The defendant’s common law wife became ill and died unexpectedly. The defendant dialed 911 and initially allowed sheriff deputies and EMS into the home. The wife was pronounced dead at the hospital and the officers then secured the home and looked through the house for the specific purpose of locating medication in anticipation of an autopsy. While looking for medication the deputies spotted ammunition. They later discovered the defendant was a convicted felon and they contacted “federal agents” who obtained and executed a search warrant and seized ammunition, two loaded firearms and methamphetamine. The defendant was not allowed to enter the home at any point after the deputies first entered.
At trial for possession of the firearms and drugs, the defendant sought to suppress the evidence arguing the deputies had unlawfully seized his home and that this seizure tainted the observation of the ammunition when looking for medications. The District Court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress. In reversing the District court, the Tenth Circuit held that the “securing” of the house after the wife was transported and not allowing the defendant to enter was an unlawful seizure and that the subsequent search for medication and observation of the ammunition was tainted by the seizure.
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