State v. Valentine

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State v. Valentine

Case Number
A-18-0902
Court Number
Douglas
Call Date
September 10, 2019
Case Time
1:30 PM
Case Summary

A-18-902, State of Nebraska v. Daejerron L. Valentine (Appellant)

District Court of Douglas County, Judge Duane C. Dougherty

Attorney for Appellant: Jessica Clark West (Douglas County Public Defender’s Office)

Attorney for Appellee: Nathan Liss (Attorney General’s Office)

Criminal Action: Possession of marijuana and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person

Action Taken by Trial Court: A jury found appellant guilty of possession of marijuana and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. The district court subsequently sentenced Appellant to a $300 fine on his conviction for possession of marijuana and to a term of imprisonment of 20 years to 20 years and 1 day on his conviction for possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. 

Assignments of Error on Appeal: On appeal, appellant alleges that the district court erred in (1) overruling his motion to suppress evidence seized as a result of the traffic stop because there was not probable cause to stop his vehicle and because the search of his entire vehicle was not reasonable or supported by probable cause; (2) incorrectly interpreting Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-1206, as it read at the time of his arrest in October 2017; and (3) improperly instructing the jury prior to its deliberations.

 

Extended Case Summary for:

A-18-902, State of Nebraska v. Daejerron L. Valentine (Appellant)

            Following a jury trial, appellant was convicted of possession of marijuana and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. The charges against appellant stem from a traffic stop of his vehicle which occurred in October 2017. On the evening of October 12, an Omaha Police Department detective pulled over appellant’s vehicle because he believed that the tint on the vehicle’s side windows was darker than what is permitted by law. After the detective approached appellant’s vehicle and began conversing with him, the detective noticed the smell of burnt marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed two baggies of marijuana, a digital scale, over two hundred dollars in cash, and a firearm. Subsequent testing of the firearm revealed that appellant could not be excluded as a contributor of DNA found on the firearm. Appellant had previously been convicted of a felony.

            Appellant has filed an appeal from his convictions. On appeal, appellant makes three basic arguments. First, appellant argues that the evidence obtained as a result of the search of his vehicle should have been suppressed. He argues that the detective who initiated the traffic stop of his vehicle did not have probable cause to believe that he had committed any crime, including any traffic violation. Appellant also argues that the detective should have ended the search of his vehicle after the detective located the marijuana because the detective had located the source of the smell he observed. If the detective had stopped searching after finding the marijuana, he would not have located the firearm.

            Appellant’s second argument on appeal is that the district court erred in interpreting the language of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-1206, as that statute read at the time of his arrest in October 2017. Section 28-1206 delineates the elements necessary to prove a person guilty of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. In October 2017, that statute read as follows:

(1)        A person commits the offense of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person if he or she:

(a)        Possesses a firearm, a knife, or brass or iron knuckles and he or she:

  (i)       Has previously been convicted of a felony;

             (ii)      Is a fugitive from justice;

(iii)       Is the subject of a current and validly issued domestic violence protection order, harassment protection order, or sexual assault protection order and is knowingly violating such order[.]

Appellant argues that because there is not an “or” between (a)(ii) and (a)(iii), that the statute must be interpreted to define a prohibited person to be someone who has previously been convicted of a felony; who is a fugitive from justice; and is the subject of a valid and current protection order. The district court did not agree with appellant’s interpretation and, instead, found that the statute defined a prohibited person as someone who has previously been convicted of a felony; who is a fugitive from justice; or who is the subject of a valid and current protection order. Because appellant has previously been convicted of a felony, he meets the definition of a “prohibited person.”

            Appellant’s third argument on appeal is that the district court erred in instructing the jury prior to its deliberations. Appellant argues that the district court did not properly explain what needed to be proven in order for the jury to find him guilty of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. In particular, appellant wanted the district court to provide the jury with a more detailed explanation of what it meant to be in “possession” of a firearm.

 

Case Location
Concordia University
Court Type
District Court
Schedule Code
A2
Panel Text
Riedmann, Bishop and Arterburn, Judges