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Judges find evidence properly admitted in drug case

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North Manchester resident Michael Carpenter lost his attempt before the Indiana Court of Appeals to have evidence tossed out that was collected when police officers arrived at his home attempting to serve an arrest warrant for a different man. Police believed the man being sought lived at Carpenter’s residence.

Wabash County Sheriff’s deputies were attempting to serve an arrest warrant for Austin Howard. The arrest warrant for Howard listed his last known address as an intersection in the county. Deputies asked North Manchester police officer Jeremy Jones to assist with the address. Jones told deputies Howard lived at a nearby house. Frank and Emily Price now live at that home with Carpenter.

When deputies arrived to serve the warrant, Deputy Matthew Cox saw something come out of a side window to the bathroom. He saw several people in the bathroom, including Carpenter, who was dumping something into the toilet. Cox yelled to stop and that he was a police officer. Officers saw what they believed were items used to make methamphetamine in the bathroom. They obtained a search warrant and later arrested Carpenter.

He was charged with Class B felony conspiracy to commit dealing in meth and Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance, but he was only convicted of the drug charge. Carpenter’s attorney made repeated objections to the initial search.

In Michael Carpenter v. State of Indiana, 85A05-1202-CR-57, Carpenter argued that police didn’t have a legitimate reason for being on the property because Howard had not lived at the property for a couple of years and the officers did not have reason to believe that Howard was at the property. Carpenter also claimed that Cox’s initial entry into the side yard, looking into the window, and returning to the window with another deputy was unlawful.

The Court of Appeals wasn’t persuaded by Carpenter’s claims his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The judges concluded the arrest warrant was valid and the officers had the authority to walk around the curtilage, where they could notice things in plain view such as through a bathroom window, Judge Michael Barnes wrote.

The appellate court also found that Carpenter waived his state constitutional argument, but even if he hadn’t, he would not prevail.  

 

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