from the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Canyon County. Davis VanderVelde, District
decision of the district court is affirmed.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
Appellant. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.
Don Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
Respondent. Jenevieve C. Swinford argued.
NATURE OF THE CASE
State appeals from a Canyon County district court order
granting Monica F. Wolfe's motion to suppress evidence
obtained from a cell phone in her possession. The district
court held that law enforcement unlawfully seized the phone
prior to obtaining a warrant to search it. The State argues
that the independent source exception applies because law
enforcement subsequently obtained a valid search warrant that
was not tainted by the unlawful seizure, and therefore, the
evidence found on the phone should not have been suppressed.
For the reasons stated below, we affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
early 2017, a dog owned by Robert Wolfe and his new wife
became unusually lethargic and eventually died. Around that
same time, they noticed golf balls in their yard, some of
which had been chewed. Because no one in the family played
golf and they did not live near a golf course, suspicion
arose. As a result, the family initiated an investigation
through Animal Control and discovered that the golf balls
appeared to have antifreeze residue on them. A veterinarian
later confirmed that the dog died due to ingesting antifreeze
and golf balls. From this, the family suspected that the dog
had been poisoned. Additionally, from late 2016 to early
2017, Robert and his wife had to replace several vehicle
tires that were punctured with screws where the tread and the
sidewall of the tire meet.
after the dog died, Daniel Collins, a man who had dated
Robert's ex-wife, Monica Wolfe, contacted Robert and
informed him that he had been solicited by Wolfe to kill
Robert and his dog. Robert met with Collins at a restaurant
and, unbeknownst to Collins, recorded their conversation.
During the conversation, Collins stated that Wolfe asked him
to find out when Robert left work so that he could "take
[him] out from there." Regarding the dog, Collins said
that he was hoping he could "get to [Robert]"
before it died, and that Wolfe's plan was to mix car
antifreeze with meatballs to kill the dog. He further
asserted that Wolfe "was asking [him] for help . . . but
basically wanted to be the one to have [Robert]
underground" because "she [was] angry" with
him for obtaining custody of their two kids. After this
conversation, Robert contacted the police to report Wolfe and
7, 2017, Collins was called in for an interview with
Detective Kari Seibel. During the interview, he informed the
detective about his interactions with Wolfe, in which she
repeatedly expressed her desire to kill Robert and asked
Collins to help her devise a plan to kill him so that she
could regain custody of their kids. Collins alleged that the
plan was to make Robert's death look like a suicide. He
told the detective that Wolfe had researched various means of
killing Robert and described the different methods she
suggested to achieve this end.
result of Collins's statements, Wolfe was later
interviewed. After reading Wolfe her Miranda rights, the
detective interviewed her for approximately forty minutes.
During the interview, Wolfe asserted that, although she and
Collins discussed killing Robert on multiple occasions, it
was merely "pillow talk" and "fantasy."
She also admitted to having a conversation about killing a
neighbor's dog with antifreeze, but denied killing
Robert's dog. Further, she and the detective discussed
text messages that were on a cell phone in her possession.
Because the detective believed that evidence of the alleged
crimes would be on the phone, she informed Wolfe near the end
of the interview that she was going to seize it. Wolfe
informed her that she was borrowing the phone from a friend
and that, although she had sent various text messages from
it, it would not have the information that the detective
sought. At that point, the detective seized the phone without
a warrant or Wolfe's consent. After the phone was seized,
Wolfe made several statements to the detective regarding text
messages she sent from the phone concerning her desire to
kill Robert. However, she told the detective that "you
have to take them in context," as she may have just been
angry or joking.
later, the detective obtained a warrant, searched the phone,
and discovered evidence supporting the filing of charges
against Wolfe. As a result of the phone search, the detective
also obtained a second warrant to access Wolfe's Google
accounts. In November 2017, Wolfe was indicted on one count
of conspiracy to commit murder and one count of aiding and
abetting poisoning animals.
filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to suppress. Wolfe
argued that the indictment should be dismissed because
inadmissible evidence had been presented to the grand jury,
the State failed to disclose exculpatory evidence, and the
State failed to follow procedure in reclaiming exhibits
presented to the grand jury. She further argued that the
evidence obtained from the phone and the Google accounts
should be suppressed because the phone had been unlawfully
seized and the warrant for information from Google was void
because it had been executed late. The State argued that the
indictment should not be dismissed because Wolfe did not
provide applicable law for her argument to dismiss and the
grand jury received legally sufficient evidence to support
its finding of probable cause. The State ...