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State v. Roberts

Court of Appeals of Utah

May 24, 2018

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Jeremy Roberts, Appellant.

          Sixth District Court, Manti Department The Honorable Marvin D. Bagley No. 151600122

          Ryan N. Holtan, Attorney for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Nathan D. Anderson, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Ryan M. Harris authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and Diana Hagen concurred.

          HARRIS, JUDGE

         ¶1 In the course of executing a search warrant for a stolen cell phone at Defendant Jeremy Roberts's home, a police officer (Officer) discovered three prescription pill bottles that contained various pills and that were labeled with names other than Defendant's. A short time later, Officer sought and received a second warrant to search Defendant's property for drugs and, in the course of executing that second warrant, Officer discovered methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. After being charged with various drug-related crimes, Defendant moved to suppress the evidence discovered pursuant to the second warrant, but the district court denied his motion. Defendant eventually pleaded guilty to one count of possession or use of a controlled substance, while reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. After review, we conclude that the district court correctly denied Defendant's motion to suppress, and therefore affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 A shopper's cell phone was stolen from a supermarket in Gunnison, Utah. The shopper contacted local law enforcement officers, who arranged to send a signal to the phone and thereby determined that its SIM card[1] had last been located at Defendant's residence. Thereafter, local law enforcement officers visited Defendant's residence and questioned Defendant about the phone and, while he initially denied any knowledge of the phone, Defendant eventually stated that "some kids from Fillmore" had arrived at his residence with a phone and that he had recommended they return the phone to the supermarket.

         ¶3 The officers then contacted the supermarket and learned that someone had returned a phone matching the description of the shopper's cell phone. The returned phone, which was the same model as the shopper's phone, was damaged and missing its SIM card. The officers showed the phone to the shopper, who was unable to identify the returned phone as his. Officer then returned to Defendant's residence and questioned him about the phone for a second time. Defendant again began by denying that he knew anything about the phone, then repeated his assertion that "some kids from Fillmore" had shown up with the phone, then began to give "vague" and "very inconsistent" answers to Officer's questions about both the "kids from Fillmore" and the phone. Suspicious of Defendant's answers, Officer electronically applied for, and received, a warrant to search Defendant's residence for the phone and its SIM card. Officer served the warrant on Defendant and began the search.

         ¶4 Officer entered the front door of Defendant's residence, which opened directly into a kitchen. While searching the kitchen, Officer opened a cabinet and found several prescription bottles. Some of the bottles were labeled, but none of the labels bore Defendant's name; indeed, the medications had apparently been prescribed to three different people, none of whom lived in Defendant's residence. The label for one of the bottles indicated that it contained "duloxetine, " an anti-depressant and pain reliever. Two of the bottles contained unlabeled mixed pills.

         ¶5 After finding these bottles, Officer was informed by another officer on the scene that the SIM card for the missing phone had been found on Defendant's lawn. At that point, Officer ceased his search for the phone, exited Defendant's residence, and electronically applied for a second search warrant. In his affidavit supporting this application, Officer indicated that he had reason to believe that, due to Defendant's possession of "several prescription bottles with pills inside that are prescribed to people that do not live at [Defendant's] residence, " Officer would find additional "[p]rescription drugs, drug paraphernalia, " and/or "drugs" inside Defendant's residence. A magistrate promptly granted Officer's request for a second search warrant. Soon thereafter, Officer served the second warrant on Defendant, and during the search Officer found heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and various items of drug paraphernalia in Defendant's house.

         ¶6 The State charged Defendant with use or possession of heroin, use or possession of methamphetamine, use or possession of marijuana, and two counts of use or possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant moved to suppress all of the evidence obtained by the execution of the second search warrant, arguing that the second search warrant was not supported by probable cause. The district court denied Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that the facts in Officer's second affidavit were sufficient to support the magistrate's determination that the warrant was based on probable cause. After the denial of his motion to suppress, Defendant pled guilty to one count of use or possession of a controlled substance, a third degree felony, while reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress.[2]

         ISSUE AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶7 The sole issue on appeal is whether the district court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress. "We review a [district] court's decision to grant or deny a motion to suppress for an alleged Fourth Amendment violation as a mixed question of law and fact." State v. Fuller, 2014 UT 29, ¶ 17, 332 P.3d 937. "While the court's factual findings are reviewed for clear error, its legal ...


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