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Daniels v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

November 6, 2018

ANTHONY MARQUIS DANIELS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

          FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF WILLIAMSBURG AND COUNTY OF JAMES CITY Charles J. Maxfield, Judge Designate

          Ivan D. Fehrenbach (D.R. Dansby, Ltd., on briefs), for appellant.

          Lauren C. Campbell, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on briefs), for appellee.

          Present: Judges Humphreys, Malveaux and Senior Judge Annunziata Argued at Norfolk, Virginia

          OPINION

          ROBERT J. HUMPHREYS JUDGE

         Following a conditional guilty plea, appellant Anthony Marquis Daniels ("Daniels") was convicted in the Circuit Court of the City of Williamsburg and County of James City (the "circuit court") of manufacturing or selling a controlled substance, in violation of Code § 18.2-248, and possession of marijuana, second or subsequent offense, in violation of Code § 18.2-250.1. The circuit court sentenced Daniels to serve ten years and thirty days in prison, with five years suspended. On appeal, Daniels alleges the following assignments of error resulting from the circuit court's denial of his two motions to suppress:

1. The [circuit] court erred when it denied Daniels' Motions to Suppress the Evidence in the apartment because the search of the apartment violated Virginia Code Section 19.2-54.
2. The [circuit] court erred when it denied Daniels' Motions to Suppress the Evidence in the Toyota Avalon vehicle because the court's reliance on the plain view exception to the warrant requirement was clearly erroneous.
3. The [circuit] court erred when it denied Daniels' Motions to Suppress the search of the vehicle, thereby also denying Daniels' Motions to Suppress his inculpatory statements as derivative from an illegal search.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 27, 2016, Investigator David Rochard ("Investigator Rochard") of the James City County Police Department and a member of the Tri-Rivers Drug Task Force (the "task force") was investigating a heroin overdose. The overdose occurred two days earlier on May 25, 2017. Specifically, the task force was investigating heroin packaged in wax paper bags stamped with the word "Miracle" in red ink. This specific packaging was found at the scene of the overdose.

         An informant advised police that Daniels was the supplier of the distinctively marked heroin. The informant also described the apartment complex where Daniels resided and sold heroin and mentioned that Daniels drove a "blue-green sedan . . . probably a Toyota." The informant had previously purchased heroin from Daniels behind the apartment complex. Based upon this information, the task force determined that Daniels resided at the "Regency at Longhill" apartment complex.

         Investigator Rochard and the task force subsequently conducted surveillance on the apartment complex. At some point, the task force "located a vehicle that possibly matched the description based upon the [informant's] observations[.]" As Investigator Rochard and Investigator John Graca ("Investigator Graca") passed the vehicle, Investigator Rochard "positively identified [Daniels] from a photograph that [he] had pulled after having spoken with the witness" and based upon information in a police database. Investigators Rochard and Graca then observed the vehicle park in front of 5405 Lane Place Drive, Apartment G. Daniels was riding in the passenger seat of the vehicle with an unknown female driving. The vehicle was registered to a female living at 5405 Lane Place Drive, Apartment G.

         Around 8:21 p.m., Investigator Rochard applied for and obtained a search warrant permitting a search of "the residence, curtilage, outbuilding and vehicle[.]" However, the search warrant that Investigator Rochard received did not include the vehicle within its scope. After witnessing Daniels and the unknown female enter the apartment, a police SWAT team executed the search warrant. Daniels attempted to flee from the top window of the apartment after the SWAT team knocked on the front door. The SWAT team then made a forced entry into the apartment and detained Daniels and the unknown female. Inside, officers found a small amount of marijuana, a digital scale, and approximately $1, 000 in cash. The unknown female occupant was later identified as Valerie Kramer Burton ("Burton"), Daniels' fiancée. Burton was not arrested.

         While the vehicle was being secured, Investigator Rochard received a radio transmission from another officer that there was a suspicious item, in plain view, inside the vehicle. Investigator Rochard approached the vehicle and observed through the car window, "from the passenger side looking down[, ]" that the door handle contained "a bundle of wax paper bag[s] . . . secured by a rubber band." According to Investigator Rochard, "[i]n that bundle you could see what appeared to be a red stamp. I couldn't make out what it said but it was a red stamp."[1]Investigator Rochard believed that the bundle was packaged heroin based upon his training and experience.

         After opening the vehicle door and retrieving the bundle, Investigator Rochard observed that the various packages contained in the bundle were stamped with the word "Miracle" in red. However, before he could see the word "Miracle" clearly, Investigator Rochard needed to remove the rubber band from the bundle and observe the packages "a little more closely." Investigator Rochard photographed the evidence and subsequently discovered four additional bundles of heroin packaged in the center console and trunk of the vehicle, totaling over one hundred bags. At that point, Investigator Rochard informed Daniels of his Miranda rights and explained what items were discovered in the vehicle. Daniels admitted that the heroin belonged to ...


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