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A.V. MAN'S CONVICTION THROWN OUT.

Byline: KAREN MAESHIRO

Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- An appeals court has thrown out the drug conviction of an Antelope Valley ex-convict because a nearly five-hour traffic stop by sheriff's deputies to initially investigate the licensing on his car went beyond what is constitutional.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with Stacy Ramon Samuel that the trial judge erred in denying a defense motion to disallow evidence of marijuana found in the car.

"(The two deputies) reasonably suspected appellant's car was not properly licensed after they 'ran' the license plate and found it was not found in the records of the DMV. Accordingly, the stop was justified at its inception," the ruling said.

"An investigatory stop exceeds constitutional bounds when police extend its duration beyond the time reasonably necessary under the circumstances that justified the initial stop," the ruling added.

Samuel was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading no contest to possession of marijuana for sale.

The traffic stop occurred in Lancaster in November 2004. Prosecutors had argued that the search was justified by Samuel's parole status.

Samuel testified at a hearing that he did not tell deputies he was on parole until after he was handcuffed and seated in the back of the patrol car, according to the ruling. At that time, the deputies had already searched the car.

Neither deputy testified about the timing of Samuel's admission he was on parole. The order of questioning by the prosecution created an impression that Samuel revealed his status before the deputies removed him from his car and searched it, the ruling said.

"(N)either the testimony of the deputies nor any other evidence showed that the deputies learned of appellant's parole status within the time period reasonably necessary to investigate and act upon the license-plate problem that led them to stop appellant's car," the ruling said.

"The prosecution therefore did not satisfy its burden of proving the reasonableness of the entire traffic stop."

Records showed that the deputies checked the car's vehicle identification number against Department of Motor Vehicles records at 7:36p.m. and learned that the proper license plate had expired six months earlier, the ruling said.

The traffic stop occurred at 2:50p.m. -- four hours and 46minutes earlier, the ruling said.

"Therefore, the deputies had admittedly already prolonged the traffic stop far beyond the time reasonably necessary to investigate the license-plate problem when they learned about the expiration of the prior license plate.

karen.maeshiro@dailynews.com

(661) 267-5744
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Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 19, 2007
Words:414
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