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State v. Donahue

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

September 23, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Oscar Danny Donahue, Appellant

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Winona County District Court File No. 85-CR-11-2380.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Karin L. Sonneman, Winona County Attorney, Christina M. Davenport, Assistant County Attorney, Winona, Minnesota (for respondent).

Liz Kramer, Ryan M. Sugden, Special Assistant State Public Defenders, Leonard, Street and Deinard, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant).

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Bjorkman, Judge; and Smith, Judge.

BJORKMAN, JUDGE.

Appellant challenges his convictions of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and refusal to submit to chemical testing, arguing that (1) the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress and (2) the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct during closing argument. Appellant also asserts several pro se arguments. We affirm.

FACTS

Early on October 28, 2011, Winona Police Officer Brad Barrientos observed a vehicle drift out of its lane, then correct back to its original lane. Officer Barrientos pursued the vehicle and also observed that one of its brake lights was malfunctioning. The vehicle made several turns, then parked along the side of the road. Officer Barrientos activated his emergency lights and parked behind the vehicle.

Officer Barrientos identified the driver as appellant Oscar Donahue. Officer Barrientos observed that Donahue's eyes were bloodshot and that Donahue smelled of alcohol. Donahue denied consuming alcohol but exhibited indicia of intoxication during field sobriety tests. Officer Barrientos arrested Donahue for driving while impaired (DWI) and searched Donahue's person, including his outerwear, his wallet, and some of his pockets. Officer Barrientos found a matchbook, pieces of loose gum, and a lighter, but no contraband. Officer Barrientos handcuffed Donahue and placed him in the back of Winona Police Officer Derek Lanning's squad car to transport him to the police station.

During the one-minute drive, Officer Lanning observed that Donahue became "fidgety, " arched his back, and placed his hands by his backside. Officer Lanning asked him what he was doing and said, "Don't be opening s--t." Donahue responded, "What am I going to open?" When they arrived at the police station, Officer Lanning asked Donahue, "You're not trying to hide anything or ditch anything, are you?" Donahue responded, "Why would I? What are you-- You guys searched me." Officer Lanning then observed a folded piece of tinfoil on the floor of the vehicle below where Donahue was seated and said, "He didn't do too good of a job, though. You just ditched this." Donahue did not respond. The tinfoil contained a white powdery substance that scientific testing revealed to be methamphetamine.

Officer Barrientos met Officer Lanning and Donahue at the police station and read Donahue the implied-consent advisory. Donahue admitted to Officer Barrientos that he had been consuming alcohol but denied that the tinfoil in Officer Lanning's squad car was his. Officer Barrientos asked Donahue if he would take a urine test. Donahue initially agreed, but when he approached the toilet he put the sample container on a ledge and declared that he "had submitted enough tests for tonight and . . . was not going to submit to a urine test." Officer Barrientos then asked Donahue if he would take a blood test, and Donahue refused.

Donahue was charged with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, refusal to submit to chemical testing, and DWI. Donahue moved the district court to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop, arguing that Officer Barrientos lacked a valid basis for the stop. The district court denied the motion. At his jury trial, Donahue testified that the drugs Officer Lanning found were not his. Donahue asserted that he was moving around in Officer Lanning's squad car because his hands were cuffed tightly behind him, which exacerbated a previous back injury; that he did not "ditch" anything in the car and denied Officer Lanning's suggestion that he had done so; and that he tried to ask Officer Lanning about the item he found on the floor of the car but was rebuffed. The jury ...


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