Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court
Appeal from the Superior Court in Yavapai County No. V1300CR201180071 The Honorable Jennifer B. Campbell, Judge
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Joseph T. Maziarz Michael T. O'Toole Counsel for Appellee
William D. Shostak, Esq., Counsel for Appellant
Judge Samuel A. Thumma delivered the decision of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Randall M. Howe and Judge Patricia A. Orozco joined.
¶1 Tana Nichole Elliot appeals her convictions and sentences for transportation of dangerous drugs for sale, use of electronic communication to facilitate a felony and possession of drug paraphernalia. Elliot argues her convictions are the result of incriminating items found during an unconstitutional warrantless vehicle search that should have been suppressed. Because the superior court did not err in denying Elliot's motion to suppress, her convictions and sentences are affirmed.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2 In February 2011, Yavapai County Sherriffs Deputies Franklin, Stambaugh and Brazell were sent to investigate a possible burglary in progress at a home reported to be in foreclosure. Upon arrival, the deputies saw three people later identified as Elliot, C.G. and S.Q. C.G. and S.Q. were loading items into a sport utility vehicle (SUV) owned by C.G, and Elliot was sitting in the passenger's seat. The deputies ordered Elliot, C.G. and S.Q. away from the vehicle; C.G. and S.Q. complied immediately while Elliot appeared to be maneuvering something in the car for several seconds before complying. The deputies then handcuffed and secured Elliot, C.G. and S.Q. separately in the back of three police cars and performed a protective sweep of the house.
¶3 During the protective sweep, Deputy Stambaugh located a glass methamphetamine pipe inside a bedroom closet. S.Q. told the deputies that she was renting the house but that the SUV belonged to C.G. and the contents of the SUV belonged to C.G. and Elliot. Deputy Franklin then left, verified with the owner of the house that S.Q. had a right to be there and returned. Elliot remained secured by the police during this time.
¶4 When questioned, S.Q. told deputies that Elliot and C.G. had brought methamphetamine to the house to smoke but were interrupted by a neighbor, causing Elliot to place the methamphetamine in C.G.'s SUV. During a second search of the house that followed, the deputies found two more methamphetamine pipes. Other officers who had arrived at the scene reviewed S.Q.'s phone and found recent text messages discussing what they recognized as prices and weights for methamphetamine.
¶5 With Elliot, C.G. and S.Q. still handcuffed and held in different police cars, the detectives called for a drug detection dog. When the drug detection dog arrived ninety minutes later, it alerted to the presence of drugs while outside the SUV. The deputies then searched the vehicle and found methamphetamine and baggies behind the front passenger's seat and in the center console. By that time, Elliot, C.G. and S.Q. had been held for approximately four hours.
¶6 After being indicted, Elliot filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of the SUV, which the superior court denied after an evidentiary hearing. Although finding Elliot was illegally arrested at an undesignated time at some point during the four hour detention, the court found "[t]he illegal detention did not lead to any evidence against [Elliot]." The court found probable cause existed to search the SUV once S.Q. told police Elliot and C.G. brought methamphetamine to her house.
¶7 After a four day trial, the jury found Elliot guilty of transportation of dangerous drugs for sale, use of electronic communication to facilitate a felony and possession of drug paraphernalia. Elliot timely appealed her convictions and resulting sentences, and this court has jurisdiction pursuant to Article 6, Section 9, of the Arizona Constitution, ...