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State v. Patton

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District

July 19, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
RALPH PATTON, Defendant-Appellee.

Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Trial No. B-1105144

Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and James Michael Keeling, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellant,

Hal Arenstein, for Defendant-Appellee. Please note: this case has been removed from the accelerated calendar.



{¶1} Plaintiff-appellant the state of Ohio appeals the trial court's judgment suppressing evidence from inside the home of defendant-appellee Ralph Patton following the execution of a search warrant. Because the affidavit supporting the warrant provided sufficient probable cause to search the home and did not include any observations made by the officer during an allegedly illegal protective sweep of the home, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand this case for further proceedings.

{¶2} Patton was indicted on single counts of illegal cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana, and trafficking in marijuana. He subsequently moved to suppress all the evidence that stemmed from the search of his home.

{¶3} At the hearing on the motion to suppress, police testified that they had received an anonymous telephone call from one of Patton's neighbors, informing them that marijuana was being grown in the backyard of Patton's home and that it was visible from the street. The police went to the backyard without going onto the premises. They drove down a service drive, where they could see stalks of marijuana growing above a fence in the backyard. They could also smell an odor emanating from the marijuana.

{¶4} They knocked on the front door of the home, but no one answered. They then set up a perimeter around the house. They held the house under surveillance while one officer went to prepare an affidavit for a search warrant.

{¶5} While they were getting the search warrant, a vehicle pulled into the rear of the house. A man exited from the vehicle and went into the house. The police then went to the front door and rang the doorbell. A man answered the door. Police patted the man down, placed him in handcuffs, and detained him for questioning. During questioning, the man, later identified as Anthony Patton, said he was there to pick up his nephew and take him to school the next day, and that there was no one else in the home. The police then conducted a protective sweep of the home to make sure that no one else was in the home.

{¶6} The state's witnesses testified that three officers entered the home to see if other persons were present in the home. When officers did not find anyone, they came out of the home. During the protective sweep, one of the police officers saw two bags of marijuana on top of a dryer in the basement of the home. Defendant's witness, Anthony Patton, testified that eight officers went in, were there about 2o minutes, and then came out. The police then waited outside until they secured a search warrant for the premises. When they subsequently searched the home, the police seized the two bags of marijuana on the dryer in the basement.

{¶7} The trial court granted Patton's motion to suppress the evidence seized inside his home. The trial court found that the police officers' protective sweep of Patton's home was not justified under Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325, 334, 110 S.Ct. 1093, 108 L.Ed.2d 276 (1990). The court further held that because "law enforcement [had] used information gained from the unlawful intrusion to support the affidavit for a search warrant and the actual issuance of a search warrant, " the warrant was not valid.

{¶8} In its sole assignment of error, the state argues that the trial court erred in suppressing the evidence recovered during the search of the interior of Patton's home.

{¶9} We employ a two part analysis when reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress. First, we review the historical facts found by the trial court for clear error and give due weight to the inferences drawn from those facts by the trial court. Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 699, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 1663, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 (1996). Second, we must independently decide whether the facts meet the applicable legal standard. See State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d 71.

{¶10} The state argues that because the affidavit for the search warrant was supported by facts, independent of the protective sweep, which would have provided sufficient probable cause to search Patton's home, the trial court erred in suppressing the evidence seized inside ...

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