Kane judge upholds I-90 vehicle search that netted heroin
A Kane County judge Thursday upheld the traffic stop and search of a 34-year-old Minnesota woman's car in August 2015 along Interstate 90 that yielded heroin.
If Judge Linda Abrahamson agreed with defense attorneys the search against Corey R. Sackett, of St. Paul, was illegal, it would have marked the fourth time in the last year and a half that evidence was thrown out of court due to the actions of Kane County Sgt. Ron Hain.
"Putting all things on balance, I cannot find that the search was unreasonable," Abrahamson said in her ruling.
Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Kim Bilbrey argued that Hain lacked probable cause to do the search, which turned up a marijuana pipe in the glovebox and heroin in Sackett's purse.
Bilbrey questioned why Hain kept questioning Sackett -- eventually calling a drug dog -- after he testified that he immediately smelled an odor of burnt marijuana in the car.
"It's ridiculous. It's never mentioned anywhere in the (squad car) vehicle," Bilbrey argued. "This was a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights (against unreasonable search and seizure). Her rights were trampled by Sgt. Hain."
Hain testified Thursday that he smelled an odor of burnt marijuana when he leaned in the passenger-side window of Sackett's car after pulling her over on I-90 the morning of Aug. 13, 2015, for following a truck too closely and making an unsafe lane change.
Hain brought Sackett to his patrol vehicle to write her a warning, and after talking with her about why she was in the area -- including her not even being able to name the college she said she was in town to visit -- asked to search her car. She declined, so Hain asked her if she would consent to have a dog sniff around her car. Sackett again declined, but Hain said he had a reasonable suspicion to do the search and called another officer and K-9 unit to the area.
Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Mark Stajdohar argued that as soon as Hain smelled the pot smoke he had probable cause to search the car. Deputy Terence Hoffman also testified he smelled an odor of burnt marijuana coming from the car.
"It's called an investigation. That's what we expect our law enforcement officers to do," Stajdohar said. "(Hain) is gathering evidence."
Evidence was banned from trial in three cases within the last year and half where a judge ruled Hain and other deputies acted improperly or against recent court rulings, one of them being an U.S. Supreme Court ruling that police cannot unnecessarily prolong a traffic stop after a ticket or warning has been issued in an attempt to obtain more evidence or wait for a drug-sniffing to arrive. Each of those three cases has resulted in a federal lawsuit, which are all still pending.
Sackett, who is free on bond. is next due in court on Nov. 18. If convicted, she faces a punishment ranging from probation to up to three years in prison.