Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-10-8991
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Kaarin Long, Assistant County Attorney, Ralph J. Detrick (certified student attorney), St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jessica Merz Godes, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Larkin, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
Appellant challenges the district court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence obtained during execution of a search warrant. Because the warrant was supported by probable cause and authorization for the unannounced, nighttime search was supported by reasonable suspicion, we affirm.
On July 7, 2010, Farmington Police Detective Shawn Scovill applied for a warrant to search a residence at 171 Annapolis Street East, St. Paul and the person of R.Y. The supporting affidavit stated that in the week preceding the warrant application, a confidential informant (CI) told Detective Scovill that V.C. was selling large amounts of methamphetamine. The CI also informed Detective Scovill that V.C. regularly stayed at three different residences, including one on Annapolis Street in St. Paul. After receiving this information, Detective Scovill arranged for the CI to conduct a controlled buy of methamphetamine from V.C. The warrant application describes the controlled buy as follows:
Within the past 72 hours, at your affiant's direction, a controlled buy of suspected methamphetamine was made by the CI from [V.C.]. Your affiant met the CI at a predetermined location where he/she and he/she's vehicle were searched for controlled substances, contraband, and large amounts of money with none found. Your affiant provided the CI with an amount of prerecorded government buy fund money to purchase the suspected methamphetamine. Your affiant followed the CI to a predetermined location. The CI did not stop or meet with any other individuals prior to arriving at the location. At this location agents of the Dakota County Drug Task Force observed [V.C.] get into the CI's vehicle. [V.C.] then directed the CI to drive to 171 Annapolis Street East, St. Paul MN 55107. Again agents of the Dakota County Drug Task Force had the CI under constant surveillance and the CI did not stop or meet with any other individuals prior to arriving at this address. At this location the CI and [V.C.] approached the side entrance of the residence whereupon the CI observed an unknown Hispanic male individual provide [V.C.] with an amount of suspected methamphetamine. The CI then gave [V.C.] the government buy fund money. The CI was then followed back to the predetermined location where he/she turned over to my custody a quantity of suspected methamphetamine that had been purchased from [V.C.] at 171 Annapolis Street East, St. Paul MN 55107. The CI and the CI's vehicle were then again searched for controlled substances, contraband, and large amounts of money with none found.
Detective Scovill interviewed the CI following the controlled buy. The CI stated that he/she had been to the residence at 171 Annapolis on two occasions within the previous four months, knew the owner of the residence as "RAFA, " and, on one occasion, watched "RAFA" remove approximately five pounds of methamphetamine from a kitchen pan. Agents with the St. Paul Narcotics Unit identified R.Y. as a possible match for the address and nickname. The CI positively identified R.Y., from a driver's license photograph, as the individual who gave methamphetamine to V.C. during the controlled buy.
In the application to search 171 Annapolis, Detective Scovill sought authorization for "[a] nighttime search . . . to use the cover of darkness for officer safety purposes and to avoid officers being seen or compromised as well as to prevent the destruction of evidence" and "an unannounced entry to prevent the occupants of the residence from gaining access to firearms or other dangerous weapons." Detective Scovill attested that "one of the neighbors is related to a target of the investigation and therefore may warn the occupants of the residence if law enforcement is observed approaching the residence." He also attested that V.C. had been convicted of a felony and had been arrested for first-degree murder, second-degree assault, first-degree assault, possession of an incendiary device, a fifth-degree controlled substance crime, carrying a weapon without a permit, possession of a firearm by a felon, aggravated robbery, obstructing legal process, and fleeing police in a motor vehicle. Detective Scovill further attested that R.Y. had been convicted of a felony and had been arrested for first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, a fifth-degree controlled substance crime, and obstructing legal process. The district court issued a no-knock, nighttime search warrant for the residence at 171 Annapolis, which included authorization to search R.Y.
At approximately 6:00 a.m. on July 13, members of the St. Paul SWAT team and Dakota County Drug Task Force made an unannounced, forced entry into the residence at 171 Annapolis. When the officers arrived to execute the warrant, appellant Gilbert Anthony Castillo was taking out the garbage. When the officers attempted to restrain him, he started yelling that his nephew was asleep on the floor in the residence. After the officers entered the residence, they brought its occupants into the dining room and kept them there while officers searched the residence. Detective Scovill presented the search warrant to the homeowner, N.C. N.C. 's daughter informed the officers that R.Y. lived next door. The police found .15 grams of methamphetamine in the residence. Castillo admitted that the methamphetamine was his.
Respondent State of Minnesota charged Castillo with fifth-degree controlled substance possession. The state also charged another resident, Robert Franco, with possession of a firearm by an ineligible person. Franco moved to suppress the evidence obtained during the search, arguing that the warrant was not supported by probable cause. At a hearing on his motion, Franco argued that the detectives had listed the wrong address to be searched in the warrant application, because R.Y. lived next door to 171 Annapolis. The district court conducted an in camera interview of the CI, who identified 171 Annapolis in a photograph as the residence where the controlled buy had occurred. The district court concluded that there was probable cause for the warrant and denied Franco's motion to suppress.
Later, Castillo's case came on for a hearing. Our review of the record does not reveal a motion to suppress by Castillo. Instead, he agreed that he was bound by the district court's suppression ruling in Franco's case. The district ...