PA Bill Number: HB2977
Title: In firearms and other dangerous articles, providing for civil liability of firearm owner for loss or theft.
Description: In firearms and other dangerous articles, providing for civil liability of firearm owner for loss or theft. ...
Last Action Date: Nov 24, 2020
Judge denies suppression of drugs, gun :: 08/07/2014
A Washington County judge ruled Thursday that a gun, a plastic bag containing marijuana and 45 small bags of heroin were seized legally, denying an Ellsworth man a second successful suppression hearing.
Brian A. Still Jr., 28, and his attorney, John Puskar, argued before Washington County Judge John DiSalle that the evidence seized by Washington police Sgt. Carl Martin was done so illegally without a search warrant and therefore should be suppressed.
Still was arrested in October after Martin observed a passenger in Still's vehicle preparing a blunt, which is a hollowed out cigar filled with marijuana. Upon closer inspection and smelling burned marijuana, Martin testified Thursday that he discovered a blunt in the vehicle's ashtray and later a plastic bag full of marijuana in the rear of the vehicle.
During a more thorough search, a nylon holster and a firearm were discovered under the front seat. The heroin bags were discovered on Still after he was arrested.
DiSalle denied the suppression, stating Martin had "reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was ongoing."
"The officer had reasonable suspicion to approach," he said. "He was authorized to reach into the vehicle and upon further search, noticed the holster under the seat. It was reasonable for the officer to seize that."
Assistant District Attorney Jerry Moschetta said new case law also was a factor in the judge's decision. A 2014 state Supreme Court ruling determined that Pennsylvania law and federal law are the same when it comes to searches of vehicles.
"Police officers just need probable cause," Moschetta said. "They don't need search warrants."