Although the statements from three individuals were hearsay and initially led law enforcement to enter the wrong apartment, a split Indiana Court of Appeals found, collectively, the information supported probable cause.
Brian Bradley was convicted of Class D felony dealing in marijuana after Ripley County law enforcement, based on tips from informants, entered his apartment and found marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Officers learned Bradley was selling marijuana from a woman they arrested for possession of marijuana. The woman told officers she purchased the marijuana from a man nicknamed Shrek but, according to friends, was actually named Brian. She said he lived on the second floor of an antiques store in Batesville.
At 1:24 a.m., police entered the second-floor residence but found the apartment belonged to a couple. Separately, the couple told officers they had also purchased marijuana from Shrek, also known as Brian, who lived on the third floor.
A few hours later, police were able to obtain another warrant and searched Bradley’s apartment.
At a hearing on Bradley’s motion to suppress evidence, the woman changed her testimony, saying she never directly bought marijuana from Brian, but rather her friends did so for her.
Later in the trial, the man who lived in the second-floor apartment backtracked from his original statements to police, saying he never purchased drugs directly from Bradley.
However, the Court of Appeals found the warrants were legal because they were based on what police knew at the time and not on the statements the informants gave in court. That information, the COA ruled, was enough to support Bradley’s conviction for Class D felony dealing in marijuana.
“We find that (Ripley County Sheriff’s Department) Detective (Abraham) Hildebrand’s probable-cause affidavit contains information that establishes that the totality of the circumstances corroborates the hearsay,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the majority in Brian Bradley v. State of Indiana, 69A04-1306-CR-268. “…Here, there are bits and pieces of evidence tending to show probable cause that marijuana would be found in Brian’s third-floor apartment. Although each declarant, standing alone, may not have conclusively established probable cause, the evidence in the affidavit, when fitted together and viewed collectively, is sufficient to support the trial court’s finding of probable cause.”
Judge Patricia Riley dissented finding probable cause did not exist for the probable cause affidavit. The only details corroborated by all three informants are the name and nickname of the individual from whom marijuana was purchased. Also, the police did not substantiate the information and material facts are missing from the affidavit.
“In cases like this – where the officers ultimately found marijuana, but only did so by disregarding the mandates of probable cause – our justice system pays the price,” Riley wrote. “The ‘privacy of all Hoosiers’ is put in jeopardy when constitutional protections are circumvented in order to secure evidence.”