from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Mary Pat
McFadden appeals his conviction of possession of a controlled
substance with intent to deliver. REVERSED AND
Blair III of Blair & Fitzsimmons, P.C., Dubuque, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary Miller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Doyle, J., and Mahan, S.J.
VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
McFadden appeals his conviction for possession of a
controlled substance (marijuana) with intent to deliver. He
argues the district court should have granted his motion to
suppress evidence gained in a stop of his vehicle and search
of a backpack inside the vehicle.
Background Facts and Proceedings
pertinent facts may be gleaned from the suppression
transcript, a police dash-camera recording of the traffic
stop, and audio clips captured on an officer's body
microphone. Those facts are as follows.
"summer enforcement team" with the Des Moines
Police Department followed a vehicle through several turns
and stopped it in the driveway of a house for having "a
film on the license plate" that "kind of interfered
with [his] headlights and created a glare, " rendering
one of the letters "on the license plate . . . not
clearly legible." An officer "[m]ade contact with
the driver, Johnny McFadden, and asked for his driver's
license, registration, and insurance." He observed two
adult men inside and "a backpack wedged between the
front seat passenger seat." The officer found the
presence of the backpack "odd" because there were
no children in the car. He wanted "to learn what was
inside the backpack." The officer returned to his
vehicle and performed a license and registration check.
During his conversation with one of the other officers, he
mentioned the backpack between the "two grown men"
and wryly said he thought they had "been out of school
for a while." The officer completed the record checks,
which revealed that McFadden had a valid license and no
officer returned to the vehicle McFadden was driving. His
body microphone was off and the driver's side of the
vehicle was out of view of the dash camera. According to the
officer's testimony at the suppression hearing, he
"asked [McFadden] for consent to look inside the
backpack or asked him what was inside the backpack."
McFadden "denied [him] consent." The officer
characterized McFadden as "very nervous, " with
"the artery on the left side of his neck . . .
pulsating, " a sharp contrast to his "calm, cool,
and collected" demeanor up to that point. He found this
change in his demeanor "suspicious." At this point,
the officer's partner jokingly chimed in, "[U]nless
it contains a heater or a pound of drugs, you won't have
anything to worry about." McFadden responded that the
backpack contained six pounds of marijuana.
officers removed McFadden from the vehicle, handcuffed him,
and searched the vehicle and backpack. They discovered
"six tightly compressed bricks of marijuana" in the
State charged McFadden with possession of a controlled
substance (marijuana) with intent to deliver. See
Iowa Code § 124.401(1)(d) (2015).
filed a motion to suppress the evidence. Following the
suppression hearing, ...