Appeal from the District Court of Albany County. The Honorable Jeffrey A. Donnell, Judge.
Representing Appellant: Linda E. Devine, Devine Law, Laramie, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Abigail C. Boudewyns, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Boudewyns.
Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE, DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.
[¶1] Appellant Caleb Campbell entered a conditional guilty plea to felony possession of marijuana, reserving his right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence under Wyoming Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(a)(2). We remand to the district court for further consideration of that motion in accordance with this opinion.
[¶2] Campbell raises three questions relating to his underlying claim that police officers obtained evidence against him in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We restate and reorder those questions as follows:
1. Did the initial entry into Appellant's home fall within the " emergency assistance" exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement?
2. Did Appellant voluntarily consent to the search of the bedrooms and bathrooms in his home?
3. If the initial entry into Appellant's home violated the Fourth Amendment, did that illegality impermissibly taint any consent to a later search?
[¶3] On February 24, 2013, the Laramie Police Department received a telephone call from Shannon Homolka, who asked that an officer check on her son, Sean. She had not heard from him for several weeks. Sergeant Austin and a patrol officer were dispatched to the apartment building that was the young man's last known residence. They observed interior coverings on the windows of the apartment and saw footprints in the snow at the entrance. Lights were on inside, and when the officers stepped to the door, they could hear a television and the barking of what they perceived to be an excited dog. No one responded when Sergeant Austin knocked and rang the doorbell.
[¶4] Austin tried the door and found that it was unlocked, opened it approximately two to three feet, called out for Sean Homolka, and identified himself as a police officer. He saw a blue glass bong on a counter top that
separated the apartment's living room and kitchen. When no one answered or appeared, he closed the door, knocked on it, rang the bell a few more times, and then decided to phone Ms. Homolka to obtain more information.
[¶5] She informed him that she had not spoken to her son since mid-November of 2012, and that a gift sent to him by his grandparents had been returned because he failed to pick it up from the post office. She had phoned Campbell, who shared the apartment with her son, but he refused to give her any information about Sean or his whereabouts. She suggested that the sergeant might find Campbell at the local Pizza Hut where he and her son had worked together.
[¶6] The officers proceeded to the restaurant, where they encountered a young man who told them he had been snowboarding with Sean Homolka earlier that day, and that Campbell was expected to return shortly from a pizza delivery. When Campbell arrived, he told the officers that Homolka had moved to Casper, but that he was visiting Laramie and staying at Campbell's apartment at the time. Sergeant Austin mentioned that he had seen bongs in the apartment and cautioned Campbell to " clean up his act" and get rid of them, but he also advised him that they intended to overlook that violation and that they only wanted to speak to Homolka about his mother's concerns. Campbell agreed to get in touch with Homolka, and the officers asked Campbell to meet them with Homolka at the apartment.
[¶7] When the officers reached the apartment, Campbell met them on the sidewalk and told them Homolka would arrive shortly. Sergeant Austin asked him if he had gotten rid of the drug paraphernalia. Campbell said that he had, retrieved a white trash bag, and broke its contents in front of the officers. However, when Austin examined the contents, he saw no trace of the blue glass bong that had been in the apartment and asked Campbell about it. Campbell became nervous, told the sergeant he had not been completely honest, brought that bong outside and broke it. Sergeant Austin then asked if he had anything else, and when Campbell said he had a little marijuana, Austin asked, " Want to get rid of it?" Campbell responded ...