(Braxton County 16-F-26)
Kenneth Bookheimer, by counsel Andrew B. Chattin, appeals the
Circuit Court of Braxton County's April 17, 2017,
sentencing order. The State, by counsel Gordon L. Mowen, II,
filed a response. On appeal, petitioner argues that the
circuit court erred in denying his motion to suppress.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
February 13, 2016, Deputy Harry Teare of the Braxton County
Sheriff's Department responded to a call regarding an
impaired driver. Deputy Teare and Trooper Logan Mohr, a West
Virginia State Trooper, located the driver, Johnna Skidmore,
at a local business. Upon approaching the vehicle, Trooper
Mohr observed hypodermic needles sticking out of Ms.
Skidmore's open purse. Ms. Skidmore explained that a
friend had given her the needles at her residence. Upon the
search of her purse, Trooper Mohr found a spoon and pipe with
what appeared to be methamphetamine residue.
upon Ms. Skidmore's statement that she received needles
and other items from a friend at her residence, Trooper Mohr
applied for a search warrant to search that home. Trooper
Mohr's request for a warrant was based upon his belief
that evidence of further methamphetamine-related crimes were
on the premises. Braxton County Magistrate Mary Beth Smith
issued a warrant for a search of Ms. Skidmore's residence
and found that the affidavit provided in the warrant
application established probable cause on its face. Trooper
Mohr later testified that the warrant was issued at
approximately 3:00 p.m. and the search was initiated shortly
thereafter, at approximately 3:15 p.m.
search of the residence revealed evidence of a
methamphetamine laboratory, materials used in the production
of methamphetamine, and multiple firearms. Petitioner, a
previously convicted felon, was present at the home during
this search and had been living there for approximately two
October 4, 2016, petitioner was indicted by a grand jury on
four felony counts: (1) attempt to operate a clandestine drug
laboratory in violation of West Virginia Code §
60A-4-411, (2) conspiracy in violation of West Virginia Code
§ 61-10-31, (3) possession of Ephedrine with intent to
use to manufacture methamphetamine in violation of West
Virginia Code § 60A-10-4(d), and (4) person prohibited
from possessing a firearm in violation of West Virginia Code
circuit court held a hearing on petitioner's and Ms.
Skidmore's motions to suppress on January 6,
2017. Ms. Skidmore alleged that the police
lacked the authority to search her purse. However, the
circuit court rejected this claim, finding that the needles
were in plain view, which gave the officers probable cause to
conduct a search of the purse. Ms. Skidmore and petitioner
also challenged the validity of the search warrant, alleging
that the warrant application did not establish probable
cause. The circuit court denied this claim, finding that the
warrant contained a detailed request that constituted
probable cause on its face. Trooper Mohr made clear in the
warrant application that he believed a search of the
residence was necessary because Ms. Skidmore informed him
that she had obtained drug paraphernalia from that residence.
Trooper Mohr testified that the search warrant was obtained
before the search was initiated, although petitioner argued
that he did not see the warrant until his attorney showed it
to him after his arrest.
January 25, 2017, petitioner agreed to enter a guilty plea to
the felony offense of person prohibited from possessing a
firearm. In exchange, the State agreed to stand silent at
sentencing on the matter and the remaining felony counts were
dismissed. On February 27, 2017, the circuit court held a
hearing wherein it sentenced petitioner to a term of
incarceration of not less than five years. Petitioner now
appeals the circuit court's April 17, 2017, sentencing
We have held as follows:
"In reviewing the findings of fact and conclusions of
law of a circuit court . . ., we apply a three-pronged
standard of review. We review the decision . . . under an
abuse of discretion standard; the underlying facts are
reviewed under a clearly erroneous standard; and questions of
law and interpretations of statutes and rules are subject to
a de novo review." Syllabus Point 1, State
v. Head, 198 W.Va. 298, 480 S.E.2d 507 (1996).
Syl. Pt. 1, in part, State v. Georgius, 225 W.Va.
716, 696 S.E.2d 18 (2010).
appeal, petitioner argues that the circuit court erred in
denying his motion to suppress evidence found in the
residence and that the trooper conducted a search of his home
before obtaining a warrant. Further, petitioner asserts that
his constitutional privacy rights were violated. However, we
find that petitioner waived his right to raise this argument
on appeal because his guilty plea was not a conditional
guilty plea and petitioner did not reserve his right to
challenge the circuit court's denial of his motion to
suppress in a subsequent appeal. The right to appeal is
limited in the context of a guilty plea. We explained in
State v. Sims, 162 W.Va. 212, 215, 248 S.E.2d 834,
837 (1978) that "[a]n appeal ordinarily does not lie in
a criminal case from a judgment of conviction rendered upon a
plea of guilty." Such appeals are generally limited to
cases in which "an issue is raised as to the
voluntariness of the guilty plea or the legality of the
sentence." Id. at 212, 248 S.E.2d at 835, Syl.
Pt. 1, in part.
we have explained that a "defendant waives significant
constitutional rights by entering into a plea
agreement[.]" State ex rel. Forbes v. Kaufman,
185 W.Va. 72, 77, 404 S.E.2d 763, 768 (1991); see also
State v. Greene, 196 W.Va. 500, 505, 473 S.E.2d 921, 926
(1996) ("If any principle is well settled in this State,
it is that, in the absence of special circumstances, a guilty
plea waives all antecedent constitutional and statutory
violations save those with jurisdictional
consequences."); Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S.
258, 267 (1973) (when a criminal defendant openly admits in
court that he is guilty of the offense charged, "he may
not thereafter raise independent claims relating to the
deprivation of constitutional rights that occurred prior to
the entry of the guilty plea."). Notably, once ...