2015 Opinion No. 32
Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Minidoka County. Hon. Jonathan P. Brody, District Judge.
Judgment of conviction and order of the district court denying suppression motion, affirmed.
Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Kimberly E. Smith, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Nicole L. Schafer, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
LANSING, Judge. Chief Judge MELANSON and Judge GUTIERREZ CONCUR.
Heather Lynn Heard was found unconscious in her hotel room after a domestic disturbance. Officers entered the room, purportedly to ensure her safety. After doing so, officers found illegal drugs and syringes. Accordingly, Heard was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia. Heard sought suppression of the drug evidence on the ground that the officers violated the Fourth Amendment bye entering her hotel room without a warrant. The district court denied her motion and Heard appeals.
Brandon Byars worked as a security guard for a Burley hotel. He was notified that a couple was loudly arguing in an adjacent parking lot and went to speak with them. He came upon Heard and her fiancé , Steven Harris. When asked to stop arguing, they did, and left the area. Later that evening, Byars heard additional reports of arguing and loud fighting at an adjacent store. When Byars himself heard additional arguing at the hotel, he called law enforcement and reported that Heard and Harris were engaged in a domestic disturbance.
After dispatch relayed Byars' report, Staff Sergeant Thompson of the Cassia County Sheriff's Office arrived on scene. He met Byars at the hotel and both proceeded to Heard's room. From outside, Byars and Thompson could see into the room through an uncovered window and a partially open door. From the doorway Thompson saw Harris, who was awake and alert, and Heard, who was lying motionless on a bed. Heard did not move when Thompson began speaking with Harris. Thompson explained to Harris that a domestic dispute had been reported. As the two spoke, the officer became concerned because Heard was not waking up. In his experience, people infrequently ignored the presence of police. Accordingly, Thompson asked Harris to waken Heard. She moved only slightly and mumbled. According to Thompson's subsequent testimony, Heard seemed " extremely groggy," causing him to worry she was injured or intoxicated. At that point, the officer entered the room because he believed " people's safety" was at stake.
After entering, Thompson spoke to Heard, who slowly began to respond. At the officer's direction, she got out of bed. When she did so, a small plastic bag fell onto the bed. At that point, the officer and Heard both left the room and spoke outside. Heard had visible marks on her face and arm, indicating possible domestic violence. The officer also observed needle marks on her arms. She eventually admitted to having used drugs two ...