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[U] Commonwealth v. Redmond

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 6, 2014



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered April 18, 2012, In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at No. CP-51-CR-0011387-2008.




Appellant, Zonte L. Redmond, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered on April 18, 2012, and challenges the ruling denying his motion to suppress. We affirm.

The suppression court set forth the relevant facts of this case as follows:

On October 5, 2007, Sergeant Robert Fril, badge number 578, received information from Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") agents pertaining to a forecasted narcotics transaction. N.T. 6/21/2011 at 7-8. Sergeant Fril was informed that an individual named Zonte Redmond was expected to sell 4.5 ounces of cocaine at 73rd and Elmwood Street next to a bowling alley. Id. at 8. Additionally, Mr. Redmond would be operating a gray Ford Explorer. Id. The DEA agents received the specific information from an individual in custody who was cooperating. Id.
Based upon the information received, Sergeant Fril, along with fellow officers, traveled to 7300 Elmwood Street at approximately 12:30 p.m. Id. at 9. Upon arrival Sergeant Fril observed a gray Ford Explorer parked on Elmwood Street on the side of a bowling alley. Id. Police Officer Wade immediately identified the driver as Zonte Redmond, with whom he was familiar. N.T. 6/21/2011 at 15. Sergeant Fril then maneuvered his vehicle in front of the Appellant's Ford Explorer. Id. at 9. Sergeant Fril and Officer Wade exited their vehicle and identified themselves to the Appellant as they approached him. Id. The Appellant then executed a U-Turn and drove across oncoming traffic, onto a sidewalk at a high rate of speed. Id. 11. Sergeant Fril and Officer Wade pursued the Appellant by vehicle. Id. at 12. Sergeant Fril received information from back-up officers that the Appellant discarded a white object from his vehicle into a field. Id. at 12. Sergeant Fril traveled to the described area and recovered a clear plastic bag containing cocaine. N.T. 6/21/2011 at 12.

Trial Court Opinion, 3/19/13, at 1-2. Appellant evaded the police on that date, but was subsequently arrested on a warrant on October 23, 2007 at his home in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania.

Prior to trial, Appellant filed a motion to suppress the physical evidence thrown from the vehicle. Following a hearing, Appellant's motion to suppress was denied on June 21, 2011. Appellant proceeded to trial on June 22, 2011, during which a jury deadlock resulted in the declaration of a mistrial on June 23, 2011. On March 29, 2012, following a jury retrial, Appellant was found guilty of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and fleeing or attempting to elude officers. On April 18, 2012, Appellant was sentenced to seven and one-half to fifteen years of incarceration. Appellant filed a post-sentence motion that was denied on June 22, 2012. On July 23, 2012, Appellant timely filed an appeal. Appellant filed a statement pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b), and the trial court filed a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinion.

Appellant presents the following issue for our review:
I. Did the lower court err when it found that there was an "investigative detention" based on the facts presented instead of finding that there was an arrest which required probable cause thus making the discarding of the evidence a result of coerced abandonment?

Appellant's Brief at 3.

Appellant argues that the suppression court wrongfully found that the stop of Appellant was an investigative detention and not an arrest. Appellant's Brief at 12. Appellant maintains that the police actions constituted an arrest or seizure and, thus, required probable cause. Id. at 13. It is Appellant's position that the information upon which police acted was equivalent to an anonymous tip and, thus, did not provide officers with reasonable suspicion to stop Appellant. Id. at 19. When the officers arrived and observed the vehicle, there was no other indication that criminal activity was afoot. Id. Therefore, Appellant asserts, police had no basis to conduct an investigatory detention and lacked probable cause to ...

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