The Minnesota Appeals Court, in a ruling filed March 15, upheld the impounding of a Cambridge man’s vehicle that led law officers to discover methamphetamine but remanded the case back to the district court for determination of guilt on three lesser charges.
Donald Cody Tarbell, 29, was pulling out of McDonald’s restaurant when he was spotted by an Isanti County sheriff’s deputy who had run his license plate number and found Tarbell had an active warrant.
Tarbell said he immediately called his wife to come and pick up his vehicle because he expected to be arrested.
The deputy advised Tarbell to follow him to the Law Enforcement Center where they could discuss the warrant. As Tarbell pulled onto the highway he was driving between two county squad cars.
The second deputy, Sean Connolly, testified he could see the silhouette of Tarbell reaching over into the passenger seat and because he was “making sudden movements” the officer was concerned Tarbell might have a weapon.
Said Deputy Connolly, “I just had a gut feeling I shouldn’t be following him in so that’s why I stopped the (Tarbell’s) vehicle.”
It was at the point of the second stop that Tarbell was arrested on the warrant and because he did not have vehicle insurance.
Tarbell’s vehicle was then impounded because it had no insurance and could not be driven by his wife who was not physically at the scene.
When the vehicle was inventoried as part of the routine impoundment process, methamphetamine was discovered.
The Appeals Court ruled the impoundment and search to have been proper and upheld Tarbell’s conviction on the drug possession charge.
In the second part of Tarbell’s appeal, that he had been sentenced on three additional charges for which he had not been found guilty, the Appeals Court sent the issue back to the 10th District Court for a determination of guilt.