from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial
District, the Honorable Steven L. Marquart, Judge.
J. Traiser, Assistant State's Attorney, Fargo, ND, for
plaintiff and appellee.
T. Heck, Fargo, ND, for defendant and appellant.
VANDEWALLE, CHIEF JUSTICE.
1] Michael Ray Terrill appealed from a criminal judgment
entered upon a conditional guilty plea to possession of
methamphetamine with intent to deliver and possession of drug
paraphernalia. Terrill argues the district court improperly
denied his motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.
2] On January 25, 2017, Fargo Police Department Narcotics
Detective Chris Holte applied for and was granted a search
warrant "to search the persons of Levi Schumacher and
Michael Schumacher and any other persons determined to reside
at 4325 23 rd Ave SW room #102 Fargo, ND." Once officers
arrived at room #102 of the AmericInn Hotel & Suites,
they knocked, announced their presence, and waited for a
response. Detective Holte could hear the room being ransacked
and forcibly entered the room. Three individuals were in the
room. Detective Holte followed two individuals into the
bathroom as they appeared to be flushing narcotics down the
toilet. Detective Mendez followed the third person, later
identified as Terrill, into a bedroom. Terrill appeared to be
hiding behind a bed in a room strewn with drug paraphernalia
including needles/syringes and baggies. Specifically, there
were syringes on the night stands on either side of the bed,
on the floor beside the bed, and behind the bed where Terrill
was attempting to hide. None of the syringes were within
arms' reach of Terrill when Detective Mendez entered the
3] Detective Mendez instructed Terrill to crawl out from
behind the bed and then placed him in handcuffs. Before
conducting a pat-down search, Mendez asked Terrill if he had
anything sharp in his pockets that could poke or stick him.
Detective Mendez then conducted a search of Terrill's
person and found a bag containing approximately one ounce of
methamphetamine. Terrill was arrested and subsequently
charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to
deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.
4] Terrill moved to suppress all evidence obtained as a
result of his arrest. The district court denied the motion,
finding Terrill was in constructive possession of drug
paraphernalia based on the syringes found in the bedroom,
and, therefore, Detective Mendez had probable cause to arrest
him for possession of drug paraphernalia. The district court
also found Detective Mendez was authorized to search Terrill
incident to arrest.
5] This Court reviews a district court's decision on a
motion to suppress as follows:
[W]e give deference to the district court's findings of
fact and we resolve conflicts in testimony in favor of
affirmance. We "will not reverse a district court
decision on a motion to suppress... if there is sufficient
competent evidence capable of supporting the court's
findings, and if the decision is not contrary to the manifest
weight of the evidence." Questions of law are fully
reviewable on appeal, and whether a finding of fact meets a
legal standard is a question of law. Whether law enforcement
violated constitutional prohibitions against unreasonable
search and seizure is a question of law.
State v. Kaul, 2017 ND 56, ¶ 5, 891 N.W.2d 352