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Wright v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

January 24, 2018

David Wright, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Blackford Circuit Court. Trial Court Cause No. 05C01-1601-F1-36 The Honorable Dean A. Young, Judge.

          Attorney for Appellant Chris M. Teagle Muncie, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Ellen H. Meilaender Supervising Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Darden, Senior Judge

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] David Wright appeals his convictions of four counts of child molestation committed by a person at least twenty-one years of age, all Level 1 felonies.[1]Concluding that the trial court erred in admitting evidence, we reverse and remand.

         Issue

         [¶2] Wright raises three issues, one of which is dispositive: Whether the trial court committed error in admitting into evidence at trial Wright's incriminating statements to police officers.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] Wright lived with a married couple, T.S. and E.S., and their five children, in Hartford City, Indiana. They shared a large apartment that was part of an older house on East Water Street that had been subdivided into separate apartments. The property owner lived in an upstairs apartment, which had an address of 220 and a half East Water Street. T.S. and E.S., and their children, lived on the main floor of the house, with Wright living in the basement, in an apartment with the address of 220 East Water Street.

         [¶4] On Friday, January 22, 2016, Special Agent Jeffrey Robertson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrived at the house with several other armed federal and state law enforcement officers. He had a federally-issued warrant from Washington, D.C., to search for child pornography on computers at 220 and a half East Water Street in Hartford City, Indiana. The resident of that apartment paid for internet service for both apartments. Robertson only learned upon arriving at the house that it had been subdivided into apartments. At that point, he decided to improvise rather than seek a second warrant for the address of 220 East Water Street.

         [¶5] When Robertson and other agents entered T.S. and E.S.'s apartment at 220 East Water Street, he gathered everyone together, including Wright, explained that he was there to investigate an allegation of child pornography, and stated that he wanted to scan their electronic devices for child pornography.

         [¶6] Robertson failed to advise the residents of the apartment that they did not have to give their consent. Further, he had written consent forms in his vehicle but, for reasons unknown, he did not use them. Instead, Robertson told them that they had two options: he could freeze the scene by removing the residents from their home (on a cold winter day) while he sought out a prosecutor for a second search warrant for their home and computers (without setting/establishing a reasonable time line as to when they could expect to be able to return home); or he could take the equipment and quickly return it as soon as possible. Wright and the others turned over their computers.

         [¶7] Robertson took the computers to a separate location, where he used a scanning program called OS Triage to detect whether the computers had been used to search for and download child pornography. Specifically, the program scans all images on a computer for digital markers, or hashtags, that indicate whether an image contains child pornography. The OS Triage program merely indicated that at least one image containing child pornography was present on one of ...


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