Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kotila v. Kentucky case brief

Kotila v. Kentucky case brief summary
114 S.W.3d 226 (2003)

CASE SYNOPSIS: After the Pulaski Circuit Court (Kentucky) denied defendant's motion to suppress items seized in a warrantless search, he was convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine by possessing the chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of methamphetamine with the intent to manufacture it, in violation of Ky. Rev. Stat. § 218A.1432(1)(b). The offense was enhanced to a felony by his possession of a firearm at the time of the offense. He appealed.

CASE FACTS: An officer saw defendant, who appeared intoxicated, furtively reach his arm through a slightly opened car window. He consented to the search of a bag found in the car, which contained lithium batteries and antihistamine tablets -- items commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine. A consent search of the car produced methamphetamine, chemicals, and equipment associated with its manufacture, and a loaded handgun.

  • The supreme court affirmed denial of the suppression motion, since police had reasonable grounds to suspect defendant of theft or intoxication, and had reasonable suspicion of illegal drug activity sufficient to request permission to search the vehicle. 
  • The failure of the instructions to require the jury to find that defendant possessed all of the equipment needed to manufacture methamphetamine required reversal (though the evidence had been sufficient to allow such a finding, as well as to convict). 
  • The evidence was sufficient to prove defendant's constructive possession of the firearm and the nexus between the drug offense and the firearm possession under Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.992. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.1432(1)(b) was not unconstitutionally vague.
CONCLUSION: Defendant's conviction was reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

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