In 2012, Lieutenant Nick McLendon with Richland P.D. stopped a Ford 500 for speeding. Darryl Bobo was the registered owner and was not in the car. Parrish Norfleet, driver, said he was traveling from Georgia to California to visit family.
McLendon noticed several air fresheners, a small overnight bag, and a single key in the ignition, which are consistent with cars being used to smuggle contraband. When asked, Norfleet refused to consent to a search of the car. Criminal history reports indicated that Bobo possessed prior narcotics convictions and that Norfleet possessed misdemeanor narcotics violations.
After asking Norfleet to exit the vehicle, McLendon deployed his certified K-9 dog, Rocky, for a free air sniff. Rocky jumped inside the vehicle’s open passenger window and drew McLendon’s attention to the seam of the backseat and the trunk. At that point, McLendon conducted a search of the vehicle and found $137,325 in a hidden compartment in the trunk. Norfleet denied any knowledge
The State filed a forfeiture petition for the truck and the money. Norfleet did not respond but Bobo filed an Answer and a hearing occurred wherein it was determined by a preponderance of the evidence that the drugs and money were forfeitable under Mississippi law. Bobo appealed the finding, arguing that the state illegally extended the traffic stop for five hours and seized his property. MCOA affirms.
Our caselaw in Tate provides that, if, during a proper investigative stop, a police officer develops reasonable, articulable suspicion of some criminal activity in addition to that initially suspected, the permissible scope of the stop expands to include the officer’s investigation of the newly suspected criminal activity.
During the traffic stop McLendon observed numerous air fresheners inside the vehicle, a small overnight bag on the backseat, and a single key in the vehicle’s ignition. McLendon stated that the single key in the ignition and the multiple air fresheners were consistent with indicators he had encountered in other vehicles used to smuggle contraband. McLendon further testified that the results of the criminal history reports he requested indicated that Bobo possessed prior narcotics convictions and that Norfleet possessed misdemeanor narcotics violations.
In Shelton, this court recognized that, even without reasonable, articulable suspicion, the performance of a dog sniff of the outside of a vehicle by a trained canine during a routine, valid traffic stop is not a violation of one’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. We held in Shelton that the drug detecting dog’s positive alerts created probable cause for the law enforcement officer to search the trunk of the defendants’ rental car in that case.
Here, McLendon testified that his certified K-9 dog jumped inside the open passenger window of Bobo’s vehicle and alerted McLendon to the seam of the backseat and the trunk. Following the alert, McLendon called for backup and informed Norfleet that he would be conducting a probable cause search of the vehicle.
Based on our review of the facts in the record and applicable caselaw, we find no merit to Bobo’s claims that McLendon unlawfully extended the traffic stop and illegally seized Bobo’s property.