Later, police added a charge of cocaine trafficking against Jones after noticing white powder cocaine all over the back seat area of the police car where he was sitting; Jones turned out to have a bag containing 85 grams (three ounces) of cocaine tucked into his groin.
The three were in a car that belonged to one of Newcomb’s relatives and had just pulled off Route 495 after the vehicle’s low tire pressure indicator light came on.
The car, which had Maine registration plates, pulled into a closed gas station on Route 110 in Amesbury, just past the exit ramp. It was around 2 a.m.
Noyes saw the car pull in, and said he noticed that the license plate light was not working.
He later testified that there had been a series of burglaries to businesses along that stretch of roadway between Interstates 495 and 95.
Noyes turned on his lights and pulled up to the exit to block the car from pulling out, then approached.
During the motion to suppress hearing, Noyes testified that while he was asking for identification from Newcomb, the driver of the vehicle, the two passengers, Jones and Palmer, appeared to be pulling up pieces of clothing toward their necks.
Noyes hadn’t told the three why he was stopping them, instead asking them a series of questions about where they were coming from and why they were at the gas station. One of the three told him they were on their way back to Maine from New York.
Noyes asked the passengers for identification, then ordered all three out of the car, pat-frisked them, found nothing at that point and then told Newcomb that “no one was getting back in the car or leaving until the vehicle was searched for weapons,” Feeley wrote. At that point, Newcomb told the officer, “go ahead and search.” That, suggested the judge, was not a voluntary consent.