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Byers v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 24, 2019

Galen Byers, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Court of Appeals Case No. 19A-CR-246 Appeal from the Jay Circuit Court The Honorable Brian D. Hutchison Trial Court Cause No. 38C01-1806-F2-13 Tavitas, Judge.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Brandon E. Murphy Muncie, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Samuel J. Dayton Deputy Attorney General.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Galen Byers, on interlocutory appeal, appeals the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress. We affirm.

         Issue

         [¶2] Byers raises one issue for our review, which we restate as whether the trial court erred in denying Byers' motion to suppress because the warrant to search his home was allegedly constitutionally stale.

         Facts

         [¶3] Marcie Vormohr was Byers' neighbor in Portland, Indiana. In May 2018, Vormohr was mowing her yard when she noticed something in her yard; after an inspection, Vormohr realized it was a drone.[1] Vormohr noticed that the drone also had a computer drive attached. Vormohr purchased a reader for the device and plugged the device into her home computer to determine the owner of the drone.

         [¶4] Vormohr found video footage on the drive, that depicted a woman "tak[ing] out a white [ ] baggie, a small baggie with white powder substance in it, [and a] cut off straw, and [Vormohr] found that to probably be drugs." Tr. Vol. II p. 8. Vormohr also identified Byers on the video, whom she recognized as her neighbor. After observing the video footage, Vormohr turned the device and the drone over to law enforcement due to the video's contents and because she previously had an issue with drones being flown over her property.[2] Vormohr testified that she could not remember the exact date she turned the materials over to law enforcement; however, she believed that it "may have been one or two days" after she discovered the drone. Id. at 7.

         [¶5] Officer Cody Jessee with the Jay County Sheriff's Department testified that he received the drone and, on May 14, 2018, reviewed the video footage. Officer Jessee observed that the video's last modified date was May 10, 2018, at 9:32 a.m. Based on Officer Jessee's review of the video footage, Officer Jessee believed the woman on the video was in possession of illegal substances. Officer Jessee also observed Byers flying the drone on the video. After reviewing the video footage, Officer Jessee obtained a search warrant for Byers' home.

         [¶6] A search of Byers' home on May 14, 2018, revealed several drug paraphernalia items, including "snorting devices containing a powder like substance in them"; "several empty baggies containing a paw print sticker";[3] an unlocked safe with "a scattered crystal like substance as well as a cut straw containing a crystal like substance." Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 13. In a locked safe, which officers opened, they discovered "a Glock 30 gen 4, .45 Cal[iber handgun]. . . . [and] four empty plastic baggies baring [sic] the paw print sticker;" "green plastic baggie with a crystal like substance," which weighed .8 grams in its packaging and tested positive for methamphetamine when field tested. Id. at 13-14. Officers also found $160.00 in twenty-dollar bills in the safe and an "ink stamp and pad and stamp of a paw print" in Byers' bedroom. Id. at 14.

         [¶7] In the living room, officers uncovered "several burnt foils which are used in the consumption of methamphetamine"; a "digital scale under the couch and a glass bowl," which contained a "crushed crystal like substance and a cut red straw" that tested positive for methamphetamine when field tested. Id. Officers also found with "several feminine items," three cut straws, and three plastic baggies "containing a residue." Id. A search of the bathroom yielded $3, 684.00 of cash inside a makeup bag; a box containing baggies with a crystal like substance; and more cut straws. The three baggies weighed approximately 2.4 grams in their packaging and tested positive for methamphetamine when field tested. Officers believed these items to belong to Jennifer Cook-a woman who was at Byers' home when officers arrived.

         [¶8] Finally, officers found more burnt foils, burnt marijuana "roaches," snorting devices, another digital scale;[4] and another 2.4 grams of methamphetamine "in its original packaging"; and another weapon loaded with a magazine and additional magazines ...


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