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State of Idaho v. Daniel Aaron Ligon-Bruno

October 17, 2012

STATE OF IDAHO,
PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DANIEL AARON LIGON-BRUNO,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Lansing L. Haynes, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Perry, Judge Pro Tem

2012 Unpublished Opinion No. 679

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION AND SHALL NOT BE CITED AS AUTHORITY

Order denying motion to suppress, affirmed.

Daniel Aaron Ligon-Bruno appeals from the judgment of conviction entered upon his conditional guilty plea to destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence. Specifically, Ligon-Bruno challenges the district court's denial of his motion to suppress. We affirm.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The district court found the following facts and set forth its conclusions of law orally at a hearing on October 1, 2010. Shortly after midnight on January 4, 2010, officers responded to a "burglary in progress" call at an apartment complex on Wyoming Avenue in Hayden, Idaho. The reporting party who had called 911 stated that he or she had observed a male crawl through an exterior window into apartment 6, open the front door and unscrew the front light bulb to make the area dark, and then re-enter the residence through the door. The police were aware of this particular apartment building due to multiple previous calls to the police department regarding drugs, domestic violence, and thefts involving these apartments. As the officers approached the apartment building, the suspect reportedly was leaving the apartment. Officers detained this individual who was eventually identified as Gerard Steger. Steger appeared to be highly intoxicated and had no identification on his person to verify his claim that he lived at the apartment. Steger gave inconsistent responses to questions by the officers concerning whether there were any other occupants in the apartment.

During the questioning of Steger, two officers went to the apartment, which was located on the second floor, to further investigate. The officers noticed the front window was partially opened and covered by mini-blinds. They observed a small infrared-type security camera positioned between the slats of the blinds. The lights were on in the apartment and the officers could hear voices and other noises coming from inside. The officers knocked loudly on both the front door and the front window announcing their presence as law enforcement officers; however, they received no response from anyone inside the apartment.

Having received no response, one officer returned to speak further with Steger about whether there were any other occupants in the apartment. Steger continued to give conflicting answers, first denying that there was anyone else in the apartment with him, then admitting that his roommates might be inside, and then again denying that anyone else was present. While the officer was questioning Steger, two other officers maintained security at the front of the apartment. The officers continued to knock and announce their presence during which time they could hear voices coming from within the apartment. One officer testified that he heard what sounded like items being moved around inside the apartment.

In response to this activity, the officers slid open the front window and pushed aside the blinds to get a clear view of the inside of the apartment. The officers again announced their presence and ordered any occupants out of the apartment. At this time, Ligon-Bruno peeked his head out around the corner of the hallway inside the apartment and asked what the officers were doing there. His eyes were bloodshot and glassy and he appeared to be under the influence of something. At one officer's direction, Ligon-Bruno exited the apartment through the front window and was detained in handcuffs. Upon questioning by the officers, Ligon-Bruno indicated that "Luca was still in the apartment" and thereafter another individual identified as Luca Trentino emerged from the hallway. Trentino exited the apartment through the front window and was also detained in handcuffs.

One of the officers entered the apartment and conducted an initial protective sweep looking for any other individuals who may still be in the apartment. During this sweep, the officer noticed in plain view burnt marijuana cigarettes, rolling papers, a homemade marijuana pipe, numerous weapons, a pile of watches and other jewelry, and various small electronics. The apartment smelled of burnt marijuana and the sound of a toilet continuously running could be heard.

After conducting the initial sweep, officers brought the suspects back inside the apartment. Ligon-Bruno claimed to live in the apartment and identified several items of property as belonging to him. While one officer questioned Ligon-Bruno, a second officer conducted a more thorough sweep of the apartment, opening closet doors to make sure nobody else was hiding in the apartment. Because the water in the toilet continued to run and being concerned about the potential destruction of evidence, the officer lifted the lid on the tank of the toilet and observed several bags of suspected controlled substances.

After this second sweep, the officers discovered that Ligon-Bruno was on felony probation for a cocaine offense. The officers contacted a probation office supervisor and advised him of the circumstances. The probation officer then asked the officers to conduct a thorough search of the apartment. Upon doing so, the officers found additional items consistent with the use and sale of methamphetamine. At this time, the officers retrieved the contents of the toilet ...


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