Baird v. Texas (Original)Annotate this Case
Appellant Gregg Baird hired Dawn Killian to stay at his home and care for his dog while he was away on vacation. During her stay, Killian used appellant's computer in his master bedroom and found child pornography. At a pre-trial suppression hearing, appellant claimed that Killian's access to his bedroom and computer was illegal; therefore, the State could not use the evidence against him at his trial. The trial court denied appellant's motion to suppress the images taken from his computer. Specifically, the trial court found that appellant did not explicitly exclude Killian from his bedroom or from his computer; that he walked her through the master bedroom and bathroom; and that he told her to "[h]elp [her]self to anything." Based on these fact findings, the trial court determined that Killian had the appellant's effective consent to enter the bedroom and use the computer, and held that, without establishing that Killian violated the law, appellant could not exclude the material. Appellant challenged the trial court's finding, pointing to his own testimony that this comment was only made in the kitchen, and specifically in reference to food. However, after review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court found that appellant repeated that statement at least once during the tour of the home and told her also to "[h]elp herself to everything." That supported the trial court's finding that appellant gave Killian his apparent consent: "[. . .] He did not expressly banish her from the bedroom, nor did he forbid her to use his computer. He showed her how to operate the television and stereo. He did not power the computer down or password-protect it, and he admitted that he allowed his roommate to use it regularly. Given this convergence of facts, the trial court was justified in concluding that Killian had the appellant's apparent consent--that is to say, it is clear and manifest to the understanding that she had his assent in fact-to enter his bedroom and use his computer."