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State v. Barker

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 12, 2016

State of Minnesota, Appellant,
v.
Demarcus Lemaine Barker, Respondent

         Rice County District Court File No. 66-CR-16-575

         Reversed and remanded

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John L. Fossum, Rice County Attorney, Terence J. Swihart, Assistant County Attorney, Faribault, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Drake D. Metzger, Metzger & Nyberg, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Stauber, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Bratvold, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         Probable cause that a defendant was in actual possession of a controlled substance can be established by circumstantial evidence.

          OPINION

          WORKE, Judge

         In this pretrial appeal, the state challenges the district court's order dismissing several controlled-substance charges for lack of probable cause. Because the dismissal has a critical impact on the state's case and the circumstantial evidence provides sufficient probable cause to believe that respondent physically possessed the controlled substances, we reverse and remand.

         FACTS

         In March 2016, an agent with the Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender Task Force (CRDVOTF) received information from a confidential source (CS) that respondent Demarcus Barker was planning a trip to Chicago to purchase cocaine and marijuana. The CS told the agent that Barker asked the CS to go with him to Chicago. The CS agreed. The CS drove a rented 2007 Nissan Altima, and Barker drove a rented black Dodge Charger. The CS allowed CRDVOTF to place a tracking device on the Nissan.

         The CS and Barker were in Chicago for four days. The CS remained in contact with CRDVOTF during the trip and told agents that Barker had obtained Ecstasy pills, that the pills looked like they were purple and yellow, and that the pills were packaged in bundles of 20 or more. The CS reported that Barker had also obtained cocaine and marijuana.

         On March 14, Barker, along with his cousin, and the CS left Chicago and headed back to Minnesota. Barker and his cousin drove back in the Charger, and the CS drove separately in the Nissan. The CS told CRDVOTF agents that during a stop on the trip home, the CS had seen Ecstasy pills and marijuana in a white plastic bag in the Charger's trunk. CRDVOTF agents were also aware that there was an active felony warrant for Barker's arrest on an unrelated matter, and the agents arranged to have him arrested when he entered Rice County.

         At approximately 10:20 p.m., officers observed Barker's vehicle traveling 87 mph in a 70-mph-zone along I-35 in Rice County, Minnesota. The officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop of Barker's vehicle. The Charger initially slowed down, but then accelerated and fled at a high rate of speed. Officers deactivated their emergency lights and followed the Charger. At one point, an officer observed the Charger stopped in the middle of the roadway. When the ...


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