from the District Court of Natrona County The Honorable W.
Thomas Sullins, Judge
Representing Appellant: Vaughn H. Neubauer, Neubauer, Pelkey
and Goldfinger, LLP, Laramie, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee Peter K. Michael, Attorney General;
David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Christyne M.
Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Darrell D.
Jackson, Director, Bradford H. Coates, Student Director, and
David B. Maris, Student Intern, Prosecution Assistance
Program, University of Wyoming, College of Law. Argument by
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Cameron Jennings challenges the district court's denial
of his motion to suppress evidence of a controlled substance
found in his vehicle after a traffic stop. He claims that the
traffic stop was unjustified and a violation of his
constitutional rights. We will affirm.
Did the district court err when it denied Mr. Jennings'
motion to suppress evidence?
On the morning of November 5, 2014, the general manager of a
motel in Casper, Wyoming, heard a woman outside her room who
was "crying and seemed to be
hysterical." The woman turned back toward her room,
where a man opened the door and yelled at her. After the
woman went back into the room, the manager "heard
screaming and yelling, " heard some "loud thuds,
" and saw "the curtains swishing back and forth in
the room." The manager thought the woman "was in
danger, " so she called the police. She related what she
had seen and heard to the police dispatcher. While the
manager was still on the telephone with the dispatcher, she
saw "the vehicle that was registered to that room, which
was a school bus, " leave the parking lot. A man wearing
a black hoodie and the woman seen crying earlier were inside
the bus. The manager gave this information to the dispatcher
The dispatcher called for two units to respond to a
"family fight" at the motel. Detective Dunnuck of
the Casper police department was in the vicinity, and
responded to the call. As he drove toward the motel, the
detective listened to the "radio traffic" and
watched the written "call comments" on the computer
screen in his patrol car. He learned that an employee of the
motel reported a "male and female arguing within the
room, " the woman coming out of the room, "crying,
" then going "back in the room" where they
were again "yelling at each other." He knew that
the motel manager reported hearing "loud thuds from
[the] room . . . yelling . . . and then they're leaving
in [a] yellow Chevy bus with Colorado plates." He
learned where the bus was and got a description of the
female. He spotted the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop.
Detective Dunnuck approached the vehicle on its passenger
side and, as soon as the window was opened, the officer
smelled "a strong odor of raw marijuana." After a
second officer arrived at the scene, they asked Mr. Jennings
to get out of the vehicle. Mr. Jennings refused and resisted
but he was eventually removed from the vehicle. The officers
handcuffed Mr. Jennings and placed him into a patrol car.
After removing the passenger from the bus, the officers
conducted a search and found "copious amounts of
marijuana" inside. Mr. Jennings was arrested and charged
with conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, unlawful
possession of a controlled substance, and obstruction of a
peace officer engaged in the lawful performance of official
After pleading not guilty to all three charges, Mr. Jennings
filed a motion to suppress evidence he contended was obtained
in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 4 of the
Wyoming Constitution. After conducting a hearing, the
district court denied the motion. The district court
based upon the totality of the circumstances in the case at
hand the stop of [Mr. Jennings'] vehicle was justified
when Officer [Dunnuck] showed specific, articulable facts and
rational inferences giving rise to a reasonable suspicion
that a person has committed or may be committing a crime and
therefore, the traffic stop and investigatory detention were
further concluded that, "additionally, based upon the
totality of the circumstances in the case at hand the stop of
[Mr. Jennings'] vehicle was also justified pursuant to
Officer [Dunnuck's] community caretaker function since
the search ...