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Copeland v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

May 16, 2018

Corie Copeland, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Okaloosa County. John T. Brown, Judge.

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, A. Victoria Wiggins, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Julian E Markham, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          B.L. Thomas C.J.

         Appellant challenges the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress. Because we hold that the bedroom in which officers observed narcotics was "immediately adjoining" the place of Appellant's arrest, we affirm the trial court's order.

         Facts

         Investigator Rodney Owens of the Walton County Sheriff's Office testified that a "breach team" of five Walton County Sheriff's deputies and one Santa Rosa County Sheriff's deputy approached Appellant's residence to execute an arrest warrant. A narcotics unit that was surveilling the residence had observed Appellant arrive and enter the residence.

         Deputies knocked and announced at the residence for approximately forty-five seconds. A member of the narcotics unit observing the rear perimeter of Appellant's apartment saw Appellant look out a bathroom window that faced the rear of the building, and this information was relayed to the entry team. The deputies breached the door to Appellant's apartment, but remained outside the residence, calling Appellant's name and stating they had a warrant for his arrest. Appellant remained in the apartment, and the deputies then entered the residence.

         Deputy Panchaud of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office testified that he and the other deputies entered the residence in a "stack" formation. The deputy "cleared" the kitchen area and then checked a bedroom for other occupants, while other deputies made contact with and detained Appellant at the bathroom. Deputy Panchaud saw what appeared to be narcotics in plain view on a table in the bedroom.

         Deputy Goddin of the Walton County Sheriff's Office testified that Appellant eventually came out of the bathroom, and officers restrained Appellant in the doorway area of the bathroom while officers continued clearing the residence. Deputy Goddin testified that the bedroom where the narcotics were observed was adjacent to and approximately "four to six feet" from the bathroom where Appellant was seized. Investigator Dennis Fields estimated that the bedroom was ten feet from the place of arrest.

         Investigator Fields testified that Deputy Panchaud told him there was suspected methamphetamine and suspected marijuana in the back bedroom next to the bathroom. Investigator Owens testified that the surveillance team informed him that no one other than Appellant had entered Appellant's apartment in the hour and fifteen minutes that they observed the apartment. Deputy Goddin testified that he had "no way of knowing" whether there was anyone besides Appellant inside the residence.

         The trial court denied Appellant's motion to suppress, finding that the proximity of the bathroom where Appellant was arrested was close enough to the bedroom where the narcotics were observed to justify seizure of the contraband. Following the jury trial, Appellant was found guilty of trafficking illegal drugs, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug ...


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