An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA03-737


Filed: 20 April 2004


    v.                            Nash County
                                Nos. 01 CRS 54998-99

    Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 27 January 2003 by Judge Quentin T. Sumner in Superior Court, Nash County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 22 March 2004.

    Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Deputy Attorney General Robert T. Hargett, for the State.

    Margaret Creasy Ciardella for defendant appellant.

    WYNN, Judge.

    By this appeal, Defendant, Richard McKinley Taylor, contends the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. We affirm the trial court's determination.
    The evidence at the suppression hearing tended to show the following: On the afternoon of 22 August 2001, North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Dean Edwards observed a silver-colored Honda Civic automobile speeding and weaving in and out of traffic on U.S. Highway 301 near Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Trooper Edwards stopped the vehicle and asked the driver, later identified as Defendant, for his driver's license and registration. Trooper Edwards noticed “a really strong, heavy perfume smell” emanatingfrom the vehicle. Defendant appeared “extremely nervous” and avoided making eye conduct with Trooper Edwards. Defendant's hands shook as he handed his driver's license to Trooper Edwards. When Trooper Edwards again requested the registration, Defendant hesitated and then “made an unusual movement” in turning towards the vehicle's glove compartment, thereby blocking Trooper Edwards' view. Trooper Edwards, concerned that Defendant was retrieving a weapon, moved to regain sight of the glove compartment. In doing so, Trooper Edwards observed “a large amount of U.S. currency in a bag” in the glove compartment. Defendant quickly shuffled papers over the bag and closed the glove compartment.
    Trooper Edwards asked Defendant to step out of the vehicle, and Defendant consented to a pat-down of his person. No weapons or contraband were found on Defendant. Trooper Edwards subsequently requested that Defendant accompany him back to the patrol vehicle. After Trooper Edwards issued Defendant a warning and returned his driver's license and registration, Trooper Edwards inquired whether there was “anything illegal in the car.” Defendant responded that he did not know, because the vehicle belonged to his father. Defendant refused Trooper Edwards' request to search the interior of the vehicle.
    Based on his drug interdiction training and four years of experience with the Highway Patrol, Trooper Edwards believed that the large amount of currency in Defendant's glove compartment, Defendant's nervous demeanor, and the strong odor of perfume emanating from the vehicle were “indicative of and consistent with”drug trafficking. Trooper Edwards therefore requested that an officer with a trained canine respond to the scene.
    Approximately fifteen minutes later, Officer Joyner and his canine arrived. The canine “gave an alert” to the presence of narcotics at the front passenger's side door of Defendant's vehicle. To ensure the safety of his dog, Officer Joyner requested that Trooper Edwards remove some fast-food items located on the front seat before allowing the canine to enter the vehicle. As Trooper Edwards removed the food, he noticed what appeared to be crack cocaine at the bottom of the fast-food bag. In the glove compartment, Trooper Edwards found a small amount of marijuana and rolling papers, as well as the large amount of currency. Defendant was thereafter arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine by possession, trafficking in cocaine by transportation, possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
    The trial court denied Defendant's motion to suppress all evidence seized during the traffic stop. The trial court concluded, based on the totality of the circumstances involved, that the search was reasonable, that Trooper Edwards had an articulable suspicion to order the canine, and that once the canine alerted to the presence of contraband, Trooper Edwards and Officer Joyner had probable cause to search the vehicle.
    After the trial court denied his motion to suppress, Defendant pled guilty to the charges and preserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion pursuant to section 15A-979(b) of the NorthCarolina General Statutes. State v. Brown, 142 N.C. App. 491, 492, 543 S.E.2d 192 (2001). Defendant appeals from the denial of his motion to suppress.
    Defendant contends the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. A “trial court's findings of fact following a suppression hearing concerning the search of the defendant's vehicle are conclusive and binding on the appellate courts when supported by competent evidence.” State v. Brooks, 337 N.C. 132, 140-41, 446 S.E.2d 579, 585 (1994). However, a trial court's conclusions of law regarding whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to detain a defendant is reviewable de novo. State v. Munoz, 141 N.C. App. 675, 682, 541 S.E.2d 218, 222, cert. denied, 353 N.C. 454, 548 S.E.2d 534 (2001). “An appellate court accords great deference to the trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress because the trial court is entrusted with the duty to hear testimony (thereby observing the demeanor of the witnesses) and to weigh and resolve any conflicts in the evidence.” State v. Johnston, 115 N.C. App. 711, 713, 446 S.E.2d 135, 137 (1994).
    Defendant does not argue that the initial stop for speeding was unwarranted. Rather, Defendant argues his detention after the issuance of the warning ticket was invalid because it was not based on a reasonable and articulable suspicion that he was involved in criminal activity. We disagree.
    Detentions permitted by the Fourth Amendment include “brief investigatory detentions such as those involved in the stopping ofa vehicle.” State v. Watkins, 337 N.C. 437, 441, 446 S.E.2d 67, 70 (1994). “'The scope of the detention must be carefully tailored to its underlying justification.'” State v. Morocco, 99 N.C. App. 421, 427-28, 393 S.E.2d 545, 549 (1990) (quoting Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 500, 75 L. Ed. 2d 229, 238 (1983)). To further detain a person after a lawful stop, “an officer must have reasonable suspicion, based on specific and articulable facts, that criminal activity is afoot.” State v. McClendon, 350 N.C. 630, 636, 517 S.E.2d 128, 132 (1999). These facts, as well as the rational inferences drawn from them, are to be “viewed through the eyes of a reasonable, cautious officer, guided by his experience and training” at the time. Watkins, 337 N.C. at 441, 446 S.E.2d at 70. In determining whether further detention was reasonable, the trial court must consider the totality of the circumstances. Munoz, 141 N.C. App. at 682, 541 S.E.2d at 222.
    In McClendon, the defendant was observed speeding and following another vehicle too closely. An officer spoke with the defendant, who appeared extremely nervous and who was unable to find the vehicle's registration or identify the vehicle's owner. The address on the defendant's license matched that of the registration, but the name specified by the defendant as the vehicle's owner did not appear on the title. McClendon, 350 N.C. at 636-37, 517 S.E.2d at 133. The officer issued a warning ticket for speeding and following too closely. After the defendant refused to consent to a search, the officers performed a canine sniff of the vehicle's exterior, and the canine “alerted” to therear of the defendant's vehicle. A subsequent search of the vehicle's floorboard revealed a quantity of marijuana. Id. at 633- 34, 517 S.E.2d at 131.
    Our Supreme Court concluded that the detention of the defendant subsequent to the issuance of the warning ticket was justified by a reasonable suspicion. The Court noted that the officer's suspicion was based on facts observed by the officer during the traffic stop, such as the defendant's nervousness, refusal to make eye contact and other factors. Id. at 637, 517 S.E.2d at 133.
    In the instant case, we conclude that the detention of Defendant was lawful. Trooper Edwards, guided by his previous training and experience, could reasonably conclude that Defendant was involved in drug trafficking. This conclusion is supported by the following facts known by Trooper Edwards to be indicative of illegal drug activity: (1) Defendant appeared extremely nervous and his hands were shaking; (2) Defendant avoided eye contact with Trooper Edwards; (3) Trooper Edwards noticed a strong odor of perfume emanating from the vehicle; and (4) Trooper Edwards observed a large amount of cash in the glove compartment, which Defendant attempted to conceal. Accordingly, the circumstances in the present case provided Trooper Edwards with reasonable suspicion to support a further brief detention of Defendant following issuance of the warning ticket. The trial court properly denied Defendant's motion to suppress.
    Affirmed.    Judges HUNTER and McCULLOUGH concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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