from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable
Thomas W. Rumpke, Judge
Representing Appellant: Nicholas H. Carter and Derek A.
Thrall of the Nick Carter Law Firm, P.C., Gillette, Wyoming.
Argument by Mr. Thrall.
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney
General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General;
Christyne Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Joshua
C. Eames, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Eames.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
The Appellant, Michael Scott Tibbetts, appeals his conviction
for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to
distribute. Mr. Tibbetts' appeal comes after he entered a
conditional no contest plea to the charge, reserving the
right to challenge the district court's order denying his
motion to suppress. We affirm.
Mr. Tibbetts raises one issue in this appeal:
Did the district court err in its finding of fact that [Mr.
Tibbetts] consented to continued detention when law
enforcement told him "he was free to leave" and law
enforcement continued to have [its] red and blue emergency
overhead lights activated?
On May 3, 2013, Wyoming Highway Patrol dispatch advised
Trooper Jon Briggs that a newer model black Chevrolet pickup
with lifted large tires was traveling through Wyoming to
North Dakota and was possibly involved in a narcotics
transaction. At approximately 4:15 p.m., Trooper Briggs
observed a black Chevrolet pickup truck traveling in excess
of the posted speed limit on Highway 59 north of Gillette,
Wyoming. Trooper Briggs testified he believed the truck was
traveling 80 miles per hour in a posted 65 mile per hour
zone, and his radar showed the truck was traveling at 76
miles per hour. Trooper Briggs pulled the truck over and
identified the driver as Mr. Tibbetts. Mr. Tibbetts' eye
contact and body position indicated to Trooper Briggs that he
was extremely nervous. Mr. Tibbetts provided Trooper Briggs
with his driver's license and proof of insurance, Trooper
Briggs verified the insurance card matched the truck, and he
then returned to his patrol car to write a speeding citation.
Trooper Briggs returned to the truck and gave Mr. Tibbetts
the citation, his driver's license and insurance card,
and told Mr. Tibbetts to "drive safe and have a safe
day." Trooper Briggs turned to walk away from the truck,
but once he reached the rear bumper, he turned around and
asked Mr. Tibbetts if he would mind answering a few more
questions. Mr. Tibbetts advised that he had no issues with
answering further questions. Trooper Briggs asked Mr.
Tibbetts about his travel plans and then asked if he had
anything in the truck that he should not have. Mr. Tibbetts
removed a plastic sandwich bag containing Lortab pills from
the truck's console and stated he did not have a valid
prescription for the pills. Mr. Tibbetts also disclosed that
he was currently facing charges involving methamphetamine in
Trooper Briggs asked Mr. Tibbetts if he could search the
truck and he agreed to the request. However, before
conducting the search, Trooper Briggs had Mr. Tibbetts
perform various field sobriety maneuvers. Once Trooper Briggs
determined that Mr. Tibbetts was not under the influence of
drugs or alcohol, he asked again if he could search the
truck. Mr. Tibbetts responded that he did not want his truck
searched, and Trooper Briggs stated that he was going to
detain Mr. Tibbetts until a drug detection dog arrived. At
that point in time, Mr. Tibbetts told Trooper Briggs there
was methamphetamine on the floorboard behind the center
console of the truck. When Trooper Briggs looked in the
described area, he found two glass pipes containing
methamphetamine and a plastic bag also containing
methamphetamine. Trooper Briggs arrested Mr. Tibbetts and the
State charged him with one count of possession with the
intent to deliver methamphetamine.
Mr. Tibbetts filed a motion to suppress his statements and
the methamphetamine on the basis that the search of the truck
was the product of an unlawful detention that exceeded the
scope of Trooper Briggs' original justification for the
traffic stop. Mr. Tibbetts argued the original detention
never ended because Trooper Briggs did not tell Mr. Tibbetts
he was "free to leave." Following a hearing, the
district court concluded that a reasonable person in Mr.
Tibbetts' circumstances would have felt free to leave