U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Tip Was Enough Reasonable Suspicion After a Bank Robbery

The bad guys almost got away by using the old "hide-the-loot-and-the-robbers-in-the-trunk" trick.

Katherine Phil was driving a gray Ford Taurus near the vicinity of a bank robbery in Iowa when a police officer pulled her over. The deputy had heard a radio report about two men who may have fled in a gray Ford Taurus.

Phil was alone, however, and the deputy was about to let her go -- then decided to check the trunk. You guessed it, as Maxwell Smart would say, the robbers missed it by that much.

Just Missed

After the deputy discovered them in the trunk, Phil, Stanley Earl Mosley, Jr., and Lance Lapae Monden pleaded guilty. However, they reserved the right to appeal a ruling in the consolidated cases, United States of America v. Mosley.

The judge had denied their motion to suppress the evidence from the search, arguing the officer didn't have sufficient reasonable suspicion for the stop and the search. The defendants said the police acted unreasonably because a tipster was not sure about what he had seen.

According to reports, the witness saw two hooded men running from the bank. He then saw a gray/silver Ford Taurus leave the area moments later.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said that was enough -- "eyewitness knowledge, contemporaneous reporting, and accountability -- weigh in favor of the witness's reliability."

More for Mosely

Mosely also challenged his sentence as a career offender. The appeals court pointed out that he had two priors for robbery.

But it didn't matter, the judges said, because his sentence would have been the same without the career offender enhancement. That's because the trial judge imposed a downward term -- 132 months.

In any case, the bad guys were caught holding the bag -- and the car. It also was stolen.

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