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Zanders v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

September 12, 2013

Mario M. ZANDERS, Appellant
v.
UNITED STATES, Appellee.

Submitted Nov. 1, 2012.

Page 245

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 246

Joanne Vasco, Hyattsville, MD, was on the brief for appellant.

Ronald C. Machen, Jr., United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Chrisellen R. Kolb, Jodi Steiger Lazarus, and Christopher Macchiaroli, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief for appellee.

Before GLICKMAN and THOMPSON, Associate Judges, and TERRY, Senior Judge.

TERRY, Senior Judge:

Appellant was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute it while armed, along with three firearm-related offenses. On appeal he contends (1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence that was seized following a traffic stop, and (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Finding no error, we affirm.

I

On December 11, 2010, at around 5:30 p.m., Officers Aaron Casper and Devon Atcheson of the Metropolitan Police saw a white Oldsmobile with temporary tags make a left turn without signaling in the 1200 block of Anacostia Road, Southeast. The officers turned on their lights and siren and pursued the Oldsmobile, which pulled over to the side of the road about two blocks away. Officer Casper reported the traffic stop to his dispatcher and requested backup assistance.

The officers approached the car, with Casper on the driver's side and Atcheson on the passenger's side. Inside the Oldsmobile were four young men. Brandon Hebron was in the driver's seat; behind him was Eric Wade; a juvenile (D.M.) was in the front passenger seat; and in the right rear seat was appellant Zanders. Officer Casper asked the driver, Brandon Hebron, for his license, registration, and

Page 247

proof of insurance. Hebron responded that he only had his driver's license number, which raised the officers' suspicions because, in their experience, individuals who do not possess a valid driver's license will memorize the driver's license number of someone who does. Hebron also stated that the car did not belong to him, that it was his girl friend's car, and that he could not provide any of the ownership information. Officer Casper noted that Hebron appeared nervous.

The officers returned to their car to check the driver's license number, which turned out to be valid. At this point, however, the officers did not know whether the driver's license number belonged to Hebron, nor did they know to whom the car was registered. Just then two backup officers, Filip Simic and Myo Kyaw, arrived on the scene. The four officers went back to the stopped Oldsmobile to ask if there were any guns or drugs in the car; they also asked if they could search it. The driver, Hebron, who still appeared nervous, told the officers they could not search the car ...


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