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Klomliam v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

January 3, 2014

Joy KLOMLIAM, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
The STATE of Wyoming, Appellee (Plaintiff).

Representing Appellant: Nicholas H. Carter of The Nick Carter Law Firm, P.C., Gillette, WY.

Representing Appellee: Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jeffrey Pope, Assistant Attorney General; Darrell D. Jackson, Faculty Director, Prosecution Assistance Program; David E. Singleton, Student Director, and James Wilson, Student Intern. Argument by Mr. Wilson.

Before KITE, C.J., and HILL, VOIGT, BURKE, and DAVIS, JJ.

HILL, Justice.

[¶ 1] Joy Klomliam entered conditional pleas of guilty to one charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and one charge of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, reserving the right to appeal the district court's denial of her motion to suppress. On appeal, Klomliam contends that the marijuana evidence discovered in her vehicle following a traffic stop should have been suppressed as the product of an unlawful detention under the Wyoming Constitution. We find that the detention was lawful and affirm.

ISSUES

[¶ 2] Klomliam states the issue for our review as follows:

Page 666

Did the District Court err in denying [Klomliam's] Motion to Suppress when the detention of [Klomliam] exceeded the scope of permissible detention under article 1, § 4 of the Wyoming Constitution?

FACTS

[¶ 3] On November 6, 2011, Corporal Randy Parker of the Campbell County Sheriff's Department was parked in the crossover near mile marker 120 on Interstate 90, west of Gillette, Wyoming, monitoring east and westbound traffic. Shortly after midnight, Corporal Parker clocked a red Dodge Magnum traveling eastbound at 83-84 miles per hour. As the vehicle approached Corporal Parker's location, it slowed down to 73 miles per hour.

[¶ 4] Corporal Parker pulled the vehicle over at mile marker 122. He approached the vehicle from the passenger side, using the spotlight on his patrol car and a flashlight to illuminate the vehicle. Once Corporal Parker reached the passenger side, he observed an adult female driver, an adult male in the front passenger seat, and what turned out to be three young children in the back seat. In the back end of the vehicle, Corporal Parker observed that the vehicle was full of luggage to above the back seat, and in the front of the vehicle, he observed " a lot of travel food, wrappers, stuff loose like it had been lived in for a few days" and " a single key in the vehicle with one other automobile key on the ignition."

[¶ 5] Corporal Parker knocked on the passenger window, advised the driver, Klomliam, that he had stopped her for speeding, and he asked for her driver's license, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, who owned the vehicle, and if there were any weapons in the vehicle. While Klomliam was searching for the requested documents, Corporal Parker asked Klomliam and her adult passenger where they were traveling from. Klomliam and the adult passenger both responded, with Klomliam stating they were traveling from Washington and the passenger stating they were traveling from Indiana. They then clarified that they had left Indiana on November 3rd, traveled to Washington, and were then on their return trip to Indiana. Corporal Parker asked additional questions about Klomliam's travel plans, including what she was doing in Washington and whether they were planning to drive through the entire night. Approximately two and a half minutes into the stop, Klomliam handed Corporal Parker her driver's license and a bill of sale for the vehicle she was driving, but she was unable initially to locate the vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

[¶ 6] While Klomliam continued to search for her vehicle registration and proof of insurance, Corporal Parker asked additional questions about their travel, including how far they intended to travel that evening, when they had left Indiana to travel to Washington, and why their trip involved such a quick turnaround. In response to these questions, Klomliam stated that they left Indiana on Thursday, November 3rd, drove to Washington to visit family, and left Washington that morning, November 6th, to return to Indiana. After a little under three minutes from his initial contact with Klomliam, Corporal Parker told Klomliam to continue looking for her vehicle registration and proof of insurance and returned to his patrol car with Klomliam's driver's license and the vehicle's bill of sale.

[¶ 7] After Corporal Parker returned to his patrol car, he contacted dispatch concerning the vehicle plates and began writing out a warning ticket. Corporal Parker spent the next approximately nine minutes in his patrol car before returning to speak to Klomliam. He described his activities during that period of time as follows:

I am writing out the citation, or the warning. I am checking for travel distance and looking at the documents that she gave me, and for some of them I can read without reading glasses, some I have to have reading glasses. And reading through, saw that the vehicle, which I would estimate is worth $10,000 or more, is a fairly new Dodge Magna (sic), had a Bill of Sale for $3,000. I thought that was pretty strange. The vehicle looked in good shape other than the travel, lived-in type look.

Page 667

So then I did a driver's license check and found out, on the driver's license and registration, that the car had just been registered on the 2nd and they left on the 3rd.

[¶ 8] At approximately twelve and a half minutes into the stop, Corporal Parker called out to Klomliam and asked her to step back to his patrol car. About forty-five seconds later, Klomliam complied with that request and brought with her the proof of insurance that Corporal Parker had requested. Corporal Parker asked Klomliam additional questions about her travel plans and about the vehicle and her insurance, including when she bought the vehicle, as the bill of sale was undated, why the vehicle only cost $3,000.00, when she insured the vehicle, and why she had delayed insuring the vehicle until November 1st. Klomliam explained that she had purchased the vehicle about a month earlier, that the vehicle was a rebuild, and that she delayed insuring it because she did not immediately plate the vehicle. In response to Corporal Parker's additional questions concerning her travel plans, Klomliam stated that she was traveling to Seattle to visit family visiting from Thailand. Corporal Parker then asked Klomliam her nationality.

[¶ 9] During this same period of questioning, Corporal Parker asked Klomliam and her adult passenger about their relationship to each other and the children in the vehicle. Corporal Parker described those conversations as follows:

Q. And after you visit with her again about the travel plans, did she give you inconsistent or different information?
A. Well, I asked her who all was in the car. She told me she was traveling to visit a relative coming in from Thailand, that she was a resident alien, that she was from Thailand. That didn't make sense. It was kind of, you are only, you are traveling to see somebody you haven't seen before from Thailand, and you travel 36 hours, and you are there less than a day, and you are on the road again. It didn't make sense to me. So I asked her who was in the car. She stated the male half in the car, Mr. Elliott, was her boyfriend, and that the kids were hers, except for one of them, which was her boyfriend's wife's kid. And I was a little confused on that, so I went up and asked her to stay by the car, and went up and talked to Mr. Elliott.
Q. Did you speak with him about the relationship that he may or may not have had with the defendant?
A. I did.
Q. Can you describe that conversation for us?
A. I asked him how he was related to the driver. And he told me that the driver was his sister-in-law. I asked how long he had known the driver. I had already asked the defendant how long she had known him, and she told me two years.
I asked him how long. He hymn-hawed (sic) and then asked one of the kids in the back, the oldest, I believe how old he was, when he told him he was 9, he told me he knew her 9 or 10 years which is a big contradiction between the two.
Q. Did you have any further discussions with Mr. Elliott at that time?
A. Not at that time.
Q. Okay. Then what happened?
A. I went back and talked to the defendant about the contradiction. She said that she had known him for 3 to 5, or 3 years, I believe is what she changed it to, and that he was her boyfriend's brother-in-law or brother. So she could overhear my part of the conversation I am sure, and I believe it changed what she had told me from the boyfriend to the boyfriend's brother.

[¶ 10] Corporal Parker's questioning of Klomliam after calling her back to his patrol car lasted approximately three minutes. His questioning of Klomliam's adult passenger lasted approximately one minute, after which his follow-up questions of Klomliam, concerning the inconsistencies, lasted about forty-five seconds. After asking his follow-up questions of her, Corporal Parker instructed Klomliam to return to her vehicle and wait in the vehicle. Corporal Parker then, about ...


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