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State v. Chute

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 21, 2016

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Quentin Todd Chute, Appellant.

         Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-11-9695.

         Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Adam E. Petras, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Steven P. Russett, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Cleary, Chief Judge; Worke, Judge; and Ross, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         When a police officer enters the curtilage of a home for the purpose of conducting a warrantless search, the officer's position within the curtilage is not lawful and the warrantless search violates the Fourth Amendment.

          OPINION

          CLEARY, Chief Judge

         Appellant Quentin Todd Chute challenges his conviction for receiving stolen property. Appellant argues that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the warrantless search of his property, by denying his motion to dismiss for violation of his speedy-trial right, and by holding that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

         FACTS

         On October 22, 2011, B.W.F. called the police to report that he located the camper that he had reported stolen in July 2011. An officer met B.W.F. near a residential property on County Road D in Maplewood. The property had two driveways. The first was at least partially asphalt and led to a garage, and the second was dirt and appeared to be used by cars carrying persons seeking a backdoor entrance to the house and garage. B.W.F. pointed out his camper to the officer from a location on County Road D at the end of the dirt driveway. The officer confirmed that the make and model of the camper matched those of the camper that B.W.F. had reported stolen.

         The officer parked his squad in the dirt driveway and walked with B.W.F. down the driveway toward the camper. Before arriving at the camper, B.W.F. told the officer that he had repaired the front of the camper, leaving a unique set of bolts. These bolts were visible from the dirt driveway. At a spot on the driveway next to the camper, the officer could determine that its license plate was removed. The camper's vehicle identification number (VIN) was also removed. The officer called the camper's manufacturer to determine if the VIN was stamped in another location, learned that a partial VIN was stamped on the metal frame, and located the partial VIN, which matched the VIN of the camper stolen from B.W.F. The officer went into the camper and located an item of personal property belonging to B.W.F.

         The officer heard a noise coming from the garage, walked to the garage door, and knocked. Appellant answered and identified himself as the property owner. When the officer asked appellant if he owned the camper, appellant said he was storing it for a friend. Appellant consented to the officer's request to search the garage. After finding personal property from the camper in the garage, the officer asked appellant for permission to search the basement and house. Appellant consented, and additional items of personal property from the camper were found in the basement and house.

         The State of Minnesota charged appellant with receiving stolen property. Appellant moved to suppress all evidence obtained by police as a result of the warrantless search and to dismiss for violation of his speedy-trial right. The district court denied appellant's suppression motion, holding that the officer's warrantless search of the camper was permissible under the plain-view doctrine and that appellant consented to the searches of his garage, basement, and house. The district court also denied appellant's motion to dismiss for violation of his speedy-trial right. After a trial, the jury found appellant guilty of receiving stolen property. Appellant filed a motion for a judgment of acquittal, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction. The district court denied appellant's motion. This appeal followed.

         ISSUES

         I. Did the district court err by denying appellant's motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the warrantless search of his property?

         II. Did the district court err by denying appellant's motion to dismiss for denial of his right to a speedy trial?

         III. Did the district court err by holding that the evidence was sufficient to convict ...


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