Faribault County’s chief prosecutor may have some extra work to do because of a judge’s ruling.
Judge Douglas Richards recently dismissed 7 felony charges against a 60-year-old man allegedly caught with drugs, guns and child pornography following a traffic stop.
“I am able to appeal that ruling,” says County Attorney Troy Timmerman. “I have not yet decided, if I will.”
Donald Gene Beckmann was charged in March after Wells police officer Christopher Beaver stopped him for speeding.
According to court documents, a search of Beckmann’s vehicle allegedly found two baggies of methamphetamine, two handguns and a computer tablet containing images of nude juveniles.
Court papers say Richards ruled in favor of the defense’s motion to suppress all evidence because the officer did not have legal probable cause to search the car.
“Officer Beaver lacked reasonable, articulable basis to expand the scope and duration of the traffic stop to inquire about drugs and other illegalities in the vehicle,” Richards wrote.
A complaint says Beaver obtained a warrant to search the vehicle after a K9 was called in and indicated there were drugs in the vehicle.
Beaver stated he was suspicious because Beckmann and a passenger were acting nervously and had a dog with them that he hadn’t ever seen with them before.
Richards says those reasons for suspicion weren’t adequate enough to ask Beckmann to exit his vehicle and ask him about what he was doing and what was in his vehicle.
The passenger in the car, 54-year-old Tracy Lee Rathai of Wells, pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor possession after a trace amount of methamphetamine was found in a duffel bag in the trunk that also contained clothing with his name. He was sentenced in May to 45 days in jail and two years probation.