YOU BE THE JUDGE

The Facts

On April 6, 1999, Charlotte McKinley was the apartment manager of a complex located at 1905 California Avenue in Bakersfield. That day, the residents of apartment 17 informed McKinley that there was a disturbance in apartment 18. McKinley proceeded to call the police.

Bakersfield police officer Glen Davis responded with Officer Scott Thatcher. Upon arriving, Davis and Thatcher first met with McKinley, who directed them to apartment 18. When they got to the door, Davis and McKinley heard a male and female yelling at each other. Thatcher knocked on the door, and after a short time, someone inside looked out through the blinds, after which the arguing stopped. Davis and McKinley next heard the sound of the deadbolt lock, but the door was not opened. After waiting 15-30 seconds, Thatcher knocked again, announced the presence of the police, and ordered the door be opened immediately. Another 15-30 seconds passed, the officers heard the deadbolt lock mechanism again engage, and the door was opened.

Thatcher informed Davis that he observed a cut on Sanders' face, and saw McDaniel standing behind her. Davis described the cut as a "small abrasion[,] like a scrape," and testified the cut looked fresh. The two officers entered the apartment, at which point McDaniel was seen taking his hand out from between the couch cushions. Sanders then very quickly advised the police they were not welcome, stating, "What the fuck you all doing in my house? Get the fuck out of my house." Sanders subsequently began grappling with Thatcher. McDaniel walked toward Thatcher, advising him to leave Sanders alone, but Davis intervened, pressing McDaniel against the wall, and telling him to stay out of the situation. McDaniel attempted to push away from Davis a few times, so Davis handcuffed him. Shortly thereafter, Thatcher handcuffed Sanders.

After both defendants were handcuffed, Davis made a protective sweep of the apartment to make sure there was no one else in the apartment that could endanger his or Thatcher's safety. Davis looked through the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms, limiting his search to areas where a person could be hiding. There was an open closet in one of the bedrooms. Inside the closet, in plain view, Davis observed a pair of brown work boots, one of which had a large amount of plastic bags stuffed inside with small white chunks of cocaine base knotted into the corners. Davis did not seize the items at this time, but rather continued his protective sweep.

Once the sweep was completed, Davis called police department communication to obtain McDaniel's parole status. After it was determined that McDaniel was on parole, and subject to search, Davis called for a K-9 unit, and another two-man unit to assist in a search of the apartment.

Davis testified that he observed mail addressed to both defendants inside the apartment, and both men and women's clothing. Additionally, McDaniel had a key in his pocket which worked the lock mechanism on the apartment door. A pair of stainless-steel-plated scissors, seven inches in length, was retrieved from between the couch cushions. A total of 4.72 grams of cocaine, as well as a gram scale, $390 cash, and a pager, were seized from the apartment.

Sanders testified the blemish on her face was the result of numerous fights she had been in previously, and the scar on her face was there long before April 6, 1999. Sanders denied receiving the blemish as a result of a fight with McDaniel. Sanders also testified she could not recall telling the police that she received the scratch on the day of the incident, or that it was a result of running away from McDaniel and falling against a stucco wall. Sanders did not receive medical treatment for her injury.

Defendants contend that the court should suppress the evidence found in their apartment on the grounds that the warrantless search of their apartment was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
 

You Decide

   Should the evidence be suppressed? <<Click Here for the Answer>>



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