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State v. Moore

Supreme Court of South Carolina

January 27, 2016

The State, Petitioner,
v.
Ashley Eugene Moore, Respondent

Heard May 19, 2015.

Appeal from Spartanburg County. Roger L. Couch, Circuit Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2013-002309.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, Assistant Attorney General Mary Williams Leddon, and Assistant Attorney General Joshua L. Thomas, all of Columbia, for Petitioner.

Appellate Defender Laura R. Baer and Assistant Public Defender Dayne C. Phillips, both of Columbia, and Carmen V. Ghanjehsani, of Richardson Plowden & Robinson, P.A., of Columbia, for Respondent.

JUSTICE KITTREDGE. PLEICONES, C.J., Acting Justices Jean H. Toal and James E. Moore, concur. BEATTY, J., concurring in result only.

OPINION

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

KITTREDGE, JUSTICE:

Respondent Ashley Eugene Moore was convicted of trafficking in cocaine base and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. On appeal, Moore argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the admission of a large quantity of crack cocaine and a firearm, both of which were seized during a traffic stop. A majority of the court of appeals' panel reversed, finding that officers did not have reasonable suspicion to continue to detain Moore once the initial purpose of the traffic stop was concluded. State v. Moore, 404 S.C. 634, 746 S.E.2d 352 (Ct.App. 2013). We granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari. In light of the standard of review, we reverse the court of appeals and reinstate Moore's convictions and sentence.

I.

On June 30, 2010, Deputy Dale Owens of the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office was patrolling the I-85 corridor along with his supervisor, Corporal Ken Hancock. At around 1:10 a.m., Deputy Owens observed Moore driving northbound on the interstate and visually estimated that he was travelling in excess of the posted speed limit. Deputy Owens pulled onto the interstate, " paced" [1] Moore's vehicle, and determined that Moore was driving ten miles over the speed limit. Deputy Owens initiated a traffic stop. Moore turned on his left turn signal and appeared to move to the left; however, he then turned on his right turn signal and slowly pulled over.

Deputy Owens approached the passenger side of Moore's vehicle, observed Moore talking on the phone, and requested that Moore end the call. Deputy Owens immediately smelled an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle, and Moore readily admitted to having a couple of drinks. Deputy Owens then asked Moore for his driver's license and registration. Moore produced his driver's license and a rental agreement for the vehicle. The vehicle had been rented by a third party in Morganton, North Carolina, the previous afternoon.

At the direction of Deputy Owens, Moore exited the vehicle; however, Moore left the door of the vehicle open and had to return to shut it. Moore then lit a cigarette and consented to a pat down, which yielded a " wad" of approximately $600 in cash in Moore's pocket. Moore stated he was unemployed. Moore further informed the officers he was driving from Lawrenceville, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta, on his way to visit his grandmother in Marion, North Carolina.

Deputy Owens then administered a series of three field sobriety tests. Moore passed two of the three tests. Based on these results, Deputy Owens did not arrest Moore for driving while impaired and opted to give him a warning instead. However, Deputy Owens asked Moore for consent to search the vehicle. Moore declined to consent to a search.

At that point, approximately fifteen to sixteen minutes into the traffic stop, Corporal Hancock requested that Deputy Jason Carraway, a drug-detection canine handler, respond to the scene. When Moore learned that a canine unit was en route, he smoked another cigarette. Deputy Carraway arrived approximately sixteen ...


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