CALDWELL — Four felony drug charges were dropped Monday after a judge determined Dina Stidham’s rights were violated by Caldwell Police.
Third District Judge Bradly Ford determined the evidence found in Stidman’s arrest was no longer valid. Her felony charges of trafficking in marijuana, trafficking in methamphetamine, possession of cocaine, manufacturing drug paraphernalia and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia were all dismissed.
Stidham’s attorney, Alex Briggs, said when Caldwell Police arrived at his client’s home, officers didn’t have a search warrant.
They were at the home after arresting her son, Andrew Hoving, for drug possession because Hoving told police he had more drugs at his mother’s home.
According to the judge’s order, Stidham repeatedly told officers they would need a warrant to enter her home. She asked for an attorney five or six times, Briggs said, but she eventually signed a consent to search release.
Briggs said because his client requested an attorney, the judge determined the consent was not valid.
Stidham was initially arrested in January after Hoving was stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence. Police claimed he was found with 4.7 grams of methamphetamine, 4.7 grams of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, more than $1,000 cash and a handgun in his vehicle.
Hoving reportedly told police he had more drugs at his mother’s home. When police went to the home, without a search warrant, Stidham acknowledged there may be drugs in the home.
When Caldwell Officers Pete Troyer and Larry Hemmert arrived at her home, they asked to search the residence. The judge’s order states that when Stidham refused, officers opened the gate and handcuffed her. Police testified it was necessary to handcuff her to make sure she did not destroy evidence. She was later placed in a patrol car despite Stidham saying she was claustrophobic and it would make her sick.
When officers searched the home, they located about 4 pounds of marijuana, more than 3 ounces of methamphetamine, 3.2 grams of cocaine, a shotgun and a small drug paraphernalia manufacturing operation.
The court determined Stidham was lawfully detained for investigative purposes, but determined she was wrongfully interrogated.
The document states Caldwell Cpl. Scott Crupper told Stidham the other “officers would be happy to work with her and that if she was willing to give consent to a search they would remove the handcuffs and allow her to smoke.”
The judge said the officers’ behavior was coercive. When the woman told officers she was not feeling well because she was claustrophobic, “they used the opportunity to reengage their questioning of her and leveraging her consent to search,” the judge wrote.
The court determined the officers should not have used her discomfort as that leverage.
While she was being detained, law enforcement was getting a warrant to search the RV behind Stidham’s home where Hoving said he lived.
“The court is a bit mystified as to why under the circumstances law enforcement chose not to pursue a warrant to search of (Stidham’s) residence when one was already being sought for a search of the RV nearby,” the judge wrote.
Because of the officer’s behavior, Ford determined Stidham’s consent to the search the home would be suppressed as would evidence obtained during the search of the home.
Hoving’s case did move forward. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver.
Hoving was sentenced in July to six years in prison with two years fixed, but his sentence was suspended and he was ordered to serve three years of supervised probation.