MCFADDEN, P. J., MCMILLIAN and GOSS, JJ.
Jonathan S. Hill and Rico Bullock were jointly tried before a
jury and convicted of trafficking in methamphetamine and
possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
They filed motions for new trial, as amended, which the trial
court denied following a hearing. Hill and Bullock then filed
separate appeals, which we have consolidated for review. As
more fully set forth below, we now affirm in both appeals.
to support the jury's verdict,  the evidence shows that on
May 14, 2015, a Henry County police officer (hereinafter
"arresting officer") visually observed a car
traveling south on Interstate 75 in Henry County at speeds in
excess of 80 mph, which he then confirmed with two laser
radar readings. The arresting officer initiated a traffic
stop, and the driver of the vehicle immediately pulled over.
The officer approached the passenger side of the vehicle, as
was his custom during an interstate stop because of safety
and security concerns. The arresting officer immediately
detected a strong odor of burnt marijuana and a fainter odor
of raw marijuana, both of which the officer said he had been
trained to recognize. The driver, subsequently identified as
defendant Bullock, produced a valid license but not an
insurance card because the car was a rental. By this point,
the officer had already observed signs of extreme nervousness
on the part of the driver, which included shaking hands and a
heartbeat that was visible through Bullock's t-shirt. The
officer also said that he observed that the passenger,
subsequently identified as Hill, was pressed back into his
seat and did not make eye contact or speak with him, which
the arresting officer said in his experience was unusual
because the passenger is usually more talkative than the
driver since they are not worried about getting a ticket.
of the "nervousness and the smell of marijuana" the
officer decided he had probable cause to search but first
called for backup. The backup officer arrived within minutes,
and the arresting officer advised Bullock that based on the
marijuana smell, he intended to conduct a probable cause
search of the vehicle. Bullock told the arresting officer
that his wife, Hill, and he occasionally smoked marijuana and
it was probably coming from his clothes.
arresting officer proceeded to search the vehicle, starting
with the front center console between the passenger and
driver's seats, where he discovered a loaded Smith and
Wesson Model 39 semiautomatic pistol. He next looked in the
backseat, where he observed what appeared to be, based on his
training and experience, "little bits of loose marijuana
primarily in the rear passenger floorboard." The
arresting officer next looked into the trunk, where he
observed a blue paper shopping or gift bag sitting directly
in the center of the trunk with a pair of men's gray Nike
tennis shoes sitting on top. Two food-storage type
containers, each wrapped in plastic wrap, were in the bag
underneath the shoes. The substance in the containers field
tested positive for methamphetamine, and subsequent lab
testing confirmed the substance was methamphetamine weighing
approximately 996.97 grams.
were placed under arrest and searched. Police discovered
$1000 in Hill's left front pants pockets, and $91 was
removed from his right front pants pocket; Hill told police
that the $1000 was his payment for picking up the narcotics
and transporting them back to Macon, Georgia. Hill and
Bullock were interviewed by a Narcotics Investigator once
they arrived at the jail, and following a
Jackson-Denno hearing, the Investigator testified
about defendants' inculpatory statements at trial. The
Investigator said he first interviewed Bullock, who
immediately made the statement that "he was dead"
because he did not follow instructions to wait until the
morning to travel back to Macon when the traffic would be
heavier and the risk of getting stopped therefore diminished.
He further testified that Bullock told him that he had gone
to an apartment complex in Norcross, Georgia, where he was
supposed to pick up something and take it back to Macon where
Narcotics Investigator also interviewed Hill, who told him
that he had received a telephone call that the drugs had been
delayed and that he was going to have to go to Norcross to
pick them up, although normally they were delivered to Macon.
Hill also said that they were advised to leave in the morning
rush hour traffic, but that they left that night because they
were tired and ready to get home, which Bullock had also said
was the reason they did not wait. The Investigator testified
that Hill told him that when he arrived in Norcross he went
inside the apartment and exchanged the money while the
methamphetamine was being weighed. Hill also told him that
normally he only "moved around" in the Macon area,
where his job was to collect the money for previous
methamphetamine he had dropped off.
Narcotics Investigator further testified that as Hill was
about to be transported to jail, he told the Investigator
that the GPS to the apartment was still on his phone and that
he could look at it and gave him the pass code. The Narcotics
Investigator said that he used the pass code Hill gave him to
gain access to the phone, and he found a Norcross address in
the phone that matched the address Hill provided as being the
location where he picked up the methamphetamine. Based on
this and other evidence presented at trial, defendants were
convicted of trafficking in methamphetamine and possession of
a firearm during the commission of a felony, and given
identical sentences of 30 years, to serve 25 with the
remainder on probation.
first argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion
to suppress, challenging the credibility of the officer who
initiated the stop and contending that the officer
unreasonably prolonged the stop.
Under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement
imposed by the Fourth Amendment, a police officer may search
a car without a warrant if he has probable cause to believe
the car contains contraband, even if there is no exigency
preventing the officer from getting a search warrant."
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Shell v. State,
315 Ga.App. 628, 631 (2) (727 S.E.2d 243) (2012). Applying
this exception, our Supreme Court and this Court have held
that where a trained police officer detects the odor of
burning or burnt marijuana coming from a vehicle, the officer
has probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of the
vehicle, provided that the officer's ability to identify
the odor is placed into evidence. See Douglas v.
State, 303 Ga. 178 (2) (811 S.E.2d 337) (2018);
Jones v. State, 319 Ga.App. 678, 679 (1) (738 S.E.2d
130) (2013); Williams v. State, 273 Ga.App. 637, 639
(1) (615 S.E.2d 789) (2005); State v. Folk, 238
Ga.App. 206, 209 (521 S.E.2d 194) (1999) (whole court). Such
a search can encompass "every part of the vehicle which
might have concealed the drug contraband, including the trunk
and closed containers." (Citation and punctuation
omitted.) Jones, 319 Ga.App. at 679 (1).
State v. Alford, 347 Ga.App. 208, 214 (3) (818
S.E.2d 668) (2018).
In reviewing a ruling on a motion to suppress, we review the
trial court's factual findings for clear error and its
legal conclusions de novo. See Vansant v. State, 264
Ga. 319, 320 (1) (443 S.E.2d 474) (1994). In addition, in
reviewing such a ruling, an appellate court must construe the
evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the trial
court's factual findings and judgment. An appellate court
also generally must limit its consideration of the disputed
facts to those ...