Prosecutors and defense attorneys have agreed to argue that a 19-year-old Laramie man should be sentenced only to probation after the defendant pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from a DUI case in March.
Noah Norgauer pleaded guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance and a DUI on Tuesday.
The man was originally charged with four felonies and two misdemeanors for causing a wreck while intoxicated at the intersection of Third Street and Snowy Range Road Bridge.
The wreck caused “serious injury” to another person, according to the Laramie Police Department.
The wreck occurred shortly after 5 p.m. After the crash, Norgauer was taken to the county jail, where he racked up charges for bringing THC wax and Xanax into the jail.
The guilty plea negated the need for Albany County district court judge Tori Kricken to make a ruling on whether Wyoming’s crime of “taking a controlled substance into a jail” involves an inherent infringement of a person’s right against self-incrimination as guaranteed by the 5th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The THC wax and Xanax were found on Norgauer’s person after he was searched when being brought into the jail.
Norgauer’s attorney, David Korman, argued in May that the only way Norgauer could have avoided the two felony charges for bringing the drugs into the jail would be to tell arresting officers that he had the illegal drugs in his possession.
“Mr. Norgauer was forced into a position wherein he could not effectively employ his right to remain silent,” Korman wrote in a motion to have the charges dismissed. “At that moment in time, Mr. Norgauer could either incriminate himself of remain silent and have that silence be the basis for an additional felony change. … If he were to admit that he had possession of contraband, then he would be giving an admission to a felony third offense possession charge.”
Korman said that, while the Wyoming Supreme Court has previously scrutinized state law on taking a controlled substance into a jail, the state’s high court has yet to examine its constitutionality pertaining to self-incrimination.
“At issue here is not whether or not the act was voluntary, but how the defendant must respond to a situation wherein silence is acquiescence to a felony,” Korman said. “If individuals are forced to either incriminate themselves or face felony charges for remaining silent, the right to remain silent is nothing but a paper right. The very fundamental purpose of the right to remain silent is that you need not incriminate yourself and need not be a witness against yourself in a criminal proceeding.”
Before Norgauer pleaded guilty, Kricken had scheduled a July 22 hearing to consider Korman’s arguments.
According to a police affidavit, Norgauer had rear-ended a white Chevy Impala that was waiting in the northbound left turn lane at Third and Harney streets.
“The rear impact to the vehicle was so substantial that it caused both the front seats to break and recline fully into the back seat so that both (the passenger) and the driver were laying down after the crash occurred,” the police affidavit states.
Both the driver and passenger in the Impala reported “severe pain to their neck” and the passenger was taken to Ivinson Memorial Hospital.
When LPD officer Frederic O’Connor arrived at the scene, he noted that Norgauer’s Toyota Camry was “completely crushed” and the trunk of the Impala was also “completely crushed.”
When O’Connor talked to Norgauer, he observed that the defendant’s eyes were “glassy, red and bloodshot and had slightly slurred speech and difficulty understanding instructions and/or questions.”
A witness said he saw Norgauer’s car previously “blow through the stop sign heading westbound on Sheridan (Street) which made him stop in the middle of Third facing westbound.”
When Norgauer began driving north, the witness said he saw Norguauer “weaving into oncoming traffic” before crashing into the back of the Impala.
A blood test was performed on Norgauer at the jail, but the affidavit does not indicate what, if anything, Norgauer tested positive for.
When the defendant’s vehicle was searched, police found a backpack that contained: a pistol with four loaded cartridges, eight containers including THC wax residue, a glass bong, a scale, an aerosol can of Whip It, rolling papers, a knife, two pipes, numerous plastic bags and other paraphernalia with THC wax residue.