Posted by Travis Uresk | Feb. 16th, 2023 | Drugs |
By Travis Uresk
Vernal, Ut.- On 01/24/2023, Corporal Johnstun was dispatched to an unknown problem at the Days Inn at 1092 West Highway 40 in Vernal, Utah. Dispatch said that the complainant stated a female had driven into the parking lot and fallen over.
Cpl Johnstun arrived just after the ambulance crew and was told by the paramedics that they had seen the female slumped over the steering wheel of the vehicle when they arrived and that the female had just left toward Smith's in a small silver vehicle.
Cpl Johnstun pulled up to the vehicle just as the female exited the driver's door, contacted the female, and advised her that they had been told she was passed out over the wheel. The female said she had just been looking for her phone in the vehicle and was fine.
At this time, Cpl Johnstun didn't see any signs of impairment as the female left to walk into Smith's.
After the female began walking away, he looked in through her vehicle's passenger side window and saw several items of suspected contraband in plain view on the passenger seat.
There were small plastic bags, a piece of foil, and the end of a pipe that was partially covered by the plastic bags. The items were to be used in the packaging and consumption of illegal substances.
Cpl Johnstun entered Smith's and contacted the female, who was identified as Ashley Jean Birchell. he asked Ashley to come outside and speak with him.
He asked Ashley if there was anything illegal in the vehicle, and she said there was not.
He then asked Ashley if they could search the vehicle, and she stated the car was not hers and she was borrowing it. Ashley was told they suspected she was under the influence of an illegal substance and requested Ashley submit to field sobriety tests, and she agreed.
Before the tests, Cpl Johnstun asked Ashley if she had used any illegal substances, and she stated she had in the past.
A field sobriety test was conducted and determined Ashley was not impaired to the degree she could not operate a motor vehicle.
Cpl Johnstun told Ashley he had seen drug paraphernalia items on her vehicle's passenger seat and asked her what was happening. Ashley then admitted she had items of drug paraphernalia in the vehicle. Ashley said they could have the drug paraphernalia.
The Police asked Ashley if they could search the vehicle, and she said no.
Ashley said she would be willing to get the items out of the vehicle for them but did not want them to search. Ashley was advised that they would not let her enter the vehicle due to concerns about evidence being hidden or destroyed.
Cpl Johnstun informed Ashley she would be detained, and they would apply for a search warrant for the vehicle. Ashley asked if they could do this without her being detained, and they told her, no, there is not.
They told Ashley they had probable cause to search the car because there were illegal items on the passenger seat, and they didn't have consent to search, so Cpl Johnstun would apply for the search warrant.
Ashley requested to make a phone call to the owner of the vehicle, and Cpl Johnstun denied the request for Officer safety.
Cpl Johnstun advised Ashley that, being in physical control of the vehicle, she could legally consent to a search if she so chose. Ashley then said, will you work with me? And he asked her, How?. Ashley indicated she did not want to get charged for each individual item of drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.
He asked Ashley how many illegal drugs she had in the vehicle, and she indicated she had black and clear. Cpl Johnstun knew these terms commonly used to reference heroin and methamphetamine.
Ashley was told she would be charged one count for each drug and one count to include all the paraphernalia items. Ashley then indicated she had relapsed for approximately 30 days. Cpl Johnstun then asked Ashley, How do you want to do this? Ashley said, Go ahead.
Cpl Johnstun clarified that Ashley was giving him consent to search the vehicle, and a search of the vehicle was then conducted. The search yielded three plastic bags containing a brown substance, one plastic bag containing a white crystalline substance, 4 melted plastic tubes, and one rubber pipe.
Ashley was placed under arrest and then transported to the Uintah County Jail, where she was booked for possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Based on Ashley's criminal history the charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of heroin were enhanced to 3rd-degree felonies.