incident to a lawful arrest, and (3) subject to the application of the inevitable discovery exception to the exclusionary rule. Because we agree that the search was justified by probable cause and that it was conducted under exigent circumstances, we vacate the suppression order.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] The State does not challenge the trial court's factual findings, which are supported by the record. See State v. Babb, 2014 ME 129, ¶ 9, 104 A.3d 878 (stating that a suppression court's findings of fact are reviewed for clear error). In July 2013, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) Special Agent Peter Johnson began investigating the importation of heroin and prescription pills into Maine from Detroit, Michigan. A confidential informant (CI) who had previously provided information to MDEA set up a delivery of

Page 115

several hundred oxycodone pills with the CI's source, a man calling himself " Al." The CI reported that Al had been coming to Maine monthly, sometimes armed; had stayed with the CI on occasion; and had sold the CI heroin and pills. Al provided the CI with the cell phone number of " one of his boys" who he would be using as the deliveryman for the transaction; the number belonged to Ricci Wafford, who had at least two convictions for drug possession and who had been charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Johnson obtained a warrant allowing him to track the location of Wafford's cell phone.

[¶3] On August 2, the CI received a call telling him that the drugs were on their way; once Wafford was in Maine, officers were able to follow the cell phone north on Interstate 95. At one point the CI received another call and was told that " they" had stopped at a convenience store to buy cigars and that " they were on their way up," giving agents their first indication that Wafford might not be alone. When Special Agent Craig Holder began following Wafford's car in Aroostook County, about twelve minutes before Wafford was stopped, he saw two people in the vehicle. Just before the stop, the CI received ...


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