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Jimmy Dean Smallfoot v. the State of Wyoming

March 16, 2012

JIMMY DEAN SMALLFOOT, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable Dan R. Price II, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Golden, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] Appellant Jimmy Dean Smallfoot entered a conditional guilty plea to a charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He reserved the right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress the marijuana discovered inside his residence. Smallfoot claims the drug evidence should have been suppressed because it was the fruit of a constitutionally infirm warrantless entry into his home. We disagree and affirm the district court's suppression ruling.

ISSUE

[¶2] Smallfoot offers this issue for our consideration:

Did the trial court err in denying Appellant's motion to suppress evidence obtained in the warrantless search of his residence?

FACTS*fn1

[¶3] Around the latter part of July 2010 the Gillette Police Department received information that Elisha Gengozian was selling marijuana from a house located on West Juniper Lane. In the course of their investigation, police observed Gengozian regularly entering and leaving the residence. Police eventually decided to speak with Gengozian regarding the alleged drug activities.

[¶4] On August 6, 2010, Detective Derek Weinhardt executed a traffic stop of a vehicle in which Gengozian was a passenger. Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Brent Wasson*fn2 and a canine unit arrived at the scene. The canine was directed around the vehicle and alerted to the presence of controlled substances. When Gengozian was removed from the vehicle and frisked, police found marijuana on his person.

[¶5] After being advised of his Miranda rights, Gengozian agreed to speak with Detective Weinhardt and Lieutenant Wasson. Gengozian informed the officers that he and his roommate, Kalvin, who both lived at the house on West Juniper Lane, had been selling marijuana to earn money to move to Denver, Colorado. Gengozian stated that he lived at the residence with his stepfather, Smallfoot, and that he had been paying Smallfoot rent from the proceeds of the marijuana sales. Gengozian reported that Smallfoot was fully aware of his drug activities.

[¶6] In addition, Gengozian reported that he had additional marijuana, as well as approximately $1,500.00 in proceeds from his drug sales, secreted in the home on West Juniper. He agreed to take the officers there and gave them permission to enter the premises to retrieve the marijuana and proceeds. A consent form to that effect was prepared as the officers and Gengozian arrived at the residence.

[¶7] While the officers and Gengozian were approaching the house on foot, Smallfoot exited the residence. Gengozian pointed and yelled at Smallfoot, and Smallfoot reentered the home. Although neither Detective Weinhardt nor Lieutenant Wasson saw Smallfoot at that time, they observed Gengozian pointing and yelling at someone outside the home and learned from Gengozian that the person was Smallfoot.

[ΒΆ8] Lieutenant Wasson informed Gengozian that, in light of the circumstances, they needed to enter the house immediately, and Gengozian agreed to let them do so. To facilitate that entry, Gengozian opened a door into a large area of the lower level of the residence that appeared to be both a living room and a bedroom. Once inside, the officers saw Smallfoot running toward them from an adjacent room carrying several small bags of ...


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