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Commonwealth v. Boyles

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

October 24, 2014


Submitted September 29, 2014

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County. Criminal Division at No(s): CP-10-CR-0001344-2013. Before SHAFFER, J.

Christine W. Studeny, Butler, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Joseph L. Smith, Butler, for appellee.

Michael S. Ferguson, Harrisburg, for State System of Higher Ed., participating party.



Page 592


Appellant, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, appeals from the order entered in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, granting the suppression motion of Appellee, Randall Boyles, III. We affirm.

The relevant facts and procedural history of this appeal are as follows. Kiester Road is an east-west road in Butler County. A portion of Kiester Road runs through Slippery Rock University, with campus grounds abutting the north and south sides of the road. The university, however, does not own or maintain Kiester Road.

On April 27, 2013, Slippery Rock University Police Officer Frank Davis set up a " speed trap" for vehicles traveling along a segment of Kiester Road that is abutted by campus grounds on both sides. (N.T. Suppression Hearing, 2/20/14, at 6). Specifically, Officer Davis sat in a stationary position next to the university police department, which is located on the campus grounds abutting the south side of Kiester Road. Officer Davis used an " AccuTrack" device to monitor the speed of passing motorists. (Id. at 4). At 12:18 a.m., Appellee's black sedan traveled eastbound on Kiester Road and proceeded through the speed trap. Officer Davis tracked Appellee's vehicle as traveling forty-three (43) miles per hour, in violation of the posted speed limit. Officer Davis followed Appellee's vehicle, activated the emergency lights on his patrol car, and conducted a traffic stop. Appellee pulled over near the Pine Glenn Apartments, on a stretch of Kiester Road that is abutted by the university on the north side only.[1]

During the stop, Officer Davis asked Appellee for his driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance, but Appellee could not produce these items. Officer Davis returned to his patrol vehicle to verify Appellee's name and date of birth. At that point, another officer at the scene, Officer Haslett, motioned for Officer Davis to return to Appellee's vehicle. Officer Haslett stated that Appellee had been reaching for something in the back seat, underneath a book bag. Officer Davis looked into the vehicle and saw bottles of wine and liquor in the back. Officer Davis asked Appellee if he had been drinking, but Appellee stated he had not. While speaking with Appellee, Officer Davis observed the odor of alcohol. After administering field sobriety tests, Officer Davis arrested Appellee for driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance (" DUI" ). While at the university police department, Appellee consented to a breath test. The test revealed Appellee's blood alcohol content was 0.110%.

On August 26, 2013, the Commonwealth filed a criminal information charging Appellee with two (2) counts of DUI and one (1) count of the summary offense of driving in excess of twenty-five miles per hour in a " residence" district. On January 10, 2014, Appellee filed an omnibus pretrial motion to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop. In it, Appellee relied on Commonwealth v. Durso, 2013 PA Super 223, 86 A.3d 865 (Pa.Super. 2013), for the proposition that campus police at state-owned universities have " limited jurisdiction which only permits their police powers to be exercised on university owned property." [2]

Page 593

(Suppression Motion, filed 1/10/14, at 2). Appellee maintained that Officer Davis conducted the traffic stop off campus; thus, the officer " was acting outside of his jurisdiction and did not have the legal authority to initiate a traffic stop...." (Id.)

The court conducted a suppression hearing on February 20, 2014. On March 21, 2014, the court granted Appellee's suppression motion, concluding:

Counsel for the Commonwealth argued that in Durso, the Superior Court overlooked 24 P.S. § 20-2019-A and 42 [Pa.C.S.A.] § 8953. Counsel also argued that it is ludicrous to believe a Slippery Rock University police officer ...

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