Thursday, July 18, 2013

KYCOA - Brewer- Exigent Circumstances for Search

Barney Brewer v.Commonwealth – 2012-CA-001312 – Rendered 6/21/13 - Not to be published

This case was affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded to the Wolfe Circuit Court after the panel of the KY Court of Appeals determined that substantial evidence did not support the trial court’s finding that either hot pursuit, fear of destruction of evidence, or personal safety justified officers’ warrantless entry into a home. 

The KSP had received a tip that the manufacture of methamphetamine was occurring at Mr. Brewer’s home. Several hours later, after gathering units from surrounding counties, the officers decided to conduct a “knock and talk.” When the Troopers saw Appellant run out of the back of the house, officers entered the property and apprehended him. Once in the backyard, an odor was detected. Troopers entered the home without a warrant. At the suppression hearing, the officers had testified that they conducted a “person search” of the home “for officer safety.” The trial court initially found that “hot pursuit” and “destruction of evidence” exceptions to the warrant requirement applied, and then further the “emergency exigent circumstances doctrine” due to the “explosive” nature of meth manufacturing. The Court of Appeals held that Brewer’s decision to flee gave rise to circumstances which justified the officers’ entry into the backyard, but that all three theories of exigency were unsupported by the record. The Court remanded the suppression issue to the trial court for further proceedings to determine whether other exigent circumstances were present to justify the officers’ entry. 

Mr. Brewer was represented at trial by Hon. Miranda StevensMolly Mattingly represented Mr. Brewer on appeal.

Contributed by Karen Maurer