in the Court of Appeals 21 February 2018.
by defendant from judgment entered 16 March 2016 by Judge
Robert G. Horne in Rutherford County Superior Court, No. 13
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney
General Kimberly Grande, for the State.
Michael Spivey for defendant-appellant.
appeal, we revisit the issue of how much factual information
a law enforcement officer's affidavit must contain in
order to establish probable cause for the issuance of a
search warrant. Because we conclude that the affidavit at
issue in this case lacked sufficient detail, we reverse the
trial court's denial of the defendant's motion to
suppress and vacate his conviction.
and Procedural Background
July 2013 at 1:45 p.m., Sergeant Chadd Murray of the
Rutherford County Sheriff's Office - along with several
other law enforcement officers - went to the home of Jesse
James Lenoir ("Defendant") in Forest City, North
Carolina to conduct a knock and talk. Defendant's
brother, David Lenoir ("David"), answered the door
and invited the officers into the residence.
Murray asked David if there was anyone else in the house, and
David responded that no one else was present. Sergeant Murray
noticed that a light was on in a back bedroom and asked David
if he could "check and make sure nobody was there"
for the safety of the officers. David gave his consent, and
Sergeant Murray walked to the back bedroom where he saw a
woman lying on a bed. Sergeant Murray also observed a
"glass smoke pipe" on a dresser in the bedroom.
same day, Sergeant Murray applied for a search warrant for
the residence and submitted a supporting affidavit that
stated, in its entirety, as follows:
On July 29, 2013 I went to 652 Byers Road Lot 10 Forest City,
N.C. for a knock and talk. Once at the residence I spoke with
the tenant at the residence David Lenoir. Lenoir stated he
and his brother Jesse Lenoir both lived there. David
consented to a search of the residence and stated no one was
inside the residence. In a back bedroom was Dawn Bradley
sleeping and I could see a smoke pipe used for
methamphetamine in plain view. The bedroom she was in
belonged to Jessie [sic] Lenoir. Jessie [sic] was unable to
be reached. Dawn would not admit to the smoke pipe being hers
but she did stated [sic] Jessie [sic] and Rebecca Simmons
stayed in that bedroom as well.
upon this affidavit, a search warrant was
issued. The officers then conducted a search of
the home and discovered a shotgun in the same bedroom where
Sergeant Murray had observed the glass pipe. The weapon was
hidden from view behind a "speaker box."
July 2013, Sergeant Murray questioned Defendant about the
shotgun, and Defendant admitted that the gun belonged to him.
Defendant was subsequently indicted by a grand jury on 4
November 2013 for possession of a firearm by a felon. A jury
trial was held on 16 March 2016 before the Honorable Robert
G. Horne in Rutherford County Superior Court. Before the
trial began, a hearing was held to address an oral motion to
suppress made by Defendant. Despite the fact that the motion
was not in writing, the State did not object on procedural
grounds to its consideration by the trial court, and the
court agreed to hear Defendant's motion. Following the
arguments of counsel, the trial court orally denied the
motion to suppress.
trial, counsel for Defendant failed to object to the
admission of evidence as to the shotgun being found in the
residence during the officers' search. On 16 March 2016,
the jury found Defendant guilty of possession of a firearm by
a felon. The trial court sentenced him to a term of 19 to 32
months imprisonment, suspended the sentence, and placed
Defendant on supervised probation for 36 months.
filed an untimely notice of appeal on 8 April 2018. However,
he filed a petition for writ of certiorari on 12
September 2016, and this ...