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No standing to object to search of house when subject doesn’t live there

Facts

In 1996, Alvaline Baggett, a detective with the Jackson/Hinds Drug Enforcement Unit, obtained a search warrant for the premises at 1718 Gibraltar Drive. Baggett had obtained information from a confidential informant about drug activity at the residence. Upon entering the residence, Baggett and two other detectives discovered Willie Ray Wallace and another subject trying to stuff cocaine down the toilet. After both subjects were secured and taken from the bathroom, a search of the bathroom was conducted which resulted in the recovery of three packages of cocaine.

Wallace was searched and a motel key found in his sock. A third subject, also arrested in the house, advised Baggett that Wallace and another man were from Texas and were residing in the Econo Lodge inside the city limits of Jackson. Baggett and the other detectives went to the Econo Lodge and were told that two rooms were registered to Wallace, rooms 218 and 220.

The key found on Wallace at the time of his arrest was to room 220. Upon entering room 218, the officers discovered it was occupied by Arlo Arseno. Room 220 was not occupied. Both rooms were then secured by the officers so a search warrant could be obtained.

A search warrant was obtained for rooms 218 and 220. The search of room 218 turned up a residual amount of marijuana and cocaine. The search of room 220 turned up cocaine, U.S. currency, about twenty measuring cups, razor blades, baking soda, scales, and other drug paraphernalia which led to the conclusion that the room was being used as a setup lab for cooking powdered cocaine into crack cocaine.

Wallace stated he was from Houston, Texas and was asked by Joe Smith to take a trip with him out of town. Wallace stated that Arseno came along on this trip but that he did not know him. Wallace further stated that Smith paid for everything on the trip including the motel rooms. According to Wallace, Smith claimed he did not have an ID to rent a room so he asked Wallace to place the room in his name.

Wallace stated he signed and registered for only room 218 and not room 220. Wallace produced the motel receipts which showed he signed for room 218 but not 220, which had been signed by Arseno. Wallace testified he never even went into room 220. Wallace claimed Arseno rented room 220 for Smith and an unknown female. Additionally, Wallace stated that he was in possession of the key for room 220 but only because Smith had asked him to hold it.

Wallace was convicted of possession of cocaine and sentenced to three years. On appeal, he argued that the search of 1718 Gibraltar Drive was defective, and since it was that search which resulted in the discovery and search of rooms 218 and 220, all evidence obtained from the search of the motel rooms should be suppressed as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” MCOA affirmed.

Analysis

There were three search warrants in this case, one for 1718 Gibraltar Drive and two for the rooms at the Econo Lodge. With regard to the search of the residence on Gibraltar Drive, Wallace admitted at the suppression hearing that he had no standing to complain of the search of the house.

Furthermore at the suppression hearing, Wallace made no attempt to present evidence upon which a claim of standing in the residence could be based. Wallace never claimed he owned or possessed the premises on Gibraltar Drive nor did he claim any expectation of privacy at the residence. As such, Wallace cannot now complain about the search of the house or evidence seized from the house.

MSC said in Turner v State, 573 So. 2d 657 (Miss. 1990), that a person who is aggrieved by an illegal search and seizure only through the introduction of damaging evidence secured by a search of a third person’s premises or property has not had any of his Fourth Amendment rights infringed.

Wallace had no standing. Accordingly, the evidence seized as a result of the search of the house was properly introduced into evidence. As stated above, the evidence obtained at the house standing alone was sufficient to convict Wallace of possession of cocaine. Therefore, whether or not the warrants for the search of rooms 218 and 220 were defective or not is moot.

Nevertheless, the evidence found at the house could be and properly was introduced at trial; therefore, the evidence could also properly be used to validate the search warrants for rooms 218 and 220. The evidence obtained as a result of the search of rooms 218 and 220 was not “fruit of the poisonous tree.”

The evidence seized from rooms 218 and 220 came from valid search warrants premised on evidence of which Wallace had no right to object. Since valid search warrants based on probable cause existed for rooms 218 and 220 and since the evidence seized was not “fruit of the poisonous tree” the evidence obtained therefrom could properly be introduced at trial.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/Opinions/Conv6684.pdf