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State v. Stark

Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

May 24, 2018

STATE OF OKLAHOMA, Appellant
v.
LOUIS KILAKILA STARK, Appellee.

          AN APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF COMANCHE COUNTY THE HONORABLE GERALD F. NEUWIRTH, DISTRICT JUDGE

          FRED C. SMITH DISTRICT ATTORNEY KYLE A. CABELKA ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNSEL FOR STATE/APPELLANT

          EDDIE D. VALDEZ ATTORNEY AT LAW COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          OPINION

          ROWLAND, JUDGE

         ¶1 The State of Oklahoma charged Appellee Louis Kilakila Stark in the District Court of Comanche County, Case Number CF-2015-530, with Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Drug (Marijuana) With Intent to Distribute (Count 1) in violation of 63 O.S.Supp.2012, § 2-401, Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Cocaine) (Count 2) in violation of 63 O.S.Supp.2012, 2-402, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Count 3) in violation of 63 O.S.2011, 2-405, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm (Count 4) in violation of 21 O.S.Supp.2014, § 1283(A). The State filed a Supplemental Information alleging one prior felony conviction for sentence enhancement on Counts 1, 2, and 4. Stark filed a motion to quash the Information and Bind Over Order and to suppress the narcotics and firearms evidence, alleging the search yielding the contraband was illegal. The Honorable Gerald Neuwirth sustained on the record Stark's motion to quash and suppress on January 11, 2017, and again by written order dated January 18, 2017. The court found that the warrantless entry into the trailer house under the guise of a protective sweep was a subterfuge and amounted to an illegal search that tainted the later consent search and search conducted pursuant to a search warrant. The State of Oklahoma filed the instant appeal of the district court's order.

         ¶2 Once the cause was submitted for decision, this Court determined supplementation of the record was necessary to resolve the issues presented. We remanded the case to the district court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the police officers had permission from any lawful occupant to enter the trailer house before officers conducted a protective sweep and whether Stark's presence in the trailer house was with the permission of the home's lessee resident. The district court filed its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law after the evidentiary hearing, finding that Stark had permission to be in the trailer house from the lawful lessee resident and that no lawful occupant gave the officers permission to enter before they conducted the protective sweep of the trailer.

         ¶3 The State of Oklahoma raises four issues:

(1) The district court's order granting Appellee's Motion to Quash the Information, Quash the Arrest and to Suppress Evidence should be reversed because Appellee has not established that he has standing to challenge any search of the residence;
(2) The district court erred in its ruling that Officer Witten conducted an illegal search of the residence when it was in fact a protective sweep of the residence for the purpose of officer safety;
(3) The district court erred in its ruling that Officer Witten did not obtain proper consent from the homeowner before conducting any type of search of the residence; and
(4) The district court erred in its ruling that the actions of the officers rose to the level of misconduct requiring suppression of the evidence.

         ¶4 We reverse the district court's order and remand this matter to the district court for further proceedings for the reasons discussed below.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶5 Siya Menefee called the Lawton Police Department, on October 5, 2015, requesting assistance in retrieving her belongings from inside a trailer house where she had been living. She reported to the dispatcher and to the patrol officers who responded to her call that the men inside, out-of-town visitors of her roommate, had marijuana, cocaine, and guns. She further stated that the men would not let her inside her residence and that she feared for her safety while attempting to retrieve her belongings. Officers knocked on the door with guns drawn in a ready position, removed the men, including Stark, and then made entry for the stated purpose of a "protective sweep" based on Ms. Menefee's report of the presence of weapons in the home. The officers secured two firearms in plain view and cleared the home of occupants, with the exception of one man with mobility issues who was seated just inside the front door of the trailer house. The odor of raw marijuana was noticeable. The police informed the lessee resident, whom they had summoned home, of the presence of firearms and the odor of marijuana in her ...


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