Motion to suppress evidence denied in firearms case

Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker denied a defense motion last Thursday (Aug. 6) to suppress evidence in a case against 43-year-old Clifton resident Paul Wilson Northam, who is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Defense attorney Peter Hansen argued in part that Northam’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when, according to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Rodriguez vs. United States, Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Dodson’s traffic stop early in the morning of Jan. 3 on U.S. 211 near Washington was used as “subterfuge” for an “extraneous investigation.”

Dodson testified that after he stopped Northam — after noticing the rear lights not working in the trailer that Northam was towing — Northam, upon hearing his lights were not working, got out of the truck to check the connection. Dodson told the court that when Northam opened the door, he noticed the end of a camouflage rifle case showing in the extended-cab area behind the front seat.

On running Northam’s license and registration, he said, he was told by the dispatcher that Northam was a convicted felon — a conviction dating to Northam’s teen years in North Carolina, though Dodson said no such details were available.

Dodson returned to the truck, he testified, and told Northam he was going to take the rifle, and did.

Hansen, with Northam’s testimony and photos of the interior of the truck, tried to prove that “there was no way” that Dodson could have known the case he saw was a rifle case.

“My family hunts, and I’ve been hunting all my life,” Dodson testified. “I know what a rifle case looks like.”

Parker agreed, denying the motion, and adding that “this just appears to be a case of good police work.” A bench trial for Northam is scheduled for Sept. 3.

District Court

In Rappahannock County District Court Tuesday (Aug. 11), Donald David Winland, 62, of Flint Hill, pleaded guilty to a first-time DWI charge. Judge J. Gregory Ashwell fined him $250; sentenced him to 90 days in jail (all of it suspended) and suspended his license for 12 months, but granted Winland’s restricted license request so that he can drive to and from work and other limited uses. Winland must have an ignition interlock device installed on his vehicle and attend VASAP, the state’s alcohol education program.

Boston resident Kevin Jonathan Lemen, 27, pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, all of it suspended, and ordered to pay a $100 fine. A second assault charge was dropped.

Tavaris Wilmington, 19, of Chantilly, pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana. He was ordered to pay a $100 fine, sentenced to 12 months of supervised probation and six months’ suspension of his license.

Brandon Michael Row, 21, of Warrenton, charged with possession of marijuana, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of unauthorized possession of drug paraphernalia. He was ordered to pay a $100 fine and sentenced to 90 days in jail, all suspended.

Patty Hardee also contributed to this report.

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