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State v. Worley

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

July 18, 2017

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
ALFRED FRANKLIN WORLEY

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 5 April 2017.

         Appeal by defendant from order entered 21 April 2016 by Judge Mark E. Powell in Transylvania County, Transylvania County, Nos. 14 CRS 052254-55, 52257-64; 15 CRS 109, 50040, 50069, 50072-73 Superior Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Phillip Reynolds, for the State.

          Stephen G. Driggers for defendant-appellant.

          ELMORE, Judge.

         Alfred Franklin Worley (defendant) was convicted by a jury of multiple counts of felony breaking and entering, larceny, and possession of stolen goods. He appeals from an order denying his motion to suppress evidence seized during the executions of warrants to search his rental cabin and truck for stolen goods.

         Four days after a reported breaking and entering of a horse trailer and larceny of six identified items of horse tack, a deputy applied for and was issued warrants to search defendant's rental cabin and his truck for the horse tack. The search of the rental cabin yielded the stolen horse tack and other incriminating evidence justifying a second search of the cabin. Defendant was later arrested.

         Defendant moved to suppress the evidence seized during the searches of his cabin, arguing the warrants lacked probable cause because the deputy's affidavit underlying both search warrants established no nexus between defendant's rental cabin and the reported breaking and entering and larceny. The trial court concluded the affidavit established probable cause and entered an order denying defendant's suppression motion.

         On appeal, defendant argues again the warrants to search his cabin for the missing horse tack lacked probable cause because the underlying affidavit failed to establish a nexus between the criminal activity and his rental cabin. Because we hold that under the totality of the circumstances, the accumulation of reasonable inferences drawn from information contained within the affidavit sufficiently linked the criminal activity to defendant's cabin, and thus demonstrated the magistrate had a substantial basis to conclude that probable cause existed to issue the warrants, we affirm the trial court's order.

         I. Background

         On 28 December 2014, Deputy Matthew C. Owen of the Transylvania County Sheriff's Office (TCSO) applied for warrants to search defendant's truck and rental cabin for identified items of horse tack reported missing after a breaking and entering of a horse trailer on 441 Sugar Loaf Road. Deputy Owen's supporting affidavit revealed the following information.

         On 25 December 2014, deputies of the TCSO responded to a reported breaking and entering of a horse trailer located at 441 Sugar Loaf Road and discovered that horse tack worth approximately $1, 135.00 was missing and last seen the previous morning. On 27 December 2014, Mrs. McCall, one of the property's owners, called the TCSO about the incident and reported that defendant was a likely suspect of the breaking and entering and larceny. She told Deputy Owen that defendant moved to Florida about one year ago, but she recently discovered he was back in town, and heard someone had seen defendant on Sugar Loaf Road. She reported that defendant was currently renting a cabin at a nearby resort, The Adventure Village and Lodgings (Adventure Village). She further stated that defendant had worked for the McCalls around their farm about one year ago and that, during that time, several tools and equipment went missing from their farm. Although the McCalls suspected defendant stole these items, they were never able to prove it. Mrs. McCall also stated that immediately before defendant moved to Florida, someone had broken into her daughter's car and stolen approximately $1, 050.00.

         On 28 December 2014, Mr. McCall called the TCSO and reported to Deputy Owen that his son, Zach, had just observed defendant driving in a "very slow manner" down Sugar Loaf Road near the horse trailer. Mr. McCall stated that Zach drove toward defendant in an attempt to make contact with him, but defendant sped away and then turned into an apartment complex. Zach followed and when he turned into the complex, defendant sped away again, driving in a "very unsafe manner and at high speeds" through residential areas. Zach started to follow defendant again but stopped when the speed of pursuit became dangerous. Mr. McCall reported that Zach described defendant's truck as a grey GMC with an extended cab and temporary plates, and that they found the truck sitting "out of view" beside an office building at Adventure Village. Mr. McCall stated further that when defendant had worked on their farm, several items went missing, and that the larcenies stopped when defendant moved to Florida. Mr. McCall also reported that part of his fence had been knocked over when the horse trailer was broken into and entered, and that he observed a "fresh dent" on the grey GMC truck he believed belonged to defendant.

         Deputy Owen subsequently confirmed with management at Adventure Village that defendant was currently renting Cabin #1 and was listed as the sole occupant on the lease. He discovered that defendant asked for a refund for his rental on 24 December 2014 so he could return to Florida. Deputy Owen also discovered a 1999 GMC Sierra Extended Cab Pickup Truck displaying temporary tags, registered to defendant, and parked "in an effort to be hidden behind the main office out of view behind a back hoe" at Adventure Village. When Deputy Owen examined the truck, he noticed a large and apparently recent dent on its driver's side, and he observed bullets on the driver's ...


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