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Carpenter v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana

October 21, 2014

JONATHAN D. CARPENTER, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff below)

Counsel Amended October 21, 2014.

Page 999

Appeal from the Allen Superior Court, No. 02D04-1207-FD-1008. The Honorable Wendy W. Davis, Judge.

On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 02A05-1304-CR-207.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Donald C. Swanson, Jr., Andrew L. Teel, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Cynthia L. Ploughe, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Massa, Justice. Rush, C.J., and Dickson, Rucker, and David, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 1000

Massa, Justice.

Jonathan Carpenter appeals the admission of evidence recovered from his home after officers entered it without a warrant in pursuit of an aggressive and bloody dog. We are asked to decide whether that entry was reasonable. Because we find it was not, we hold that the search violated Article 1, Section 11 of our Indiana Constitution and thus we reverse the trial court.

Facts and Procedural History

On a summer afternoon, police responded to a report of dogs fighting in Carpenter's backyard. Officer Matthew Wilson of the Fort Wayne Police Department was the first to arrive on the scene. Neighbors told him that Carpenter was not home and gave him Carpenter's cell phone number. From outside the fenced yard, Officer Wilson observed three bloody pit bulls running to and from an area underneath a deck where a wounded fourth dog had retreated. Officer Tina Blackburn arrived next, followed by Sergeant Derrick Westfield. They also saw the dogs running in and out of the home through an open sliding glass door.

When Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control Officer Bryan Miller arrived, he decided to enter the yard to corral the dogs despite Sergeant Westfield's reservations. As the gate was locked, Miller jumped over the three-foot fence to remove the dogs from the yard and secure them in his vehicle. Miller caught three of the dogs, including the most severely injured one hiding under the deck, but the fourth dog went into the house and would not come out. At that point, Miller asked Sergeant Westfield to enter the house with him to retrieve the fourth dog and ensure no one was injured.

The officers knocked on the front door, but no one answered. Sergeant Westfield then announced their presence at the open sliding door in the back and asked if anyone was inside, but no one responded. They entered the home, and once inside, Miller and Sergeant Westfield noticed two doors with ventilation ducts protruding out of them and a strong light emanating from behind them. Sergeant Westfield opened the door to one of the rooms and found marijuana plants inside. Miller ...


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