in the Court of Appeals 18 September 2019.
by defendant from judgment entered 9 July 2018 by Judge Anna
M. Wagoner in Rowan County Superior Court No. 17CRS52497.
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney
General Dylan C. Sugar, for the State.
C. Rodriguez for defendant-appellant.
Mackie Hall ("Defendant") appeals the trial
court's denial of her motion to suppress evidence
obtained from a search of her purse. Following denial of her
motion, Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and
possession of drug paraphernalia pursuant to a plea
arrangement with the State that preserved her ability to
appeal, Defendant contends the trial court erred when it
denied her motion to suppress evidence because the court made
insufficient findings of fact related to her consent to
search her vehicle and her purse. We disagree.
and Procedural Background
April 8, 2017, at approximately 7:50 p.m., Defendant was
asleep in her car at Dan Nicholas Park in Rowan County, North
Carolina. The park was scheduled to close at 8:00 p.m. that
William Andrew Downs ("Lieutenant Downs"), with the
Rowan County Sheriff's Office, was performing a routine
sweep of the park prior to closing when he discovered
Defendant's vehicle in the parking area. Lieutenant Downs
called in the vehicle's registration number and then
approached the driver's side window to see if anyone was
inside the vehicle. He observed Defendant slumped over in the
driver's seat with her upper body leaning into the
Downs was concerned that there was a medical emergency based
on Defendant's positioning, and he knocked on the window
of the vehicle. After Lieutenant Downs knocked several times,
Defendant sat up, looked at him, and opened the driver's
side door. Defendant informed Lieutenant Downs that she was
camping in the park with her son and his Boy Scout troop, and
that she decided to take a nap in her vehicle. According to
Lieutenant Downs, Defendant's speech was slurred, her
eyes were bloodshot, and she was unsteady on her feet when
she exited the vehicle.
interacting with Defendant, Lieutenant Downs noticed track
marks on Defendant's arms consistent with heroin use.
Lieutenant Downs asked Defendant if she had any narcotics in
her vehicle or purse, and Defendant responded that she did
not. Lieutenant Downs then asked for Defendant's
driver's license and checked for outstanding warrants.
While still in possession of Defendant's license,
Lieutenant Downs asked for consent to search her vehicle and
purse. Defendant's purse was sitting in the front seat of
State and Defendant presented conflicting evidence concerning
the events that followed. According to Lieutenant Downs, he
asked Defendant for consent to search her vehicle and purse
one time, and Defendant responded, "Sure." In
contrast, Defendant testified that Lieutenant Downs asked for
permission to search her vehicle three times, and that each
time Defendant responded, "I would really rather you
not." According to Defendant, she only consented to the
search after Lieutenant Downs threatened to take her away in
the search, Lieutenant Downs found multiple syringes in the
top section of Defendant's purse, and, again, asked her
if she was carrying anything illegal. Defendant responded,
"Am I going to jail?" According to Lieutenant
Downs, he promised Defendant that he would not take her to
jail that night if she cooperated. Defendant then informed
Lieutenant Downs that she had a syringe containing heroin in
the side compartment of her purse. Lieutenant Downs found the
syringe in Defendant's purse, along with a burnt spoon
and approximately two grams of heroin. ...