from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable
Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge
Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender:
Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Chief
Appellate Counsel; Robin S. Cooper, Senior Assistant
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General;
Christyne M. Martens, Deputy Attorney General; Katherine A.
Adams * , Assistant Attorney General.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
An Order Allowing Withdrawal of Counsel was entered on April
Larry Gibson was convicted of one count of possession with
intent to deliver marijuana. He appeals his conviction,
arguing the evidence against him should have been suppressed
because it was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment
to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 4 of
the Wyoming Constitution. We affirm.
Did the district court err in denying Mr. Gibson's motion
to suppress evidence?
While patrolling Interstate 80, Trooper Jeramy Pittsley
stopped a pickup truck towing a horse trailer because he did
not see any registration displayed on the vehicle. When
Trooper Pittsley told Mr. Gibson why he had pulled him over,
Mr. Gibson stated it was "over there" and pointed
to a piece of paper taped to the passenger-side windshield of
the truck. Trooper Pittsley noticed that Mr. Gibson was
"excessively nervous" and that his hands were
shaking as he handed over his driver's license and
insurance. Trooper Pittsley asked Mr. Gibson to exit the
vehicle, retrieve the piece of paper from the windshield, and
accompany him to his patrol car.
In the patrol car, Trooper Pittsley began entering Mr.
Gibson's information and asked dispatch to check the
vehicle's VIN number and Mr. Gibson's criminal
history. He also contacted his shift partner, Trooper Daren
Mrsny, and asked him to assist with the stop. Trooper
Pittsley asked Mr. Gibson about his travel plans. Mr. Gibson
responded that he was traveling from Redding, California to
Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Trooper Pittsley again noticed that
Mr. Gibson seemed "excessively nervous," saying
that he could "see his heart beating through his
chest," that he was wiping his hands on his pants, and
that his hands were shaking. He found this unusual because he
had already informed Mr. Gibson that he would receive a
warning "if everything checked out."
Trooper Pittsley testified that it typically takes him eight
to fifteen minutes to issue a warning citation but that this
stop was out of the ordinary because Mr. Gibson "had
some registration issues." Trooper Pittsley had
difficulty reading the piece of paper Mr. Gibson had
retrieved from the windshield because "[t]he print was
pretty faded on it and out of alignment." He also
noticed that the paper did not have an expiration date and
"[u]nder ownership it stated it was owned by a Ray
McGarver." Mr. Gibson told him Ray McGarver was the
owner of the car dealership where he had purchased the truck.
Trooper Pittsley and Mr. Gibson went back to the truck to
attempt to locate any additional paperwork, such as a bill of
sale, and Mr. Gibson attempted to call the dealership.
Approximately 15 minutes into the stop, Trooper Pittsley
contacted dispatch and asked whether it had any results on
the information he had asked it to run. Trooper Mrsny arrived
at roughly the same time, and dispatch still had not provided
Trooper Pittsley with the information. Trooper Pittsley asked
Trooper Mrsny to continue filling out the citation while he
"did a free air sniff with [his] canine." The dog
alerted to the front right-side area of the trailer about 17
minutes after Trooper Pittsley had initiated the traffic
stop. Trooper Pittsley searched the trailer and found several
vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana weighing, in total,
approximately 197 pounds.
The State charged Mr. Gibson with one count of possession
with intent to deliver marijuana, one count of felony
possession of marijuana, and one count of "No Valid
Registration." Mr. Gibson moved to suppress the
marijuana, arguing the search was unreasonable under the
United States and Wyoming Constitutions. The district court
denied the motion, concluding that the initial traffic stop
was justified and that the dog sniff to the exterior of the
vehicle did not unreasonably extend the scope of the stop.
The State agreed to dismiss two of the counts against Mr.
Gibson and cap its sentencing recommendation at five to ten
years in exchange for a guilty plea to the possession with
intent to deliver charge. Mr. Gibson entered a conditional
guilty plea, reserving his right to appeal the denial of his
motion to suppress. The district ...