NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 16, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment No. 11-11-1015.
Jennifer Webb-McRae, Cumberland County Prosecutor, attorney for appellant (Charles J. Wettstein, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for respondent (Susan Remis Silver, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Parrillo and Guadagno.
By leave granted, the State appeals from the August 21, 2012 order granting defendant Charles McCoy's motion to suppress drugs recovered during a search of a motor vehicle. The State also appeals from the December 3, 2012 order denying its motion for reconsideration. We affirm both orders.
We glean the following facts from the record. On August 4, 2011, New Jersey State Troopers Munyon and Tortella were on general road patrol in a marked car. At approximately 1:30 a.m., Munyon saw a white car traveling in the opposite direction. As the car approached an intersection, the left blinker was activated but the car proceeded through the intersection without turning or coming to a complete stop at the stop sign.
Trooper Munyon made a U-turn, activated his overhead lights, and pulled the vehicle over. The driver identified herself as Dominique Ziegler and the passenger in the front seat was later identified as defendant Charles McCoy. Ziegler provided all required credentials and asked why she had been stopped. Munyon testified that he noticed Ziegler's eyes were bloodshot and detected the odor of burnt marijuana coming from the interior of the car. Munyon asked Ziegler to get out of the car and performed field sobriety tests. Although Ziegler passed the sobriety tests, Munyon placed her under arrest "for reference of odor of burnt marijuana." Ziegler was searched, handcuffed, and placed in the back of the trooper car.
Trooper Tortella approached the passenger side of the car and after identifying defendant, placed him under arrest for the same offense. Having searched both occupants without finding drugs, Munyon sought Ziegler's consent to search the car. She refused. Munyon then contacted his dispatcher and requested a tow truck for the car.
Although unmarried, Ziegler and McCoy are the parents of twins who, at the time, were three years old. Ziegler expressed concern about them and whether the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) would be notified. Munyon informed Ziegler that the car would be towed and he intended to apply for a warrant to search her car.
Ziegler and McCoy, who are both approximately six feet tall and weigh between 240 and 250 pounds, remained handcuffed in the back of the trooper car until the tow truck arrived at 2:22 a.m. Ziegler complained that her handcuffs were too tight and she was in "extreme pain" due to a prior injury to her hand, but her request to have the handcuffs loosened ...