United States v. Denson, No. 13-3329 (10th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Defendant-appellant Steven Denson had been convicted for armed robbery. After spending time in prison, he was on probation, when he stopped reporting to his probation officer, as required by the sentence he received. Authorities discovered his name on a residential Wichita utility account. A radar sweep of the house, plus other evidence suggested defendant was inside. Upon execution of their search warrant, officers found defendant inside with a stash of guns. Defendant would later plead guilty to federal firearms charges, but preserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. On appeal, defendant argued: (1) officers entered his home without reason the believe he was inside at the time; (2) officers lacked a lawful reason to search the home after his arrest; and (3) officers had no right to seize guns even after they found them. After review, the Tenth Circuit found that even without the radar, officers could have reasonably concluded defendant might have been inside the home based on the utility bill and the fact that defendant was at the time hiding from law enforcement, and the electric meter was "whirring away." "Did the officers' questionable search outside the home paradoxically negate their otherwise solid case for a search inside the home? ... in a criminal proceeding like ours the government is free to rely on facts gleaned independently from any Fourth Amendment violation. And in our case Mr. Denson acknowledges that all of the facts we’ve outlined above were discovered independently of the potentially problematic radar search - a fact that requires us to defer those questions to another day." Finding no merit to defendant's last contention regarding seizure of his guns, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of his motion to suppress.