In 2001, Charles Richardson was murdered in his home in Lee County, Mississippi. A week prior to the death of Richardson, Derrick Walker claims a man approached him and told Walker that he had to kill Richardson or he would kill his mother and stepfather. Walker knew Richardson because the men shared a familial connection–Walker’s stepfather and Richardson were brothers-in-law.
Walker’s plan was to kill Charles Richardson, take his car, load Walker’s things into it and go to Chicago. While Richardson was at a musical concert with a church, Walker broke into Richardson’s house and waited for him with a knife. When Richardson returned home, he stabbed him to death and then lit the house on fire.
He then put his stuff in Richardson’s car, ditched the knife on the road, and headed for Chicago. Trooper Mike Kennedy, Arkansas State Police, was running stationary radar on Interstate 40 and pulled Walker over for speeding in a construction zone.
When questioned, Walker told Kennedy the car belonged to Richardson. Kennedy then learned that Walker’s license was suspended and again asked again who owned the vehicle. Walker then changed his story and said he bought the car for $500 in Little Rock from a man named Byron.
Kennedy then arrested Walker for driving with a suspended license (arrestable offense in Arkansas) and read him his Miranda warnings. Kennedy ran a check on the license plate of the car and discovered that it was registered to a Jeffrey Richardson. When he couldn’t reach Richardson, he performed an inventory search in accordance with his department’s policy after an arrest.
He found a program from the church concert and called the pastor’s wife, who advised him that Richardson had been murdered that same day. Walker was Mirandized and confessed to the murder. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. On appeal, he argued the search of the vehicle was improper. MSC affirmed.
A. Wasn’t Issued a Ticket and Stop was Pretextual
Kennedy testified that Walker was speeding as he was exiting a construction zone. Walker never contested, and does not now contest, Kennedy’s testimony that he was speeding. Because Walker failed to contradict Kennedy’s testimony that he was speeding, the testimony of Kennedy shall be taken as true. Therefore, it cannot be said that Kennedy’s stop was pretextual.
Walker claims that pretext is shown from the fact that he never was issued a speeding citation. The U.S. Supreme Court in Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996), said that a traffic stop, even if pretextual, does not violate the Fourth Amendment if the officer making the stop has probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred. This is an objective test based on the facts known to the officer at the time of the stop, not on the motivations of the officer in making the stop.
Additionally, although this court has never addressed the present issue, the MCOA stated in McCollins that there is no requirement that an officer issue a citation for the predicate traffic violation to have a valid stop or search.
Walker’s claim is without merit.
Walker has no standing to make a Fourth Amendment claim. Richardson, not Walker, was the owner of the car. Only persons whose Fourth Amendment rights have been violated can benefit from the protections of the exclusionary rule.
We hold that Walker has no standing to allege a Fourth Amendment violation because he has no reasonable expectation of privacy in a car he stole and did not own.