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Buford v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 24, 2015

Antyon Buford, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

Appeal from the Elkhart Superior Court; The Honorable George Biddlecome, Judge; 20D03-1305-FA-25.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Ross G. Thomas, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Ellen H. Meilaender, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

OPINION

Page 912

May, Judge.

[¶1] Antyon Buford appeals his convictions of Class A felony dealing cocaine,[1] Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon,[2] and Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance.[3] As the warrant on which the search of his residence was premised was not supported by probable cause, we reverse and remand.[4]

Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] Elkhart police received information from an " intelligence form," (Tr. at 27), the prosecutor's office provided that there might be drug activity at a residence Buford was renting. The source of the information was not identified. The tip named Johnny Stewart, who had an open arrest warrant, in connection with the activity. Police went to the residence, where the screen door was shut but the front interior door was open. They smelled burnt marijuana as they approached the front door and saw Buford and Stewart just inside the door. Stewart and Buford ran when the officers knocked on the door and identified themselves, but when the officers continued knocking Stewart came to the door. Stewart told the police Buford was the tenant.

[¶3] Buford came downstairs after Stewart called for him to do so. He provided identification to the police, and they determined there was a warrant for Buford's arrest. They entered the residence and handcuffed Buford and Stewart. The odor of marijuana was stronger inside the house, and the officers saw marijuana " shake" [5] on the dining room table. ( Id. at 45.) One of the officers left to obtain a search warrant.

[¶4] The probable cause affidavit on which the search warrant was premised stated the affiant officer had good cause to believe evidence of drug " dealing" would be found at the residence. (App. at 92.) The warrant was issued and during the search police found a gun, bullets, marijuana roaches, a scale with white residue that field-tested positive for cocaine, a white rock that appeared to be cocaine, and plastic baggies with the corners cut off. Buford moved to suppress evidence on the ground there were false and misleading statements in the probable cause affidavit and the police began to search before the warrant was issued. His motion was denied. A trial was conducted and the jury found Buford guilty of all counts.

Discussion and Decision

[¶5] Buford argues the evidence obtained pursuant to the search warrant should have been suppressed because the affidavit the police offered in obtaining the warrant included uncorroborated hearsay and false or misleading statements. As the probable cause affidavit included hearsay

Page 913

information that was not corroborated by the totality of the circumstances, the warrant ...


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