Judges Opinions Public Notices, — July 7, 2021 10:11 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, July 7, 2021

Volume 58, No. 49

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

CHANGE OF NAME

NOTICE OF CUSTODY ACTION

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

WRIT OF SCIRE FACIAS SUR MUNICIPAL CLAIM

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Giamo Inocencio Lao

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Letters Testamentary or of Administration have been granted in the following estates. All persons indebted to the said estate are required to make payment, and those having claims or demands to present the same without delay to the administrators or executors named.

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF WOODROW W. DECHERT, JR., late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Kristie L. Sprenkle, Executrix

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF VIOLA J. BEDLEYOUNG, late of Union Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Michael Rhoad, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF DAVID A. GODSHALL, late of Richland Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Seth A. Perry, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF AMOS E. SOLIDAY, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Robin Cantrell, Executrix

2213 State Route 72 N.

Lebanon, PA 17046

 

ESTATE OF DEANNA L. MESSIMER, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Tammy Nagy, Executor

 

Ali M. Audi, Esquire

Audi Law PLLC

20 Briarcrest Sq., Ste 206

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF STELLA S. HEIM, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Peggy F. Wike, Executrix

P.O. Box 386

Fredericksburg, PA 17026

 

Timothy T. Engler, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue,

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF MARION L. BLOUCH a/k/a MARION LOUISE BLOUCH, late of South Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Thomas C. Blouch, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF CONNELLY, LAURETTE M., late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Sheila Nawalinski & Richard Nawalinski, Co-Executors

 

Ann L. Martin, Esquire

Gibbel Kraybill & Hess LLP

P.O. Box 5349

Lancaster, PA  17606

 

ESTATE OF RUTH E. BOMBERGER, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Marie R. Hibshman, Executrix

22 Georgie Lane

Richland, PA 17087

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue,

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF ERNEST W. BRIGHTBILL, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Grace Weaver, Executrix

999 South Railroad Street

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue,

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF WARREN R. JOHE, late of Millcreek Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Linda Ann Honeybone, Executor

6 Abbey Lane

Newmanstown, PA 17073

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF FRANCIS E. DIETTE, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Cynthia M. Diette, Executrix

#3 Four Little Acres

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Joseph M. Farrell, Esquire

201/203 South Railroad Street

  1. O. Box 113

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF ALICE M. COPENHAVER, late of South Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Duane S. Copenhaver, Administrator

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF INGRID B. WAGNER, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire, Executor

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF DIANE L. CHARLES, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executrixes.

 

Susan M. Fies and Robin L. Mauk, Co-Executrixes

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF WILBUR J. MILLER, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Wilbur L. Miller, Executor

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF JUDITH H. HENRY, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Jeffrey K. Henry, Administrator

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF MARIE A. SATTAZAHN, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Jacqueline Crouse, Executrix

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF JAMES C. SNYDER, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Alyxandra N. Pavone, Administrator

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF FERNE L. BEHNEY, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Susan Hess, Co-Executor

6 Holly Lane

Mohnton, PA 19540

 

Sandra Moritz, Co-Executor

112 Temple Avenue

Mount Gretna, PA 17064

 

Samuel Behney, Jr., Co-Executor

1057 Stracks Dam Road

Lebanon, PA 17046

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF LARRY L. ZELLER, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Lynn A. Zeller, Executor

370 North Middlesex Road

Carlisle, PA 17013

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF DORIS V. SHAAK, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Susan L. Crossley, Executrix

23720 NE 61st Street

Redmond, WA 98053

 

Edward J. Coyle, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF ROBERT L. MOYER, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Robert L. Moyer, Jr., Executor

 

Jon M. Gruber, Esquire

Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP

930 Red Rose Court, Suite 300

Lancaster PA 17601

 

ESTATE OF DUANE A. FAHNESTOCK, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased 03/10/2019. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Sharon A. Brown, Executrix

 

George W. Porter, Esquire

909 E. Chocolate Ave.

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF JEAN M. QUARRY, late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Jill Quarry, Executor

1004 S. 2nd Avenue

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

Attorney

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF JOSEPH M. KEATH, late of Cleona Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Scott M. Keath, Executor

21 Willow Ave

Cleona, PA 17083

 

Scott L. Grenoble, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF NANCY M. SCHOTT, late of Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

James C. Schott, Executor

5475 Elba Way

Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

 

Jason J. Schibinger, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF WILLIAM G. TANKERSLEY, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Brian Tanksersley, Administrator

187 Coburn Avenue

Worcester, MA 01604

 

Scott L. Grenoble, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF KEVIN K. HOSTETTER, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Jody M Hostetter, Administratrix

13 Grasshopper Ct.

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Michael S. Bechtold, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF ELYNORE A. UHL, late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

John J. Uhl, Executor

P.O. Box 66

Annville, PA  17003-0066

 

ESTATE OF TAMMY L. BRUBAKER, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Patricia A. Timmins, Administratrix

1910 Schubert Road, Lot 9

Bethel, Pa 19507

 

Paul W. Kilgore, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

Attorney

 

ESTATE OF HARRY H. CORNELL A/K/A HARRY HENDERSON CORNELL, late of Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Wendy D. Cornell, Executrix

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF SUZANNE M. FASNACHT, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Keri S. Clay, Executrix

715 Hogestown Road

Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

 

Joseph M. Farrell, Esquire

201/203 South Railroad Street

P.O. Box 113

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

CHANGE OF NAME

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS

OF LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

 

NOTICE is hereby given that on June 18, 2021, a petition for change of name was filed in the Court of Common Pleas requesting a decree to change the name of NICOLE MICHELLE MAUER to NICOLE MAURER GRAY.

 

The Court has fixed the 30th day of August, 2021, at 1:30 o’clock at Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas, located at 400 South Eighth Street. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, 17042, as the time and place for the hearing on said petition when and where all persons interested may appear and show cause, if any they have, why the prayer of the petitioner should not be granted.

 

Michael S. Bechtold, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

525 S. 8th Street

Lebanon, PA  17042

 

 

NOTICE OF CUSTODY ACTION

 

THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF

LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

  1. 2019-20660

CIVIL ACTION – CUSTODY

 

BRANDON and JESSIE McGEE,

Plaintiff/Respondent

 

v.

 

MEGAN STEFONICH,

Defendant/Respondent

 

v.

 

JONATHAN BARNHART-PROCTOR

Petitioner/Intervenor

 

NOTICE

 

You, Megan Stefonich, have been named a Defendant in a Custody Action regarding your son, JMB-P. Currently, pending before the Court is a Petition to Modify Custody filed by the above Petitioner/Intervenor, Jonathan Barnhart-Proctor.

 

If you wish to defend, you must enter a written appearance personally or by attorney and file your defenses or objections in writing with the court. You are warned that if you fail to do so the case may proceed without you and a judgment may be entered against you without further notice for the relief requested by the plaintiff. You may lose money or property or other rights important to you.

 

YOU SHOULD TAKE THIS PAPER TO YOUR LAWYER AT ONCE. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A LAWYER, GO TO OR TELEPHONE THE OFFICE SET FORTH BELOW. THIS OFFICE CAN PROVIDE YOU WITH INFORMATION ABOUT HIRING A LAWYER. IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO HIRE A LAWYER, THIS OFFICE MAY BE ABLE TO PROVIDE YOU WITH INFORMATION ABOUT AGENCIES THAT MAY OFFER LEGAL SERVICES TO ELIGIBLE PERSONS AT A REDUCED FEE OR NO FEE.

 

MIDPENN LEGAL SERVICES

513 Chestnut St.

Lebanon, Pennsylvania 17042

717-274-2834

 

 

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

 

LEBANON COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA ORPHANS’ COURT DIVISION

 

NOTICE OF HEARING TO TERMINATE PARENTAL RIGHTS

 

August 5, 2021

 

Time: 9:30 a.m., Justin M. Payton

Docket No. 2021-479, In Re: Male child, MAH,

Born May 4, 2012

 

A petition has been filed asking the Court to put an end to all rights you have to your child. The

Court has set a hearing to consider ending your rights to your child.

 

That hearing will be held in Lebanon County Courthouse, Municipal Bldg., 400 S. Eighth Street,

Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in Courtroom No. 2, on the date and time specified. You are warned

that even if you fail to appear at the scheduled hearing, the hearing will go on without you and

your rights to your child may be ended by the Court without your being present. You have the

right to be represented at the hearing by a lawyer. You should take this notice to your lawyer at

once. If you do not have a lawyer, go or telephone the office set forth below to find out where

you can get legal help.

 

Mid Penn Legal Services

513 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

(717)274-2834

 

Jeremy D. Wagner, Esquire

PO Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078-0323

(717)838-6348

jwagner@brinserwagner.com

 

 

WRIT OF SCIRE FACIAS SUR MUNICIPAL CLAIM

 

COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

CIVIL ACTION LAW

 

BOROUGH OF PALMYRA, Lebanon               :

County, Pennsylvania                                          :

:      No. 2016-01722

  1. :      No. 2021-00390

:      No. 2017-00934

MICHAEL J. DAVIS and KENNETH L.           :      No. 2021-00391

MEDINA                                                             :

 

WRIT OF SCIRE FACIAS SUR MUNICIPAL CLAIM

 

To Michael J. Davis and Kenneth L. Medina, last known address 234 East Cherry Street, Palmyra, PA 17078:

 

Pursuant to 53 P.S. § 7186(c), you are hereby placed on notice that Palmyra Borough filed claims in the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County at the following numbers in the amounts indicated and on the dates indicated:

 

2016-01722                 $ 1,286.50            With interest from November 16, 2016

2021-00390                 $ 2,678.36            With interest from April 12, 2021

2017-00934                 $ 2,798.42            With interest from May 19, 2017

2021-00391                 $ 4503.43             With interest from April 12, 2021

 

with interest on each lien from the date of filing, for sewer rents and refuse collection due against the following properties situated: All those certain lots or pieces of land with improvements thereon erected known as 233 East Maple Street and 235 East Maple Street, Palmyra, situate in the Borough of Palmyra, County of Lebanon and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, being more fully described in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds in and for Lebanon County in Record Book 2071, Page 8148,  owned or reputed to be owned by you.  The claims docketed at 2016-01722 and 2021-00390 are filed against 233 East Maple Street.  The claims docketed at 2017-00934 and 2021-00391 are filed against 235 East Maple Street.

 

These claims are still due and unpaid, and remain liens against the said properties.  NOW, you are hereby notified to file your affidavits of defense to said claims, if defenses you have thereto, in the office of the Prothonotary of our said Court, within fifteen days after the service of this writ upon you.  If no affidavit of defense be filed within said time, judgment may be entered against you for the whole claims, and the properties described in the claims be sold to recover the amount thereof.

 

 

Jason M. Hess, Esquire

Morgan, Hallgren, Crosswell & Kane, P.C.

P.O. Box 4686

Lancaster, PA  17604-4686

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUDGES OPINION

 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Giamo Inocencio Lao

 

Criminal Action-Constitutional Law-Omnibus Pretrial Motion-Suppression of Evidence-Vehicle Stop-Traffic Violation-Investigative Detention-Termination of Initial Valid Traffic Stop-Suspicion of Impaired Driving-Passage of Field Sobriety Tests-Reasonable Suspicion-Canine Sniff

 

Giamo Inocencio Lao (“Defendant”) was charged with drug related charges including simple possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia following a search of his vehicle after a stop of his vehicle initially undertaken for crossing the white fog line and the double yellow lines with both side tires and later for suspicion of driving under impairment despite passing field sobriety tests administered.  Defendant filed an Omnibus Pretrial Motion seeking suppression of evidence and statements on the basis that the continuation of detention and search of his vehicle without a warrant following his passage of field sobriety testing was unlawful.

 

  1. Pennsylvania law makes clear that a police officer has probable cause to stop a motor vehicle if the officer observes a traffic code violation, even if the violation is minor.

 

  1. A traffic stop is considered to be an investigative detention rather than a custodial detention.

 

  1. An investigative detention does not require that a defendant be advised of rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) prior to questioning.

 

  1. Where the purpose of an initial, valid traffic stop has ended and a reasonable person would believe that he or she is free to leave, the law characterizes a subsequent round of questioning by a police officer as a mere encounter.

 

  1. Where the purpose of an initial, valid traffic stop has ended and a reasonable person would not believe that he or she were free to leave, the law characterizes a subsequent limitation upon the person’s liberty by police as an investigative detention or arrest.

 

  1. To support a continuation of a traffic stop after its purpose has been achieved, a police officer must possess reasonable suspicion to detain a suspect independent of the traffic stop.

 

  1. Whenever a police officer takes a defendant into custody and subjects the defendant to questioning, the police officer must make the defendant aware of his or her rights pursuant to Miranda, supra.

 

  1. The general test of whether a defendant is in custody is whether the defendant is deprived of his or her freedom of action in any significant way or is placed in a situation in which he or she reasonably believes that his or her freedom or action of movement is restricted by such interrogation.

 

  1. The test depends upon the defendant’s reasonable belief about his or her freedom, not upon the subjective intent of the police officer.

 

  1. While a canine sniff constitutes a search under the Pennsylvania Constitution, a police officer does not need probable cause to conduct that search and instead must possess reasonable suspicion to believe that contraband will be found.

 

  1. It was reasonable for Defendant to believe that his freedom of action was restricted where Defendant asked the police officer to leave several times throughout the stop, the police officer refused the requests to leave despite the fact that Defendant had passed field sobriety testing, the police officer told Defendant he needed to remain until the arrival of a K-9 unit and the police officer continued to question Defendant about his drug use and history.

 

  1. The police officer did not possess reasonable suspicion to support the continued detention of Defendant once the purpose of the initial traffic stop had ended after Defendant had passed field sobriety testing and the police officer had observed no other signs of possible impairment, which necessitates suppression of all evidence resulting from the search.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. CP-38-CR-0001948-2019, Opinion by John C. Tylwalk, President Judge, August 20, 2020.

 

 

 

JUDGES OPINION

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CRIMINAL DIVISION

 

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA        :         NO. CP-38-CR-1948-2019

:

  1.           :

:

GIAMO INOCENCIO LAO                                  :

 

ORDER OF COURT

 

AND NOW, this 20th day of August, 2020, upon consideration of Defendant’s Pretrial Motion to Suppress Evidence, the evidence adduced at the hearing conducted on July 22, 2020, and the Briefs submitted by the parties, it is hereby Ordered that said Motion is GRANTED.  In accordance therewith, it is Ordered that all incriminating evidence, including items seized during the search of Defendant’s vehicle and any and all incriminating statements made by Defendant after the administration of the field sobriety and ARIDE tests on October 8, 2019 are suppressed.

BY THE COURT:

 

                                                                   ________________________, P.J.

                                                                   JOHN C. TYLWALK

 

JCT/jah

 

Cc:  Megan Ryland Tanner, Esquire/Senior Deputy District Attorney

       Vienna Vasquez, Esquire/Assistant Public Defender

       Leslie Fillak/Court Administration

       Judith Huber, Esquire/Law Clerk

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CRIMINAL DIVISION

 

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA        :NO. CP-38-CR-1948-2019

:

  1. :

:

GIAMO INOCENCIO LAO                                  :

 

APPEARANCES:

 

MEGAN RYLAND TANNER, ESQUIRE          FOR THE COMMONWEALTH

SENIOR DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

 

VIENNA VASQUEZ, ESQUIRE                        FOR GIAMO INOCENCIO LAO

ASSISTANT PUBLIC DEFENDER

 

OPINION, TYLWALK, P.J., AUGUST 20, 2020.

 

Defendant is charged with one count of Use/Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, 35 P.S.§780-113(a)(32), Marijuana-Small Amount Personal Use, 35 P.S. §780-113(a)(31)(l), and the summary offense of Disregard Traffic Lane (Single), 75 Pa.C.S.A. §3309(1), after a traffic stop on October 8, 2019 at State Route 343 near Route 22 in Bethel Township, Lebanon County.  He has filed a Pretrial Motion to Suppress Evidence, including any incriminating statements he made and  items which were confiscated during a search of his vehicle.  We conducted a hearing on the Motion on July 22, 2020.  Both parties have filed post-hearing Briefs, and the matter is now before us for disposition.

At the hearing, Trooper Jacob Kelliher of the Pennsylvania State Police, Jonestown Barracks, testified that on the evening of October 8, 2019, he was driving on patrol in a marked State Police vehicle in Bethel Township, Lebanon County and was following Defendant’s vehicle in the area of Route 22 and South Center Street in Bethel Township.  Trooper Kelliher observed Defendant’s vehicle cross the white fog line on the right-hand side with both of his tires two times while traveling on Route 22 eastbound.  When Defendant’s vehicle approached the light at the intersection with Route 343, Defendant made a right-hand turn southbound onto Route 343. As he made the turn, he crossed the double yellow lines with both tires.  At that point, Trooper Kelliher initated a traffic stop as he assumed that Defendant might be driving impaired.

Trooper Kelliher approached Defendant’s vehicle and explained to Defendant why he had initiated the stop.  He noted that a female passenger was also occupying the vehicle.  He asked to see Defendant’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.  During this interaction, Trooper Kelliher noted that Defendant did maintain eye contact with him.  When Trooper Kelliher noted that Defendant’s driver’s license indicated that his home was in West Cornwall Township, he asked Defendant about his route. Defendant replied that he was coming from the Lebanon Walmart.

Trooper Kelliher returned to his police cruiser and ran Defendant’s information through CLEAN/NCIC to check the validity of Defendant’s license.  When he returned to Defendant’s vehicle, he had Defendant exit the vehicle.  At that point, Defendant informed Trooper Kelliher that there was a firearm in the vehicle and that he had a concealed weapon permit.  The firearm was removed from the vehicle by Trooper Kelliher.  Trooper Kelliher asked Defendant whether he had any drugs on his person or in his vehicle or whether he had used illegal drugs that evening and Defendant responded “no.”   When Trooper Kelliher asked him again if he used drugs, Defendant began to smile and again answered in the negative.  Trooper Kelliher asked him why he was smiling and again asked whether he had used illegal drugs.  Defendant responded that he had used drugs in the past, but not recently.  When asked if he had ever been arrested for drug charges, Defendant explained that he did have pending drug charges.  Trooper Kelliher then requested a second police vehicle so that he could perform a standardized field sobriety test on Defendant as he was still concerned that Defendant might be under the influence of drugs.  After administering the tests, Trooper Kelliher determined that Defendant was not driving impaired.

However, based on the circumstances, and after reviewing Defendant’s criminal history which showed recent felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges, Trooper Kelliher explained that he requested a K-9 unit to respond to the scene:

So after I placed Mr. Lao through the standardized field sobriety tests and ARIDE testing, I did not feel that he was impaired during that time; but based on the fact that where I had stopped him and where the Lebanon Walmart was, they are not in the vicinity of each  other.  They’re extreme – they’re a distance apart.  He didn’t have a reason for being out in the area he was in.

 

Originally, he lied to me saying he never used drugs; but then later smiles and says he had used drugs in the past.  And based on his criminal history, I believe there was criminal activity afoot still.

 

(N.T. 7/22/20 at p. 11).

 

Once the K-9 unit arrived, the dog conducted an exterior sniff of the vehicle and Trooper Kelliher was informed that the dog had alerted to the driver’s side door of the vehicle.  Trooper Kelliher then searched the vehicle in which he found drug paraphernalia and marijuana.  Trooper Kelliher reported that the entire traffic stop lasted approximately one and one-half hours.

On cross-examination, Trooper Kelliher acknowledged that he did not give Defendant his Miranda warnings prior to questioning him and that Defendant did not consent to his search of the vehicle.   He further acknowledged that Defendant had passed the field sobriety tests and he had observed no indicia of impairment:  Defendant’s speech was not slurred, he did not have bloodshot eyes, and there was no odor emanating from Defendant’s person or the vehicle.  Trooper Kelliher acknowledged that Defendant was no longer under suspicion of impaired driving when he called for the K-9 unit.  Trooper Kelliher explained that he had probable cause to search Defendant’s vehicle, despite lack of consent, based on the K-9 alert.

Jensen Shanfelder, Defendant’s passenger, also testified at the hearing.  She explained that she and Defendant had just left Walmart and Defendant was driving her to her mother’s home.  Under the curfew imposed by her mother, she had to be home by 10:00 p.m.  She recalled that Trooper Kelliher had explained that he had stopped the vehicle due to Defendant swerving.  Shanfelder explained that after Defendant had passed the field sobriety tests, Trooper Kelliher continued to ask him if he had anything in the car or whether the two had been smoking to which they responded “no. ”  When Defendant did not consent to Trooper Kelliher’s repeated requests to search the car, they were told that a K-9 unit would be called.  She related that she was nervous about making it home in time for her curfew and  Defendant asked Trooper Kelliher two to three times if they could leave.   Trooper Kelliher denied these requests[1] and told them they would have to wait for the K-9 unit to arrive.  Jensen recalled that it took around forty-five minutes for the K-9 unit to arrive and that they did not reach her mother’s home until approximately 10:30 to 11:00 p.m.

In his Motion, Defendant argues that the continuation of his detention once he had passed the field sobriety and ARIDE testing was unlawful and that the evidence obtained thereafter should be suppressed.  After careful consideration of the circumstances of this case, we agree.

As pointed out by the Commonwealth, the initial basis for the traffic stop of Defendant for the offense of Driving on Roadways Laned for Traffic[2] is not at issue here. Pennsylvania law makes clear that a police officer has probable cause to stop a motor vehicle if the officer observes a traffic code violation, even if it is a minor offense. Commonwealth v. Chase, 960 A.2d 108 (Pa. 2008).  During a traffic stop, an officer may order the driver out of the vehicle in the course of conducting the stop.  Commonwealth v. Dales, 820 A.2d 807 (Pa. Super. 2003).  Trooper Kelliher testified that he observed Defendant cross the white fog line and the double yellow line of South Center Street with both side tires and his issuance of the citation for the summary offense was appropriate.

The issue for our consideration is whether Trooper Kelliher had justification for extending the proper traffic stop beyond its initial purpose.  A traffic stop is considered an investigative rather than a custodial detention.  In re: A.A., 195 A.3d 896, 901 (Pa. 2018).  Investigatory detentions do not require that a defendant be advised of his Miranda rights prior to questioning.  Commonwealth v. Pakacki, 901 A.2d 983, 988 (Pa. 2006).   Where the purpose of an initial, valid traffic stop has ended and a reasonable person would have believed that he was free to leave, the law characterizes a subsequent round of questioning by the officer as a mere encounter.  Commonwealth v. Dales, 820 A.2d 807 (Pa. Super. 2003).   Since the citizen is free to leave, he is not detained, and the police are free to ask questions appropriate to a mere encounter, including a request for permission to search the vehicle.  Id.  To support a continuation of the stop after its purpose has been achieved, a police officer must possess a reasonable suspicion to detain a suspect independent of the traffic stop.  Commonwealth v. Green, 168 A.3d 180, 184 (Pa. Super. 2017).

[T]o establish grounds for reasonable suspicion, the officer must articulate specific observations which, in conjunction with reasonable inferences derived from those observations, led him reasonably to conclude, in light of his experience, that criminal activity was afoot and that the person he stopped was involved in that activity.  The question of whether reasonable suspicion existed at the time [the officer conducted the stop] must be answered by examining the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the officer who initiated the stop had a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the individual stopped. Therefore, the fundamental inquiry of a reviewing court must be an objective one, namely, whether the facts available to the officer at the moment of the [stop] warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the action taken was appropriate.

 

Commonwealth v. Basinger, 982 A.2d 121, 125 (Pa. Super. 2009) (internal citations and quotations omitted).  This inquiry will not be satisfied by an officer’s hunch or unparticularized suspicion.  Commonwealth v. Reppert, 814 A.2d 1196, 1204 (Pa. Super. 2002).  In the absence of either reasonable suspicion to support the investigative detention or probable cause to support the arrest, the citizen is considered unlawfully detained.  Commonwealth v. Dales, supra. 

Where the purpose of an initial traffic stop has ended and a reasonable person would not have believed that he was free to leave, the law characterizes a subsequent limitation on the suspect’s liberty by the police as an investigative detention or arrest.  Commonwealth v. By, 812 A.2d 1250, 1256 (Pa. Super. 2002).  Whenever police have a defendant in custody and subject him to questioning, the police must make the defendant aware of his rights against self-incrimination.  Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478 (1966).  The analysis of whether a defendant is in custody is fact-specific and must be made on a case-by-case basis.  Commonwealth v. DeJesus, 787 A.2d 394 (Pa. 2001).  The general test in determining whether or not an individual is in custody is

Whether he is physically deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way or is placed in a situation in which he reasonably believes that his freedom of action of movement is restricted by such interrogation.

 

Commonwealth v. Medley, 612 A.2d 430, 433 (Pa. 1992).  The test does not depend on the subjective intent of the law enforcement officer, but rather upon what the suspect reasonably believes about his freedom of movement.  Commonwealth v. Sepulveda, 855 A.2d 753 (Pa. 2004).

We believe it was reasonable for Defendant to believe that his freedom of action was restricted under the circumstances of this incident.  Defendant asked Trooper Kelliher permission to leave several times throughout the stop, so that Shandfelder could make it home in time for her curfew.  Even though Defendant had passed the field sobriety and ARIDE tests, he was refused permission to leave and was told he was required to remain until the K-9 unit arrived, which took forty-five minutes.  Although he did not advise Defendant of his Miranda rights, Trooper Kelliher continued to question Defendant about his drug use and history. Thus, we find that Defendant should have received his Miranda warnings.  Because he did not, any incriminating statements made by him as a result of this unlawful detention must be suppressed.

A canine sniff constitutes a search under Article I, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.  Commonwealth v. Rogers, 849 A.2d 1185, 1190 (Pa. 2004).  However, since a canine search is less instrusive than other searches, police officers do not need probable cause to conduct such a search.  Instead, they need only reasonable suspicion to believe that narcotics will be found.  Commonwealth v. Johnston, 530 A.2d 74, 79 (Pa. 1987).

After reviewing the facts of this case, we conclude that Trooper Kelliher did not possess a reasonable suspicion to support the continued detention of Defendant once the purpose of the initial traffic stop had ended.  Once Defendant had passed the field sobriety and ARIDE tests and Trooper Kelliher had observed no other signs of his possible impairment, the purpose of the initial traffic stop, i.e., to see whether Defendant was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and to charge him with a summary offense for crossing over the road lines, was complete.   Trooper Kelliher had been provided with Defendant’s documentation and determined that his driver’s license was valid.  Defendant exhibited no signs of impairment and passed the field sobriety and ARIDE testing.  At that point, Trooper Kelliher should have issued a citation to Defendant and permitted him to leave.  However, he proceeded to conduct a second round of questioning about his drug use, his history of drug use and any prior charges for drug-related offenses and to require Defendant to remain on the scene for the canine search.

The Commonwealth argues that this was justified by what it terms as Defendant’s nonsensical representation of his travels that evening (that he was returning from the Lebanon Walmart when the location was a significant distance from Walmart and in the opposite direction of Defendant’s home) and Defendant’s response to Trooper Kelliher’s follow-up questioning that he was just driving around. The Commonwealth also argues that Defendant appeared nervous, did not make eye contact, lied about his criminal history until confronted with it, and gave a “bizarre” justification for swerving – that he was trying to figure out if Trooper Kelliher was a cop.

While Defendant’s behavior may be viewed as confusing, and while we conclude that this behavior supported the Trooper’s investigation of a possible DUI, we do not find that these circumstances rose to the level of reasonable suspicion for Trooper Kelliher to believe that Defendant was involved in additional criminal activity.  We agree that Defendant’s remarks that he was trying to determine if Trooper Kelliher was a cop made no sense as Trooper Kelliher was driving a marked police vehicle; however, there was no evidence that Defendant attempted to evade Trooper Kelliher as he followed Defendant’s vehicle.  Also, contrary to the Commonwealth’s contentions, Trooper Kelliher testified at the hearing that Defendant did not appear to be nervous and maintained eye contact with him during the stop.  There was no evidence that Trooper Kelliher observed anything suspicious about Defendant’s vehicle or saw anything to suggest drug use or the presence of illegal drugs.  When Trooper Kelliher reapproached the vehicle after taking Defendant’s documentation, Defendant voluntarily informed Trooper Kelliher that he had a firearm in the vehicle and that he had a concealed carry permit.

Trooper Kelliher testified that his suspicions initially arose when he saw that Defendant’s driver’s license had a West Cornwall Township address which was some distance from the location of the stop.    The Commonwealth cites several cases, Commonwealth v. Benitez, 218 A.3d 460 (Pa. Super. 2019) and Commonwealth v. Freeman, 150 A.3d 32 (Pa. Super. 2016), to support the argument that a shifting narrative of travels constitutes reasonable suspicion.  In Benitez, the officer observed various conditions of the vehicle which indicated a lack of personal connection to the vehicle in addition to his knowledge that the defendant’s Philadelphia/New York City route was a known route for drug trafficking.  In Freeman, the vehicle had been rented for a long trip with a quick turn-around time, also pointing to a typical means of drug trafficking.  There was no such evidence here.  There was nothing suspicious about Defendant’s vehicle and the documentation had established a personal connection to him.  In this case, there was no testimony or inference that there was anything suspicious about Defendant driving in that location or that the area was known to be a destination or route for drug sales or trafficking.

Trooper Kelliher also pointed to Defendant’s initial dishonesty about his drug-related criminal history, and Defendant smiling when he acknowledged his prior history when confronted with Trooper Kelliher’s knowledge.  While Defendant was less than candid, we cannot say that it provided Trooper Kelliher with more than a hunch of Defendant’s involvement in criminal conduct at the time of the stop.  Thus, we find that the prolonging of the traffic stop constituted an unlawful detention, and that Trooper Kelliher lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the canine search and probable cause to conduct the unauthorized search of Defendant’s vehicle.  Therefore, all evidence unlawfully obtained as a result of Defendant’s continued detention, including Defendant’s statements as well as the drug paraphernalia and marijuana, must be suppressed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] We find the Trooper’s response to these requests to be quite troubling.  There was no legal justification to deny them.

[2] 75 Pa.C.S.A. §3309(1).

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