Released for Publication March 13, 2014.
ON APPEAL FROM GRAYSON CIRCUIT COURT. HONORABLE BRUCE T. BUTLER, JUDGE. NO. 10-CR-00178.
FOR APPELLANT: Kathleen Kallaher Schmidt, Assistant Public Advocate, Molly Mattingly, Assistant Public Advocate.
FOR APPELLEE: Jack Conway, Attorney General of Kentucky, Heather Michelle Fryman, Assistant Attorney General.
MINTON, CHIEF JUSTICE
Michael Helphenstine entered a conditional guilty plea to one count of manufacturing methamphetamine, first offense, and being a second-degree Persistent Felony Offender (PFO 2). The trial court sentenced Helphenstine to fifty years' imprisonment. Helphenstine's charges stem from a search of his residence by his parole officers and local sheriffs deputies. As a matter of right, Helphenstine seeks review of two issues: (1) the trial court's denial of a motion to suppress the products of the search of his home and (2) the trial court's denial of a motion to suppress the
results of lab testing on the products of the search. Finding no error, we now affirm the judgment of conviction and sentence.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND.
Helphenstine's parole officers received an anonymous tip that he was using and manufacturing methamphetamine in the house he was renting. About a week later, the parole officers visited Helphenstine's house. Upon arrival, they met the landlord, who lived nearby. The landlord asked the parole officers to search Helphenstine's house because of suspicious activity and people around the house. The parole officers then made contact with Helphenstine at his house, at which time both Helphenstine and the landlord signed written forms consenting to a search of the property.
The search produced contraband associated with methamphetamine use and production, which prompted the parole officers to contact the local sheriff's office for assistance. Two sheriff's deputies arrived to aid with the search and handling of illegal substances. The search yielded such substances or devices as marijuana, Sudafed packs, syringes with residue, Coleman fuel, lithium batteries and lithium cores torn from batteries, and a one-step methamphetamine lab with methamphetamine oil inside. Helphenstine was arrested at the scene.
Helphenstine was indicted on one count of manufacturing methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense, and being a PFO 2. Before trial, Helphenstine filed a motion to suppress the products of the search on the grounds that (1) the parole officers did not have reasonable suspicion to search the premises and (2) the consent form only gave consent to the parole officers but not the deputies. Helphenstine also filed a motion to suppress the results of lab testing performed by the Kentucky State Police. The trial court held a suppression hearing where each party made legal arguments. Each side was then given time to submit briefs to support its argument. In the end, the trial court denied both of Helphenstine's motions.
Eventually, Helphenstine opted to enter a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right to appeal the two issues raised in his motions to suppress. Helphenstine pleaded guilty to a lesser offense, first-offense manufacturing methamphetamine, and to being a PFO 2. The Commonwealth recommended a sentence of fifty years' imprisonment, and the trial court sentenced Helphenstine accordingly. Helphenstine now appeals to this Court as a matter of right.
Helphenstine's two issues on appeal require us to address these three arguments he makes for reversal: The trial court erred by:
1) failing to hold an evidentiary hearing as required by Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure (RCr) 9.78;
2) denying the motion to suppress the products of the search of Helphenstine's residence; and
3) denying the motion to suppress the results of the Commonwealth's lab testing.
A. Under his Plea Agreement, Helphenstine is not Entitled to Review of the Trial Court's Alleged Failure to Hold ...