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Woods v. Norman

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 6, 2016

Dimetrious L. Woods Petitioner - Appellant
Jeff Norman Respondent - Appellee

          Submitted: January 13, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City

          Before LOKEN, GRUENDER, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.

         Appellant Dimetrious Woods was convicted of second-degree drug trafficking following a bench trial in Missouri state court. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction on direct review and subsequently affirmed the denial of his motion for post-conviction relief. Woods petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court[1] denied his petition. We affirm.


         On May 19, 2006, shortly before 8:30 p.m., Woods and Raymond Brown were traveling eastbound on Interstate 70 in a car that contained over 9, 000 grams of powdered cocaine. The highway patrol had set up a "ruse checkpoint, " which involved posting signs indicating that a drug checkpoint was ahead in order to induce drug carriers to exit the highway to bypass the checkpoint. Woods and Brown exited the highway after passing these signs. Officer Bret Brooks saw the vehicle exit the interstate, cross the overpass, and return to the interstate traveling in the opposite direction.

         Concerned that Woods and Brown were attempting to avoid the ruse checkpoint, Officer Brooks followed the vehicle down the interstate. Officer Brooks activated his emergency lights after he observed the vehicle exceed the posted speed limit and change lanes without signaling. The vehicle exited the interstate and pulled into a truck stop. Before the car came to a complete stop, the doors opened and both Brown and Woods exited the vehicle, Brown from the driver side and Woods from the passenger side. Both men began walking quickly toward the truck stop's convenience store. Officer Brooks stopped behind the vehicle with the lights of his patrol car flashing. He exited the patrol car and called out to Woods and Brown, telling them to stop. Neither Woods nor Brown complied. After Officer Brooks yelled a second time, Woods turned around and began walking toward Officer Brooks. Brown did not stop walking away until Officer Brooks yelled a third time.

         Officer Brooks then directed Woods back to the car and took Brown a short distance away. Officer Brooks informed Brown of the traffic violations he had committed and asked for his driver's license. Brown was breathing heavily, his hands were shaking, and he had some difficulty removing his license from his pants. Brown consented to a search of his person, during which Officer Brooks found two large bundles of hundred-dollar bills. Officer Brooks then moved Brown to the patrol car. Brown informed Officer Brooks that he previously had been convicted of a drug offense and was on parole. When Officer Brooks asked Brown if he could search the vehicle, Brown responded that he could not consent to a search because Woods had rented the car. Officer Brooks also asked Brown if there was anything illegal in the vehicle, but Brown did not respond.

         Officer Brooks then approached Woods, who was seated in the passenger seat of the car. Woods provided Officer Brooks with his driver's license, which indicated that he lived in Columbia, Missouri. Woods also explained that he had rented the vehicle in St. Louis. While speaking with Woods, Officer Brooks observed that Woods had two cell phones, one of which was ringing repeatedly. Officer Brooks also observed that Woods's hands were shaking and that he was breathing heavily. When Officer Brooks asked Woods for permission to search the vehicle, Woods responded, "Well, normally I call my lawyer first, but in this case, no." Officer Brooks then asked Woods if he ever had been arrested before, and Woods responded that he had served five years in prison for drug trafficking.

         Either before or after he spoke with Woods, Officer Brooks called a canine officer and requested that he come to the truck stop. When this officer arrived, he ran his dog around Woods's rental vehicle, and the dog indicated that there was an illegal substance inside the car. The canine officer opened the trunk and found what appeared to be bundles of drugs.

         At that point, Officer Brooks placed both Woods and Brown under arrest. Officer Brooks searched the two men and found that Brown had in his possession more than $4, 000 and that Woods had more than $2, 000. Brooks then handcuffed both men and put them in the back of his patrol car. At that point, Brooks also activated a tape recorder inside the patrol car in order to record any conversation that took place between Woods and Brown. Brooks did not inform the men that he was recording their conversation.

         After Officer Brooks left the patrol car to conduct a full search of Woods's vehicle, Brown informed Woods that he would "take everything, " a statement to which Woods replied, "[r]eally?" Woods also explained to Brown the nature of ruse checkpoints, and Brown responded that Woods "should've told him that" so he would not have exited the highway.

         Officer Brooks conducted two field tests of the substance inside the bundles found in the back of the car, and both tests indicated positive for cocaine. In addition to the bundles in the trunk, Officer Brooks's search of the vehicle revealed several more cell phones, a radar detector, an air deodorizer, and paperwork addressed to Woods at a St. Louis address.

         Both Woods and Brown were charged with drug trafficking. The two men were to be tried jointly, but Brown accepted a plea deal on the morning of trial. During Woods's bench trial, the state presented the testimony of Officer Brooks and the canine officer regarding the events leading up to the discovery of the cocaine. One of the courtroom bailiffs also testified, explaining that during a break the previous day Woods had referred to Brown as ...

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