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156376 - People v Larry Gerald Mead

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Jerrold Schrotenboer

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Jackson – Wilson, T.)

 

Larry Gerald Mead,

 

Michael A. Faraone

 

Defendant-Appellant.

 

Summary

Police officers stopped a car for an expired license plate.  One officer noticed that the front seat passenger (defendant Larry Mead) was clutching a backpack on his lap, leading the officer to believe that it belonged to defendant.  After deciding not to arrest the driver, the officers discussed with each other their concerns about how defendant was holding the backpack and they decided to ask the driver for consent to conduct a search of the car.  Out of defendant’s presence, the officers spoke to the driver and obtained her consent.  When asked by the officers to step out of the car, defendant did so, leaving the backpack on the passenger seat floorboard.  Without asking defendant for consent to search the backpack, the officers searched it and found methamphetamine.

     

Defendant was arrested and charged with possession of less than 50 grams of a controlled substance.  At a preliminary examination to establish whether there was probable cause for defendant to be bound over for trial, the district court judge bound defendant over for trial, finding sufficient evidence that he possessed the methamphetamine in the backpack based on his act of clutching the backpack on his lap.  Defendant filed in the circuit court a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the officers had violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches.  The trial court denied the motion, without taking any testimony. 

    

At his jury trial, defendant chose to represent himself.  Responding to defendant’s claim that he had tried to step out of the car with the backpack, the officer who conducted the search testified that he did not recall this and believed defendant left it inside the car voluntarily.  The police car’s dashcam video of the incident was played for the jury; it showed the officer speaking to the driver behind her car and away from defendant, but the audio was unclear regarding what was said. 

      

The jury convicted defendant and he was sentenced to serve 2 to 10 years in prison.  The Michigan Court of Appeals has twice affirmed defendant’s conviction and sentence.  Defendant has filed an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court.