Appeal from the 248th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1440970
consists of Justices Jennings, Keyes, and Higley.
Carter Higley Justice
Andreas Marcopoulos, was charged by indictment with
possession of less than one gram of cocaine. Following a
motion to suppress, Appellant pleaded guilty, and the trial
court placed Appellant on deferred adjudication with
community supervision for three years. On appeal, Appellant
argued the trial court abused its discretion by denying his
motion to suppress the admission of drugs found in a
warrantless search of his truck. The State argued Appellant
lacked standing to challenge the search. In an earlier
opinion, we held that Appellant had standing to challenge the
warrantless search of his vehicle. We upheld the trial
court's denial of the motion to suppress, applying the
automobile exception to the requirement of obtaining a search
warrant in one opinion. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed
our judgment, holding that the search was not permissible
under the automobile exception to a search
warrant. The court remanded the case back to this
Court to review Appellant's remaining grounds for
challenging the validity of the search of his truck.
reverse and remand.
September 10, 2014, Officer J. Oliver was performing
surveillance on a bar in Houston, Texas known for narcotics
sales. Officer Oliver observed Appellant drive up to the bar
in a truck, enter the bar, and leave within three to five
minutes. After Appellant left the bar, Officer Oliver
followed him. He saw Appellant change lanes without signaling
and asked for a uniformed officer to perform a traffic stop.
T. Villa was working that evening with Officer Rogers. They
received Officer Oliver's request to stop Appellant.
Officer Villa drove up behind Appellant while he was stopped
in a left turn lane. Appellant did not signal his turn until
after he began to turn. Officer Villa activated his emergency
lights. Appellant immediately pulled into a gas station and
Villa removed Appellant from the truck and "pretty much
immediately" placed him under arrest. As Officer Villa
took Appellant to the patrol car, Officer Rogers began to
search Appellant's car. Officer Villa described this as
an inventory of the car because the car was going to be
impounded. He testified that the inventory was necessary
because departmental procedure requires that all vehicles be
impounded when the driver is arrested.
Villa searched Appellant, placed Appellant's belongings
on the hood of the patrol car, and placed Appellant in the
patrol car. He testified that he then helped Officer Rogers
search Appellant's truck. Officer Rogers found two
baggies containing cocaine in the truck. Officer Villa then
returned to the patrol car, looked through Appellant's
wallet, and found another baggie of cocaine.
trial, Appellant filed a motion to suppress. Officers Oliver
and Villa testified at the hearing on the motion. Officer
Rogers was not present. At the conclusion of the hearing, the
trial court denied the motion to suppress. The same day,
Appellant pleaded guilty to the offense, subject to his right
to appeal the denial of the motion.
issues, Appellant argues the trial court abused its
discretion by denying his motion to suppress evidence
obtained from searching the truck.
Standard of Review
review a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress
under a bifurcated standard of review. Turrubiate v.
State, 399 S.W.3d 147, 150 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013). We
review the trial court's factual findings for abuse of
discretion and review the trial court's application of
the law to the facts de novo. Id. Almost total
deference should be given to a trial court's
determination of historical facts, especially those based on
an evaluation of witness credibility or demeanor.
Gonzales v. State, 369 S.W.3d 851, 854 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2012). At a suppression hearing, the trial court is the
sole and exclusive trier of fact and judge of the
witnesses' credibility and may choose to believe or
disbelieve all or any part of the witnesses' testimony.
Maxwell v. State, 73 S.W.3d 278, 281 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2002); State v. Ross, 32 S.W.3d 853, 855 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2000).
as here, a trial judge does not make explicit findings of
fact, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to
the trial court's ruling. Walter v. State, 28
S.W.3d 538, 540 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000). We will defer to the
trial court's fact findings and not disturb the findings
on appeal unless the trial court abused its discretion in
making a finding not supported by the record. See Cantu
v. State, 817 S.W.2d 74, 77 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991).
four issues challenge (1) whether the search of his truck fit
within the inventory-search exception to obtaining a search
warrant, (2) whether the search could properly be
characterized as an inventory-search, (3) whether the Houston
Police Department's inventory search requirements ...