COMMONWEALTH v. JT and NH
MARSHALL CIRCUIT COURT
ARREST: Responding on a tip from a neighbor regarding suspicious activity, a Benton Police officer arrived at a residence owned by JT's mother to conduct a “knock and talk” investigation. JT exited the house to speak with the officer. The officer asked to enter the premises, but entry was denied. The officer asked if there were other occupants in the home and shouted to them to exit the residence. When the other occupants refused to exit the residence, the officer kicked the door open and entered without a warrant. After the warrantless entry, the officer found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a shotgun. All occupants were arrested.
CHARGES: Trafficking in marijuana, greater than five pounds; tampering with physical evidence; carrying a concealed deadly weapon; and possession of drug paraphernalia. All charges were firearm enhanced.
DISPOSITION: A motion to prevent the government from using evidence obtained after an illegal search was filed with the Court and an evidentiary hearing was conducted. After the hearing, the Judge granted the motion. The government was forced to dismiss all charges against JT and NH.
COMMONWEALTH v. AK
MCCRACKEN CIRCUIT COURT
KENTUCKY COURT OF APPEALS
SUPREME COURT OF KENTUCKY
ARREST: The McCracken County Sherriff's Department received a tip that marijuana was being cultivated inside a home in Paducah. One evening three Sherriff's deputies traveled to the residence to investigate. The officers did not secure a search warrant because they knew they did not have sufficient reliable evidence to obtain one. At the residence, the deputies knocked on the door and an occupant exited the home. The deputies told the occupant about the information and asked for consent to search the home. The occupant refused. The officers told the occupant if there was anything inside the house, it should be destroyed because the officers would likely return. As the officers were leaving the residence, they observed through a window the occupant and another man running around inside the home with planting pots and grow lights. The deputies did not observe any illegal substances or drug paraphernalia. The deputies contacted the Chief Deputy and were told to secure the residence by warrantless entry if they thought evidence was being destroyed. The three officers then forced themselves into the residence, where marijuana and other evidence was located as a result of their warrantless entry. All occupants were arrested.
CHARGE: Trafficking in marijuana; tampering with physical evidence; and possession of a controlled substance, first degree.
DISPOSITION: Motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence was filed in McCracken Circuit Court on the basis the warrantless entry by the McCracken County Sherriff's Department. After a long delay, the motion was denied and AK entered a conditional guilty plea. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The Judge allowed AK to remain free on bond pending appeal. The conditional guilty plea allowed AK to appeal the trial Judge's decision to the Kentucky Court of Appeals seeking review of the trial court's denial of the motion to suppress. The Court of Appeals unanimously concluded the trial court erred in denying the motion. The panel also determined there were no exigent circumstances present to justify warrantless entry into the home. The government asked the Court of Appeals to reconsider but its request was denied. The government then asked the Supreme Court of Kentucky to review the case. The Supreme Court determined the government did not have probable cause to search the home. The government also did not demonstrate that an emergency existed to justify entering the home without a warrant. The case was returned to McCracken Circuit Court to be prosecuted without the evidence obtained by the illegal search. The government petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to hear this case following the Kentucky Supreme Court decision. The United States Supreme Court refused to consider the case. After the United State Supreme Court refused to hear the case, it was dismissed in McCracken Circuit Court.
USA v. WDW
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY AT PADUCAH
UNITED STATES SIXTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS
ARREST: Following the issuance of two search warrants, West, a convicted felon, was arrested for possession of 15 rounds of ammunition.
CHARGE: Felon in possession of ammunition
DISPOSITION: A motion to prevent the government from using illegally obtained evidence with filed in trial court because the affidavits in support of both search warrants contained false information. After an evidentiary hearing, the motion was denied by trial court judge. After a jury trial, West was convicted of the charge and sentenced to more than 15 years in prison. The trial court's ruling on the evidence and the jury trial conviction was appealed to the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the second highest appellate court in the land. The Sixth Circuit determined the affidavit for the first search warrant was defective and did not establish probable cause for a search. The Court also determined the affidavit for the second search warrant was insufficient to establish probable cause to search and its language contained “a clear reckless disregard for the truth”. The Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court's order denying of the motion to exclude evidence and vacated WDW's jail sentence. The case was returned to the trial court with instructions to exclude any evidence obtained from the unconstitutional search warrants. The government dismissed the case against WDW.
USA v. LCG AND OTHERS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY AT PADUCAH
UNITED STATES SIXTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS
ARREST: A confidential informant and an undercover detective purchased crack cocaine from the defendant, and others, on various occasions.
CHARGE: Possession of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute
DISPOSITION: During the course of a jury trial, a juror informed the Judge he feared for his own safety if should he be identified as a juror who participated in the decision leading to the defendants' conviction. Prior to deliberation, the juror stood up and requested to be excused based upon his concerns. The juror was questioned and revealed he had expressed his concerns to other members of the jury. The trial judge discharged the juror and seated an alternate juror. All motions for a mistrial were denied. The remaining jurors returned to deliberate without being questioned concerning the prior juror's remarks. Catlett was convicted and sentenced to 104 months incarceration. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found the trial court made a mistake by not questioning all jurors about excused juror's remarks. The sentences were vacated and the case was returned to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing in which the trial court judge supervised the questioning of the jurors by the attorneys involved in the case. After the hearing, the trial Judge determined the jury was not prejudiced by the excused jurors remarks and again denied LGC's motion for a new trial. LGC was again sentenced to 104 months of incarceration. The case was again appealed to the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's ruling.
COMMONWEALTH V. LA and JA
Marshall District Court
ARREST: Law enforcement responded to an anonymous tip regarding a “noise complaint, possible party” at LA and JA's residence. Upon arrival at residence, officers heard no loud noise and observed no one holding an alcohol container. Both officers observed “several cars” and “several people” on the premises. One officer chased fleeing juveniles after the juveniles exited a barn. An officer stated he had “suspicion but no proof” that the juveniles had consumed alcohol. Officers entered barn without a search warrant because “there are subjects fleeing [deputy] for unknown reasons” and because they were “looking for an adult.” After the warrantless entry, officers took pictures of a keg and a cooler containing beer. Several adults and juveniles were cited for various alcohol offenses. The property owners were in an adjacent residence, not the barn. Both were cited for various alcohol offenses and contributing to the delinquency of several minors. LA was also arrested for disorderly conduct.
CHARGES: Illegal possession of alcohol in dry territory; 5 counts illegal sale/giving alcohol in a dry territory; 6 counts unlawful transaction with a minor; disorderly conduct.
DISPOSITION: A motion to suppress the warrantless search of the barn was filed and an evidentiary hearing was conducted. After the hearing, the Judge granted the motion to suppress all evidence based on the warrantless entry. The Commonwealth dismissed all charges against LA and JA.
COMMONWEALTH V. JK
Graves District Court
ARREST: Minor child wandered away from residence while JK and the mother were asleep. JK is not the father of the child.
CHARGES: Wanton Endangerment First Degree (Class D Felony)
DISPOSITION: Charges dismissed prior to preliminary hearing when prosecutor agreed JK had no duty of care to the child.