Inventory search allowed when car has to be impounded


In 2000, James Dycus responded to a knock at his front door. His wife, Virgie, still in bed, heard a blundering noise, and then her dog barked, so she went to the front door, which was ajar. Seeing nothing amiss, she went into the kitchen where she could see through the window that her husband was in the yard, talking to a black man.

Sensing that something was not right, Virgie Dycus dialed 911 just as a second black man rounded the corner and struck her husband’s head from behind with a pipe like object. The second man continued to beat Dycus, and then took his wallet.

While on the phone with the dispatcher, Virgie Dycus continued to described the scene as she saw it. She reported that the two men had driven away in a white car. A few minutes later, a neighbor reported a white car traveling at a high rate of speed away from the area. The police found the abandoned getaway vehicle a short distance away, and the vehicle identification number (VIN) showed that it was registered to Terry Lattimore.*

Terry Lee Lattimore and Gregory Brown were indicted as habitual offenders for killing James Dycus in the course of a robbery. Lattimore and Brown were tried separately. In 2002, Lattimore was convicted in the Circuit Court of Washington County of capital murder and sentenced to life.

In post conviction relief appeal (PCR), Lattimore argued his car was illegally searched. MCOA affirmed.


Lattimore failed to raise a claim of illegal search and seizure during the trial, and he failed to raise this claim on direct appeal. Now, Lattimore attempts to argue this claim under the guise of ineffective assistance of counsel. However, this issue is procedurally barred from review.

Procedural bar notwithstanding, the trial court found that Lattimore’s vehicle was lawfully searched and seized. In Logan, we said it is permissible for officers to conduct an inventory search of a vehicle when the circumstances require it to be impounded. Hence, Lattimore’s argument is without merit.

* There is nothing in the record indicating what was found in the car during the inventory search. The facts above come from the MSC appeal (second hyperlink below). The first hyperlink is the PCR appeal.