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[U] Commonwealth v. Ray

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 4, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellant
v.
BRIAN ANTHONY RAY, Appellee

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order entered May 14, 2013, in the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, Criminal Division, at No(s): CP-07-CR-0001364-2012

BEFORE: BOWES, ALLEN, and MUSMANNO, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

ALLEN, J.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ("Commonwealth") appeals from the trial court order granting the suppression motion filed by Appellee, Brian Anthony Ray ("Ray"). We affirm.

The trial court summarized the pertinent facts as follows:
On May 12, 2012, at around 3:00 A.M., Officer Crist of the Altoona Police Department arrived at the Sheetz gas station on 13th Street in Altoona, Pa in response to a 911 anonymous call complaining of a number of African Americans yelling racial epithets at each other. The 911 caller identified a silver car and blue SUV as belonging to the offending individuals. Officer Crist did not view any unlawful behavior upon arriving at the Sheetz. He did, however, view a silver car and a blue SUV, both legally parked in parking spots. Officer Crist testified that for his own safety, he parked his police cruiser directly behind the silver car and activated his overhead lights. Officer Crist then exited his police cruiser and approached [Ray] in the driver's seat of the silver car. During their brief conversation, Officer Crist testified that [Ray] appeared nervous, rubbing his thighs repeatedly and sticking his hands into his pockets multiple times when asked for identification. Officer Snyder, who appeared soon after Officer Crist made contact with [Ray], testified that he viewed [Ray] breathing heavily through the passenger side window. Based on his knowledge that this particular Sheetz is a high crime area at that time of night and because [Ray] was acting nervous, Officer Crist asked [Ray] to exit the car. He and Officer Snyder then executed a pat down, during which they [retrieved a clear plastic bag of a white substance they believed to be cocaine. Additionally, Officer Snyder observed a bag in the cup holder of Ray's vehicle that was similar to the bag found on Ray's person].

Trial Court Opinion, 5/10/13, at 1-2; N.T., 3/21/13, at 42.

Ray was arrested and subsequently charged with conspiracy, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, receiving stolen property, carrying a firearm without a license, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while operating privileges were suspended, driving without a license, and unauthorized use of an automobile. On November 8, 2012, Ray filed a motion to suppress evidence gathered as a result of his encounter with the police. The trial court conducted a hearing on March 21, 2013, and on May 10, 2013, entered an order granting Ray's suppression motion.[1] The Commonwealth filed a notice of appeal on June 6, 2013, certifying that the trial court order would terminate or substantially handicap its prosecution of Ray's case.

The Commonwealth raises the following issues on appeal:
1. Did the Trial Court/Common Pleas Court err in suppressing the evidence found in the rental vehicle when [Ray] had no legitimate expectation of privacy to that vehicle?
2. Did the Trial Court/Common Pleas Court err in suppressing the evidence found on [Ray's] person and in the rental vehicle based on the police stop?
3. Did the Trial Court/Common Pleas Court err in suppressing the evidence found in the rental vehicle as the evidence would have been ...

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