Jantry Shupe listens to testimony with his defense lawyers. Photo by Nick Shepherd.
A Kingsport alderman has been found not guilty of driving under the influence after officers failed to preserve evidence and did not read him his Miranda rights.
Jantry Shupe, 38, Kingsport, was arrested on June 2 and charged with DUI, violation of implied consent and failure to move over for lights and sirens. He was found guilty of violation of implied consent and failure to move over for flashing lights. He was fined $50 plus court costs and will have a restricted driver’s license.
Shupe was represented by Defense attorney Lynn Dougherty. One of the first motions Dougherty made when Shupe’s trial got underway was that any evidence involving a Styrofoam tea cup in Shupe’s possession at the time of his arrested, which was alleged to have alcohol in it, be suppressed.
A video filmed from a responding officer’s vehicle and shown in court, shows several officers sniffing the Styrofoam cup and then one officer pours the contents of the cup on the ground.
Dougherty argued that because the contents of the cup were destroyed and not tested, the evidence could not prove the state’s case against Shupe and could not disprove the state’s case against him and should be inadmissible.
Judge J. Klyne Lauderback agreed with the defense and suppressed that evidence.
“You’re supposed to preserve the evidence,” Judge Lauderback said. “You’re not supposed to do that.”
Dougherty also argued that once Shupe was placed in handcuffs, he should have been read his Miranda rights before being asked any questions.
Arresting officer Brad Conkin did not read him his Miranda rights.
The state tried to argue that because Shupe had not responded to any of the officer’s verbal orders, that Conkin was conducting an investigation and whatever Shupe said should be admissible.
“Once a person is handcuffed and put on the ground, they need their Miranda rights read,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but it is not admissible as direct evidence to convict that person of a crime. The law is clear that you can’t do that.”
Conkin and the other arresting officer, Jared Glover, testified about pulling Shupe over and arresting him. Both testified under oath that they smelled alcohol once Shupe began talking to them.
They said he did not consent to field sobriety tests and did not sign anything once he was in jail.
Prosecutors then showed the video without the audio because anything Shupe said could not be introduced as evidence. The video shows Shupe standing up straight and talking to officers.
After a few minutes, Lauderback came back with a verdict of not guilty on the charge of DUI because of lack of evidence.
“We feel he’s been exonerated,” Dougherty said.