from the District Court of Sweetwater County The Honorable
Nena James, Judge
Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender:
Diane Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief
Appellate Counsel; and David E. Westling, Senior Assistant
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney
General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General;
Christyne M. Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and
Katherine A. Adams, Assistant Attorney General.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Michael Wayne Sweets entered a conditional guilty plea to
felony possession of methamphetamine. Mr. Sweets reserved the
right to challenge the denial of his motion to suppress,
hence this appeal. We will affirm.
Mr. Sweets presents one issue:
The search of Mr. Sweets' person without a warrant or
probable cause was a violation of the prohibition of
unreasonable searches as set out by the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution and the trial
court's refusal to suppress the fruits of that search
constitutes reversible error.
On October 27, 2015, the Rock Springs police department and
the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation together
executed an arrest warrant on Helen McCaulley and
investigated a tip that Matthew Sweets had bought
methamphetamine within the last 24 hours. Mr. Sweets and Ms.
McCaulley are engaged to be married.
As law enforcement arrived at Ms. McCaulley's home to
execute the warrant, they were surprised to find Mr. Sweets
leaving. Detective Jason Mower told Mr. Sweets they needed to
talk. Detective Mower told Mr. Sweets he was not under
arrest, advised Mr. Sweets of his rights, and began to tell
him about the tip that Mr. Sweets bought drugs the night
before. Mr. Sweets denied any involvement in drug activity.
Detective Mower told Mr. Sweets that he would get a search
warrant if he did not cooperate and told Mr. Sweets to keep
his hands out of his pockets. He allowed Mr. Sweets to go in
the home to get a cigarette, which he came back outside to
smoke. Another detective stayed with Mr. Sweets while
Detective Mower went to speak to DCI Agent Cody Ruiz, who was
executing the warrant inside the home. During their brief
conversation, Agent Ruiz asked if Detective Mower had done a
pat-down search, to which Detective Mower said
"no." Agent Ruiz question this and asked, "Why
not, it's officer safety isn't it?"
Agent Ruiz then came outside to speak to Mr. Sweets.
According to the agent, Mr. Sweets kept reaching into his
front pants pocket, which prompted Agent Ruiz to do a
pat-down of the waist area. Immediately, Agent Ruiz felt a
"large bulge on both sides of [Mr. Sweets'] pockets,
" and after asking what it was, Mr. Sweets removed both
methamphetamine and marijuana from his pants pocket.
The next day, Mr. Sweets was charged by criminal information
with two crimes: (1) felony possession of methamphetamine
(over 3 grams), and (2) possession of marijuana (a third
offense felony). In February of 2016, Mr. Sweets filed a
motion to suppress, ...