Oct. 5—A motion to suppress evidence in a driving under the influence case based on a lack of probable cause for a traffic stop leading to the charge failed Monday and a jury trial is set for Thursday on the case.
Robert Sean Newman faces the single count of driving under the influence. He was arrested Aug. 21, 2021, by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Bobby Barker on that charge and a charge of failure to maintain lane of travel. Newman was indicted by the grand jury on June 27, 2022.
The case has been delayed in the system because of changes in attorney and Newman indicating at previous court appearances he wanted to represent himself.
His latest attorney, Kyle Cokkinias, asked for a suppression hearing challenging the validity of the traffic stop.
During the short hearing Monday, Assistant District Attorney Rachel Bateman called one witness — Trooper Barker — in establishing probable cause for the traffic stop and arrest.
Barker testified he was following Newman's vehicle north on Hwy. 70 N. when he observed the motorist make a wide turn into another lane of travel while turning right onto Northside Dr. Barker said he decided to follow the driver to observe the motorist's driving and observed the vehicle leave its lane of travel twice.
This resulted in the stop on Northside Dr. at Bojangles. The trooper stated his patrol car camera was not activated until the second time the driver allegedly traveled outside his lane.
Barker stated he smelled alcohol during the stop but a blood alcohol lab analysis indicated no alcohol in Newman's system. The lab test did find the presence of drugs in the blood but no testimony identified what was found.
Barker did testify that based on his 32 years of law enforcement experience, he believed Newman to be impaired, citing the driving, slurred speech and balance issue.
Cokkinias argued that despite the trooper's testimony, no alcohol was found in his client's blood system and that a video from the patrol car did not show to him that Newman's vehicle ever traveled onto the shoulder while traveling on Northside Dr.
Criminal Court Judge Gary McKenzie ruled that while the video was "grainy" and difficult to view because it was recorded at night with no street lights in the area, the issue was a question for the jury to decide. He then denied that motion and a series of motions that Newman filed on his own behalf without knowledge of his attorneys.
McKenzie noted most of the citations in Newman's motions were federal court issues and not applicable to state court.
Jury selection were scheduled to begin around 8:30 a.m. Oct. 5.
Michael Moser may be reached at email@example.com