from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable
Steven K. Sharpe, Judge.
Guthrie, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Bridget Hill, Wyoming Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig,
Deputy Attorney General; Christyne M. Martens, Senior
Assistant Attorney General; Benjamin Fischer, Assistant
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
Appellant Bryan Robinson pleaded guilty to possession of more
than three ounces of marijuana and verbally reserved the
right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion
to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his
vehicle. Written conditional plea agreements are typically
required; however, under the unique circumstances of this
case, we exercise our discretion to review the
verbally-reserved issue. On the merits, we affirm the
district court's denial of Mr. Robinson's motion to
The issues on appeal are:
Mr. Robinson enter a proper conditional guilty plea?
the district court err by denying Mr. Robinson's motion
to suppress which was based upon his claim the trooper
violated his Fourth Amendment rights?
the trooper have reasonable suspicion to stop Mr. Robinson
for following another vehicle too closely?
the trooper have reasonable suspicion that Mr. Robinson was
in possession of illegal controlled substances to justify
extending the duration of the stop for a drug-dog sniff of
Mr. Robinson's car?
Shortly after 10 a.m. on December 28, 2017, Wyoming Highway
Patrol Trooper Shane Carraher observed Mr. Robinson driving a
red Chevrolet Camaro eastbound on Interstate 80 in Laramie
County, Wyoming. Mr. Robinson was driving below the speed
limit; but, when he saw the trooper's patrol car, he
tapped his brakes to slow down further. Trooper Carraher
began following Mr. Robinson and turned on his video recorder
as he approached the car. The trooper noticed the car's
sunroof was open even though the temperature was around 32
degrees. Mr. Robinson drove up behind a semi-truck, and
Trooper Carraher used a stopwatch to calculate how closely
Mr. Robinson was following the truck. Based upon his
measurements, Trooper Carraher stopped Mr. Robinson for
following the truck too closely.
Trooper Carraher approached Mr. Robinson's car and spoke
with him through the passenger-side window. The trooper said
he was going to issue Mr. Robinson a warning for following
another vehicle too closely and requested his documentation.
Mr. Robinson said the car was a rental and the rental
agreement was on his cell phone. When Mr. Robinson handed
over his driver's license, Trooper Carraher noticed his
hand was shaking. Trooper Carraher also saw snack food,
energy drinks, water, trash, and a backpack on the front
passenger floorboard of Mr. Robinson's car.
Trooper Carraher asked Mr. Robinson to accompany him to the
patrol car while he completed the warning. The rental
agreement showed Mr. Robinson had rented the car on December
26, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he was supposed to return
it there on December 27, 2017. When the trooper questioned
him about his travel plans, Mr. Robinson explained he was
going to Kansas City to participate in a dance competition on
December 29, 2017. Mr. Robinson indicated he planned to leave
the car in Kansas City, pay the fees associated with
returning the car late and failing to return it to Las Vegas,
and fly back to Las Vegas. Trooper Carraher asked why he did
not fly to the competition, and Mr. Robinson said he decided
to go to Kansas City at the last minute and airfare was too
expensive. Mr. Robinson showed Trooper Carraher a flyer for
the dance competition which said it was to be held on
December 30, 2017, rather than December 29, 2017.
Trooper Carraher asked Mr. Robinson whether he was on
probation or parole and whether he had been arrested or cited
for any drug crimes. Mr. Robinson answered, "No,"
to these questions. The trooper obtained Mr. Robinson's
criminal history report from dispatch, which showed Mr.
Robinson had previously been cited for misdemeanor possession
of marijuana. Trooper Carraher suspected Mr. Robinson was
transporting controlled substances and detained him for a
drug-dog sniff of the car. The dog alerted on Mr.
Robinson's car, and a subsequent search yielded
approximately ten pounds of marijuana.
The State charged Mr. Robinson with two counts-possession
with intent to deliver marijuana (Count I) and possession of
more than three ounces of marijuana (Count II). Wyo. Stat.
Ann. § 35-7-1031(a)(ii) and (c)(iii) (LexisNexis 2019).
Mr. Robinson filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized
during the search of his car. After a hearing, the district
court denied the motion to suppress. Mr. Robinson
subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of more than three
ounces of marijuana in exchange for the State's agreement
to dismiss the other count. The district court sentenced him
to two to four years in prison, suspended the sentence, and
ordered him to serve three years of supervised probation.
This appeal followed.
Conditional Guilty Plea
The State and Mr. Robinson executed a written plea agreement,
but it did not state Mr. Robinson's guilty plea was
conditional. The discussion at Mr. Robinson's change of
plea hearing demonstrated the parties had agreed otherwise.
THE COURT: . . . I've just been handed a copy of the plea
agreement by [defense counsel]. I would ask [defense
counsel], if he doesn't mind, to summarize what the plea
agreement is in this case.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Thank you, Your Honor. In exchange for a
plea of guilty to Count II of the Information, possession of
marijuana, a felony, the party will -- the State is going to
be recommending a two - to four-year sentence in favor of a
three-year period of supervised probation.
Count I would be dismissed. Mr. Robinson would have the right
to appeal the ruling on the suppression of evidence. And if
he were to ...