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State v. Sullivan

Supreme Court of Maine

March 15, 2018

STATE OF MAINE
v.
DAVID L. SULLIVAN

          Submitted On Briefs: October 24, 2017

          John W. Tebbetts, Esq., Smith & Associates, Presque Isle, for appellant

          David L. Sullivan John M. Pluto, Asst. Dist. Atty., Prosecutorial District No. 8, Caribou, for appellee State of Maine

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

          SAUFLEY, C.J.

         [¶1] David L. Sullivan appeals from a judgment of conviction for aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 1105-A(1)(I) (2017), unlawful possession of a scheduled drug (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. § 1107-A(1)(B)(3) (2017), and unlawful possession of oxycodone (Class C), 17-AM.R.S.§1107-A(1)(B)(4) (2017), entered by the court (Aroostook County, Stewart, /.) following a jury trial. Sullivan argues that the court [Soucy, J.) erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence that was found in the curtilage of his home and that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to exclude other evidence on the basis of a discovery violation. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] After conducting a hearing on Sullivan's motion to suppress, the court found the following facts, which are supported by the record viewed in the light most favorable to the court's order.[1] See State v. Kierstead, 2015 ME 45, ¶ 2, 114 A.3d 984. On March 27, 2013, a woman[2] was arrested outside of a Bangor motel after attempting to buy a large quantity of oxycontin pills. Her arrest gave rise to probable cause to search her home in Caribou, which she shared with Sullivan. Two law enforcement officers, a special agent from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and a sergeant from the Aroostook County Sheriff's Office, went to the Caribou home pending issuance of a search warrant. Their purpose in going to the home was to conduct a "security check" and thereby prevent the destruction of evidence and ensure the safety of officers arriving at the home with the anticipated warrant.

         [¶3] Sullivan's Caribou home is a mobile home with a porch on the front and an addition extending from the back. It is located down a long driveway and is surrounded by woods. When the officers arrived at the home shortly after 7:30 p.m., it was dark outside, and they observed several security cameras mounted around the house.

         [¶4] The officers knocked on the front door and announced their presence. A dog barked from inside the house, but no one answered. The officers then left the front porch and walked around the house to see if there was a rear door. As they walked around the side of the house, within a few feet of the home, the officers came upon two plastic shopping bags that were sitting on the ground. The bags were nearly translucent, and it was immediately apparent that they contained drug paraphernalia. The bags emitted a strong odor of marijuana. Because the bags sat atop fresh snow and had no footprints around them, it appeared that they had recently been thrown from a window. The officers took the bags back to their vehicle, searched the bags' contents, and discovered contraband. Eventually, the home was searched on the basis of the warrant obtained that evening.

         [¶5] A year later, on March 7, 2014, Sullivan was charged by indictment with trafficking and possession. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and moved to suppress the evidence of the two bags discovered outside of his home. After a hearing, the court [Soucy, J.) denied the motion.[3]

         [¶6] Almost three years after the indictment, the court [Stewart, /.) held a three-day jury trial in January 2017.[4] Immediately before trial, Sullivan moved to exclude the testimony of a pharmacist as a discovery sanction on the ground that the State had substituted the witness for another pharmacist the day before trial. The court denied the motion, the pharmacist testified, and Sullivan cross-examined her vigorously.

         [¶7] The jury found Sullivan guilty of all three charges. The court sentenced him to twelve years of imprisonment with all but four years suspended and three years of probation for the aggravated trafficking charge. The court also sentenced Sullivan to one year of imprisonment for each of the other charges, to be served concurrently with the sentence for aggravated trafficking. Sullivan timely appealed. See 15 M.R.S. § 2115 (2017); M.R. App. P. 2(b)(2)(A) (Tower 2016).[5]

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Denial of the ...


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