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Darring v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 2, 2018

Christopher Darring, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 49G20-1408-F3-41089 The Honorable Shatrese M. Flowers, Judge The Honorable Peggy Ryan Hart, Magistrate

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT James H. Voyles, Jr. Tyler D. Helmond Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Tyler G. Banks Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          ALTICE, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Christopher Darring brings this interlocutory appeal of the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained as the result of a search of his home. Specifically, he contends that the probable cause affidavit used to secure the search warrant contained false information and material omissions in reckless disregard for the truth.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts & Procedural History

         [¶3] After 2:00 in the morning on August 22, 2014, Officer Dwayne May of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) was dispatched to 3132 W. 61st Street. He was responding to Darring's 911 call indicating that another man - later identified as Jason Holland, his next-door neighbor - was drunk and trying to start an altercation with Darring. Officer May spoke with both men briefly and learned that the argument was about money. Before leaving, he instructed them to stop acting like children, work it out, and sober up.

         [¶4] Around the same time the next morning, Holland called 911 to report that Darring had shot him.[1] Officer May was again dispatched to the scene. He parked along the road between the two properties and immediately smelled the odor of burnt marijuana after getting out of his vehicle. Officer May first spoke with Holland, who was intoxicated and had an injury to his leg. Officer May did not smell marijuana on Holland's person.

         [¶5] After speaking with Holland, Officer May walked up the driveway toward Darring's house. Darring came out the front door and met Officer May in the driveway about twenty feet from the door. Officer May could smell the odor of raw marijuana, which he believed was coming from the house. He also smelled the odor of burnt marijuana on Darring's person as they spoke. Darring admitted shooting at the pavement to get Holland to leave his property. Officer May then asked Darring for identification and the two walked onto the front porch. Darring opened the storm door and then slightly opened the main door before closing it and telling Officer May that he did not want him to come inside. At that time, Officer May smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the house. Officer May then placed Darring under arrest for criminal recklessness for the shooting incident.

         [¶6] Additional IMPD officers arrived at the scene to assist. Several noticed the strong odor of raw marijuana near the house. Each time the exhaust fan on top of the house kicked on, the marijuana smell became stronger outside. Additionally, two potted marijuana plants were located directly behind Darring's shed and marijuana pieces - referred to as shake - were discovered along the fence line between the Darring's and Holland's properties. Darring had several surveillance cameras around the outside of his house, one of which Officer May took down at some point.

         [¶7] Officer May called for a narcotics detective because he believed Darring had a grow operation inside the house. IMPD Sergeant Stephan Crooke arrived on the scene around 4:30 a.m. and spoke with Officer May and then Holland. Holland told Sergeant Crooke about the incident and then informed him that he had been in Darring's house the prior week and observed thirty pounds of marijuana. Holland indicated that he had been in Darring's house several times and had smoked marijuana with Darring inside the house before. Darring, who was handcuffed outside, refused to speak with Sergeant Crooke. Sergeant Crooke then knocked on the front door and walked around the house. In addition to smelling a strong odor of raw marijuana near the shed and fence line, Sergeant Crooke could smell it coming from inside the house. Based on his training and experience Sergeant Crooke felt confident that there was "probably a grow in there possibly, or a large amount" of raw marijuana inside. Transcript Vol. III at 44.

         [¶8] After gathering information from the scene, Sergeant Crooke returned to his office to prepare a probable cause affidavit for a search warrant. The affidavit written by Crooke read, in relevant part, as follows:

On 8/23/2014 at approximately 2:12 AM, Officer D. May and Officer S Greene received a run to a person shot at 3132 W 61stSt. When Officer May arrived he spoke with the victim, a Jason Holland. Holland stated that his neighbor, Chris Darring, had shot at him with a semi automatic handgun while the two were in the yard between their residences. Chris Darring ...

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