The Allen County man who tried to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that law enforcement shouldn’t have searched his trash and been allowed to obtain a warrant based on evidence from that trash lost his appeal Wednesday.
Terrence Fuqua was implicated by two people arrested in connection with a cocaine-dealing investigation and a confidential informant that Fuqua was a cocaine dealer. Stephanie McCarter and Donald Stover, in separate and then in a joint interview with detective Darrick Engelman indentified Fuqua as one of their cocaine dealers.
Detective Dain Strayer received the anonymous tip about Fuqua. The two men shared their acquired information on Fuqua. They later drove by Fuqua’s home and saw his trash outside to be collected. The detectives took two bags and found crack pipes and other paraphernalia dealing with cocaine. They also observed activities consistent with narcotics trafficking from Fuqua’s home.
They later got a search warrant for Fuqua’s home and found large amounts of cocaine, marijuana and other paraphernalia. Fuqua was charged with Class A felony dealing in cocaine, Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, Class D felony possession of a controlled substance, Class D felony dealing in marijuana, and Class A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. Fuqua sought to suppress all evidence from the search warrant, but the trial court denied his request. He was convicted as charged.
In Terrence J. Fuqua v. State of Indiana, 02A03-1207-CR-342, Fuqua argued that the detectives didn’t have reasonable suspicion to search his trash and that the warrant wasn’t supported by probable cause.
The COA found that the trash pull was not based solely on the anonymous tip as Fuqua had argued, but also was based on the interviews with McCarter and Stovall. The information relayed by all three informants was enough for the detectives to reasonably suspect that Fuqua was engaged in criminal activity, Judge Paul Mathias wrote, meaning the trash pull was constitutionally permissible under the Indiana Constitution.
Fuqua also claimed there was no probable cause to serve as a basis for the search warrant as the informants relied upon weren’t credible. But their statements that Fuqua was dealing cocaine were corroborated by the evidence the detectives found during the trash pull. Also, the detectives observed activity consistent with drug dealing around Fuqua’s home.
“We conclude that the totality of the circumstances personally known to the detectives (as described in the affidavit) sufficiently corroborated the informants’ hearsay statements. Under the facts and circumstances before us, the search warrant was supported by probable cause. For this reason, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted the evidence seized during the execution of the search warrant for Fuqua’s residence,” Mathias wrote.