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State v. Ellis

Court of Appeals of Idaho

September 19, 2013

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Mark Lee ELLIS, Defendant-Appellant.

Review Denied Dec. 23, 2013.

Page 640

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 641

Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Shawn F. Wilkerson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Shawn F. Wilkerson argued.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Nicole L. Schafer, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Nicole L. Shafer argued.

GRATTON, Judge.

Mark Lee Ellis appeals from his judgment of conviction, entered following his conditional plea of guilty to two counts of possession of sexually exploitative material, Idaho Code § 18-1507A. Specifically, Ellis challenges the district court's order denying his motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Ellis was released on parole in an unrelated matter. Although Ellis's parole agreement is not included in the record, it appears that the agreement included a condition wherein Ellis waived his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. On March 17, 2010, Ellis was arrested on an agent's warrant for a parole violation. Approximately one week later, while Ellis was still incarcerated, an Idaho State Parole Commission Warrant (commission warrant) was issued and Ellis was again arrested. Thereafter, a neighbor contacted Ellis's parole officer and reported that Ellis asked her to enter his apartment and remove a methamphetamine pipe, drugs, DVDs, and cell phones that were located inside a secret room that could only be accessed using a knife or screwdriver.

The parole officer contacted Ellis's landlord and arranged to meet with him the next day. Upon meeting the landlord, the parole officer mentioned that the items were located in a secret room. The landlord explained that the secret room was actually a maintenance storage room on the porch outside of Ellis's apartment and that only the landlord and maintenance workers were supposed to access the room. The landlord also explained that the maintenance storage room had an exterior entrance from the porch and an interior access in Ellis's apartment, which did not have a door handle. The landlord and parole officer went to the exterior door on the porch and the landlord opened the door. After looking in, it was determined that the area had been " closed." The landlord went to his vehicle to retrieve a screwdriver while the parole officer waited for a police officer to arrive. After a police officer arrived, the landlord, parole officer, and police officer entered Ellis's apartment and opened the interior access of the maintenance storage room using a screwdriver. The officers discovered pornographic DVDs, drug paraphernalia, controlled substances, and cell phones inside the maintenance room. After searching one DVD, the parole officer noticed several file names consistent with child pornography. A detective reviewed two DVDs and found child pornography and a search warrant was obtained to conduct subsequent searches of the DVDs.

Ellis was charged with ten counts of possession of sexually exploitative material and a sentencing enhancement for a prior conviction of a registerable sex offense, Idaho Code § 19-2520G. Ellis filed a motion to suppress all the evidence obtained during the search of his apartment, which the district court denied. Ellis entered a conditional guilty plea in which he pled guilty to two counts of possession of sexually exploitative material, preserving his right to appeal the denial of his suppression motion. Ellis timely appeals.

II.

ANALYSIS


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