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State v. Turpin

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

September 1, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
CHAD TURPIN Defendant-Appellant

         (Criminal Appeal from Municipal Court) Trial Court Case No. 2016-CRB-5125

          TROY B. DANIELS, Atty. Reg. No. 0084957, Assistant City of Dayton Prosecutor, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          ANGELINA N. JACKSON, Atty. Reg. No. 0077937, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          TUCKER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Chad E. Turpin, appeals from his convictions in Dayton Municipal Court Case No. 2016-CRB-5125, arguing that the court erred by overruling his motion to suppress evidence obtained as the result of a warrantless search in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. In response, the State argues that Turpin's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated, but that even if his rights were violated, the exclusionary rule should not apply in this case pursuant to the attenuation doctrine. We find that the trial court erred by overruling Turpin's motion to suppress, and therefore, we reverse.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} On July 28, 2016, an officer with the Dayton Police Department received a dispatch directing him to a residence on Haverfield Road in Dayton in response to a report of a recovered stolen vehicle. Decision & Entry Overruling Def.'s Mot. to Suppress 1, Dec. 29, 2016 [hereinafter Decision]; Tr. of Hr'g on Def.'s Mot. to Suppress 5, Aug. 31, 2016 [hereinafter Tr. of Hr'g]. The dispatch identified a suspect, James Delecce, and reported an active warrant for his arrest. Tr. of Hr'g 6. Turpin resided at the Haverfield Road location at that time; Delecce apparently did not.[1] Id. at 3-4 and 19.

         {¶ 3} When the officer arrived, he found the stolen vehicle in the driveway. Decision 1; Tr. of Hr'g 6. The vehicle-owner's mother arrived shortly afterward to have it towed, and she told the officer that she had received a telephone call from the Haverfield Road residence informing her that the vehicle could be found there. Tr. of Hr'g 6-7. Having verified that the vehicle was unoccupied, the officer decided to determine whether the same was true of the residence. See id. at 7 and 17.

         {¶ 4} The officer tried knocking on the front door while shouting "Dayton Police, " as well as on an adjacent window, but nobody answered. Id. at 7-8. He then walked around to an entrance on the right side of the house, a solid white door that he found slightly ajar. See id. at 8 and 20-22. After knocking again without response, the officer pushed the door open, stepped into the house, and called out to identify himself. See id. at 9 and 22. Still receiving no response, the officer walked into the adjoining room and saw a man, later identified as Turpin, sleeping on a sofa roughly 15 to 20 feet away. Id. at 22-23.

         {¶ 5} From this vantage point, the officer observed Turpin's trousers or shorts around his ankles, and in light of his unresponsiveness, the officer suspected that Turpin might have overdosed after injecting heroin into his groin. Id. at 9-10 and 23. Turpin continued to be unresponsive to the officer's shouts, so the officer moved closer. Id. at 11 and 24. Standing within a foot or two of Turpin, the officer saw "two syringes right next to him" along with a "significant amount of cash." Id. at 11. Eventually, Turpin awoke and identified himself, after which the officer discovered an active warrant for his arrest and took him into custody. Id. at 11 and 27.

         {¶ 6} On August 15, 2016, Turpin moved the trial court to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the officer's warrantless search of his residence. Decision 1. The court held a hearing on Turpin's motion on August 31, 2016, and in the Decision, docketed on December 29, 2016, determined that although the "officer's initial entry was a constitutional violation, " the "existence of a preexisting warrant was an intervening circumstance that interrupted the connection between the unconstitutional police conduct and the discovery of [the] evidence." Decision 3. Turpin commenced the instant appeal on February 7, 2017.

         II. Analysis

         {¶ 7} Turpin's sole assignment of error is the following:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING MR. TURPIN'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS BY FINDING THAT THE ATTENUATION DOCTRINE RENDERED THE EXCLUSIONARY RULE INAPPLICABLE TO EVIDENCE SEIZED AS A RESULT OF THE ...

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