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Croucher v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 10, 2014

LARRY K. CROUCHER II, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

Editorial Note:

These opinions are not precedents and cannot be cited or relied upon unless used when establishing res judicata or collateral estoppel or in actions between the same party. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 65(D).

APPEAL FROM THE BLACKFORD SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable John Nicholas Barry, Judge. Cause No. 05D01-1203-FD-87.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: BRUCE C. BADE, Bade and Bade, Hartford City, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, GEORGE P. SHERMAN, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

KIRSCH, Judge. FRIEDLANDER, J., and BAILEY, J., concur.

OPINION

MEMORANDUM DECISION - NOT FOR PUBLICATION

KIRSCH, Judge.

Following a jury trial, Larry K. Croucher II (" Croucher" ) appeals his conviction for maintaining a common nuisance,[1] a Class D felony. On appeal, Croucher raises the following consolidated and restated issue: whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence at trial that was obtained pursuant to a warrantless search.

We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In March 2012, Croucher lived with his girlfriend Meredith Collins (" Collins" ) and her seventeen-year-old daughter, B.C., in Collins's home (" the Collins home" ), which was located on West Windsor Street in Montpelier, Indiana. Montpelier Police Officer Matthew Mansfield (" Officer Mansfield" ), who had an arrest warrant for Collins's son Allen Lamb (" Lamb" ), had been to the Collins home on prior occasions and knew that Lamb's family lived there.[2] Tr . at 22.[3] On the night of March 15, 2012, after learning from a known confidential informant that Lamb was at the Collins home, Officer Mansfield and at least three other law enforcement officers surrounded the Collins home around 2:30 a.m.[4] From outside the residence, Officer Mansfield saw Lamb in the kitchen and called his name through the open kitchen window. Lamb, who had initially moved toward the window, turned and ran to a room in the back of the house. Officer Mansfield immediately went to the front door, which was ajar, and started knocking, declaring it was the police, " telling them to let [him] in," and saying he " just saw wanted subject. I know he's in there." Id. at 84. " Shining [his] light through the crack in the door [he could] see a couple pairs of legs standing there," and, " [a]s he pounded on the front door, it opened. Id.

After entering the Collins home, police looked for Lamb in several rooms. Lamb was arrested after police found him hiding in B.C.'s bedroom behind a dresser. On that dresser, and in plain view, Officer Mansfield saw items that he believed to be related to illegal drug use. Officer Mansfield spoke to B.C. because he believed she was involved with the drugs. During that conversation, Officer Mansfield noted that B.C. had scabs on her arms, a condition he recognized as being consistent with drug use. Officer Mansfield then asked Collins for permission to search her home for any other drug-related items. Collins told him to get a search warrant.

Other officers secured the premises, and Officer Mansfield went outside. While Officer Mansfield was talking on the phone trying to obtain a search warrant, Collins came outside and asked him how long it would take to obtain the warrant. Officer Mansfield said, " I told you before, you know, I have to get a search warrant and it's going to take quite a while to do this" . . . " unless you want to give me your consent." Id. at 93. Collins stated she would discuss it with Croucher and went inside her home. When she returned, about five minutes later, Collins agreed to sign a Consent to Search (" Consent Form" ).[5] Prior to ...


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