Argued: September 8, 2016
briefs and at oral argument:
Christopher J. Coleman, Esq., Law Office of Christine M.
Smith, Presque Isle, for appellant Chad Lagasse
R. Collins, District Attorney, Prosecutorial District 8,
Caribou, for appellee State of Main
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, [*] JABAR, HJELM,
and HUMPHREY, JJ.
Chad D. Lagasse appeals from the judgment and conviction
entered in the Superior Court (Aroostook County, Hunter,
J.) following a jury verdict finding him guilty of
aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs pursuant to 17-A
M.R.S. § 1105-A(1)(B)(1) (2015). Lagasse contends that the
Superior Court erred by denying his motion to suppress. We
find no error and affirm the judgment.
When a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence
to support a finding, we review the evidence-here the
evidence at the suppression hearing-and all reasonable
inferences that may be drawn from that evidence, in the light
most favorable to the trial courts findings, to determine
whether the court rationally could have found the contested
facts at issue. See State v. Murphy, 2016 ME 5,
¶ 5, 130 A.3d 401; State v. Jones, 2012 ME 88,
¶ 7, 46 A.3d 1125.
The Superior Court made the following findings, which are
supported by the record. On or about January 3, 2013, two
masked men burst into the victims home in Caribou and
demanded money from her. At least one of the men brandished a
firearm. The victim gave them money, and the men left the
victim physically unharmed but shaken. The victim called the
Caribou Police Department to report the robbery. She reported
that she recognized one of the men as Eric Mowatt but could
not identify the other robber. Police located Mowatt within a
few hours and interviewed him. At that time, he denied any
involvement in the robbery. Based on the victims report,
police arrested Mowatt and transported him to the Aroostook
Several days later, Mowatt contacted the police from the
jail. He admitted his involvement in the robbery and
identified Lagasse as his accomplice. He stated that the
purpose of the robbery was to obtain money to satisfy
Lagasses drug debt. The police continued their investigation
but were unable to locate Lagasse.
On January 19, 2013, Mowatt, who had been released on bail,
contacted the police to tell them that Lagasse was at a store
in Fort Fairfield in a silver Mazda Protégé
with a special license plate called a "transport
plate." Mowatt provided the license plate number. The
lead investigator emailed the officers of the Caribou Police
Department to alert them to Lagasses presence in the area. He
provided a description of the car and instructed officers to
arrest Lagasse if they found him. The lead investigator also
instructed officers to find a reasonable basis to stop the
car and to use caution when interacting with Lagasse. No
warrant for Lagasses arrest was sought.
The following day, a Caribou police officer located a car
matching the description provided by Mowatt but could not
determine anything about its occupants. The officer was
following the car closely enough to read the transport plate
when the car suddenly "veered sharply to the right"
and changed lanes without signaling. The officer executed a
"high risk felony stop" by radioing for assistance,
drawing his weapon, and verbally commanding the driver to get
out of the car and place his hands on the vehicles roof. When
the driver complied, the officer immediately recognized
Lagasse and arrested him.
Lagasse was indicted on charges of robbery (Class A),
17-AM.R.S. §651(1)(E) (2015), theft by unauthorized
taking or transfer (Class C), 17-AM.R.S. § 353(1)(B)(4)
(2015), illegal possession of a firearm (Class C), 15M.R.S.
§ 393(1)(A-1) (2015), and aggravated trafficking of
scheduled drugs (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 1105-A(1)(B)(1)
(2015). The indictment also included a claim for criminal
forfeiture of property, 15 M.R.S. § 5826 (2015). The