This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Cory Benjamin Stumbo,
Hubbard County District Court
File No. K2-04-0300
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Keiko L. Sugisaka, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Gregory D. Larson, Hubbard County Attorney, 301 Court Avenue, Park Rapids, MN 56470 (for respondent)
B. Joseph Majors, II, Thorwaldsen, Malmstrom, Sorum & Majors, P.L.L.P., 618 First Street East, Suite 2, P.O. Box 859, Park Rapids, MN 56470 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Minge, Judge.
Appellant challenges his convictions, arguing that police had insufficient information to supply reasonable suspicion to stop or probable cause to search his vehicle. Because an informant provided an accurate prediction of appellant’s future behavior and because police corroborated other information provided by the informant, we affirm.
March 10, 2004, an informant told Hubbard County Deputy Sheriff J.T. Harris
that appellant Cory Stumbo was in
As predicted by the informant, appellant drove north on Highway 64 toward Park Rapids that afternoon. Officers waited for him to drive by, and upon identifying his vehicle based on the information provided by the informant, Deputy Greg Siera stopped appellant. Siera asked for appellant’s license and registration and asked appellant to step out of his car. Harris approached appellant and informed him that he had been stopped based on information that he was transporting illegal narcotics in his vehicle. Appellant initially denied that there were drugs in the vehicle. After some discussion between appellant and the officers, possibly including a threat to have a drug-sniffing dog brought to the scene, Harris testified that he asked appellant where the drugs were in the vehicle. Appellant told Harris that there were drugs in the trunk of the vehicle. Officers searched the trunk and found 56 grams of psilocybin and 15.9 ounces of marijuana. Appellant was charged with second-degree and fifth-degree controlled-substance crimes.
Appellant brought a motion to suppress the drugs on the basis that officers did not have a reasonable suspicion to justify stopping his vehicle or probable cause to search his vehicle and that appellant did not consent to the search. The district court denied appellant’s motion, noting that a reliable, confidential informant supplied detailed information that Harris verified. The case was submitted to the district court on stipulated facts under the procedure described in State v. Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854 (Minn. 1980). The district court convicted appellant of both charges, sentenced appellant to 48 months, and stayed execution of the sentence pending this appeal.
appellate court reviewing a pretrial ruling on a motion to suppress “may
independently review the facts and determine whether, as a matter of law, the
district court erred in suppressing or not suppressing the evidence.” State
v. Askerooth, 681 N.W.2d 353, 359 (
first issue is whether the district court erred in determining that the stop of
appellant’s car was supported by reasonable suspicion. Both the
tip from an informant can supply the requisite information supporting an
investigative stop, provided “it has sufficient indicia of reliability.” In re
Welfare of G.M., 560 N.W.2d 687, 691 (
(1) a first-time citizen informant is presumably reliable; (2) an informant who has given reliable information in the past is likely also currently reliable; (3) an informant’s reliability can be established if the police can corroborate the information; (4) the informant is presumably more reliable if the informant voluntarily comes forward; (5) in narcotics cases, “controlled purchase” is a term of art that indicates reliability; and (6) an informant is minimally more reliable if the informant makes a statement against the informant’s interests.
Ross, 676 N.W.2d 301, 304 (
A tip from an
informant that does not provide probable cause may still meet the lower
requirements of providing a reasonable suspicion. Adams
v. Williams, 407
State v. Cook, this court held that
an informant’s past reliability is not sufficient to establish probable cause
unless there is also evidence of the basis of the informant’s knowledge. 610 N.W.2d 664, 667-68 (
This basis of knowledge may be supplied directly, by first-hand information, such as when a CRI states that he purchased drugs from a suspect or saw a suspect selling drugs to another; a basis of knowledge may also be supplied indirectly through self-verifying details that allow an inference that the information was gained in a reliable way and is not merely based on a suspect’s general reputation or on a casual rumor circulating in the criminal underworld. Assessment of the CRI’s basis of knowledge involves consideration of the quantity and quality of detail in the CRI’s report and whether police independently verified important details of the informant’s report.
Ross, this court considered an
informant’s statement that the defendant was going to deliver cocaine to a
specific address at 2:30 p.m. that day.
676 N.W.2d at 303. The informant
also described the car the defendant would be driving and the clothes he would
Harris testified that the informant had provided reliable information in the
past, an important factor in evaluating the informant’s reliability. See Ross, 676 N.W.2d at 304. Also, the informant described appellant’s
vehicle and correctly predicted that appellant would be driving that vehicle
Appellant argues that the informant here received his information from a third party and that the state did not show that the third party’s information was reliable. But, as just observed, the informant here correctly predicted appellant’s future behavior on a specific day. This constitutes the type of “self-verifying details that allow an inference that the information was gained in a reliable way.” See Cook, 610 N.W.2d at 668.
also points to information regarding the license number, vehicle description,
and his personal description and argues that corroboration of such easily
obtainable information does not provide a reasonable suspicion or probable
cause. In State v. Albrecht, we
held that a tip stating that the defendant was a drug dealer, lived at an
address described by the informant, and owned a truck described by the
informant did not provide probable cause, even where police corroborated the
defendant’s address and ownership of the truck.
465 N.W.2d 107, 109 (
The second issue is whether the district court erred in determining that the search of appellant’s car was supported by probable cause. Police may search an automobile without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains contraband. Munson, 594 N.W.2d at 135. Whether information provided by an informant establishes probable cause is examined based on the totality of the circumstances, especially the informant’s credibility and veracity. Ross, 676 N.W.2d at 303-04.
For the same reasons that the facts provided by the informant established a reasonable suspicion to perform an investigatory stop, they also provided probable cause to search appellant’s vehicle once appellant was stopped and his identity was verified. The informant’s accurate prediction of appellant’s future behavior and Harris’s corroboration of other details provide a basis for a finding of probable cause. See Munson, 594 N.W.2d at 136-37; Ross, 676 N.W.2d at 305. The district court therefore did not err in finding probable cause to support the warrantless search.
The state argues that appellant’s admission that there were drugs in the trunk of his vehicle also supports a finding of probable cause. Appellant argues that this admission was coerced because officers indicated to him that if they used a narcotics dog, his vehicle would be damaged while searching it. Because we find probable cause without this admission, we do not consider the arguments of either party on this aspect of the issue.
Although we find
sufficient information to support the warrantless stop and search conducted
here, we note that officers proceeding without a warrant risk a subsequent
finding that there was not sufficient information to justify the
intrusion. Obtaining a search warrant reduces
the risk that a vehicle search will be reversed when reviewed on appeal. See In
re Welfare of D.A.G., 484 N.W.2d 787, 792 (