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State v. Cousan

Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

August 15, 2019

The STATE of Oklahoma, Appellant,
v.
William Lee COUSAN, Appellee.

Page 482

          AN APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF COMANCHE COUNTY; THE HONORABLE IRMA J. NEWBURN, DISTRICT JUDGE

          APPEARANCES IN DISTRICT COURT JILL OLIVER, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ATTORNEY FOR STATE

          TERESSA WILLIAMS, OKLAHOMA INDIGENT DEFENSE SYSTEM, ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT

         APPEARANCES ON APPEAL FRED C. SMITH, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, JILL D. OLIVER, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ATTORNEYS FOR STATE

          JEREMY STILLWELL, APPELLATE DEFENSE COUNSEL, ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE.

          OPINION

         ROWLAND, JUDGE.

         [¶1] The State of Oklahoma charged Appellee William Lee Cousan by Amended Information in the District Court of Comanche County, Case No. CF-2016-635, with Illegal Drug Trafficking (Count 1), in violation of 63 O.S.Supp.2015, § 2-415, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Count 2) (misdemeanor), in violation of 63 O.S.2011, § 2-405, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon (Count 3), in violation of 21 O.S.Supp.2014, § 1283. The State filed a Supplemental Information alleging two prior drug-related felony convictions for sentence enhancement of the alleged felonies. The magistrate bound Cousan over at preliminary hearing and thereafter he filed a motion to suppress all evidence seized from his person by the arresting officers as well as all statements he made to police.[1] He claimed that the police exceeded the scope of the search warrant by detaining him blocks away from the premises authorized to be searched and by searching his person during an investigative stop. The detention and search, he maintained, were neither incident to arrest nor incident to the search warrant issued for his motel room. Cousan argued that, under the totality of the circumstances, his detention and the resulting search of his person were unreasonable and unlawful. The Honorable Irma J. Newburn, District Judge, sustained Cousan’s motion to suppress evidence taken from his person in open court, and the State announced its intent to appeal. Judge Newburn filed a written order one week later, sustaining the motion to suppress and dismissing the charge of Illegal Drug Trafficking. The State of Oklahoma filed the instant appeal of the district court’s order, seeking review of two issues:

(1) whether the district court erred in ruling the search of Cousan was unreasonable; and

Page 483

(2) whether the district court erred in ruling the search of Cousan was not a lawful search incident to a valid search warrant.

         [¶2] We reverse the district court’s order for the reasons discussed below and remand this matter for further proceedings.

          BACKGROUND

         [¶3] The Lawton Police Department received an anonymous tip, on October 26, 2016, that Cousan was selling crack cocaine out of a motel room at a local Motel 6. Detective Kimberly Morton set up a surveillance of the room and observed numerous people coming and going from Cousan’s motel room. Lawton police officers stopped three people after they left the motel room, garnering more information about the activities going on inside the room. Det. Morton obtained a search warrant for the motel room based on all of this information.[2] She notified the other special operations officers, including the ...


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