N.D.Iowa: Def’s GF who shared home who called police on him had apparent authority to consent

Defendant disavowed control over a bedroom in the single family home he lived in, and he had standing in the house as a whole and thus standing to challenge seizure of the gun found in that bedroom. The police here had a reasonable belief from defendant’s girlfriend who called 911 on him for domestic assault and she let the police in. United States v. Cross, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153052 (N.D.Iowa Nov. 4, 2016)*:

The totality of the circumstances supports Officer Yaneff’s reasonable belief that Ms. Finauga had the authority to grant the limited consent to accompany her into the house. Officers knew from the 911 call that defendant had assaulted his girlfriend in the home. The assault occurred in a bedroom, implying at least to some degree the possibility that Ms. Finauga was at least an overnight guest. Officer Yaneff saw Ms. Finauga leave, re-enter, and then leave the house a second time. It is not unreasonable to interpret these actions as suggesting Ms. Finauga had more than a passing connection to the house. Had she been only there for a matter of hours, it seems unlikely she would have gone back into the house. Moreover, Ms. Finauga entered the house freely through the front door; she did not knock or otherwise seek permission to enter. When the officers arrested defendant, he stated that Ms. Finauga “stayed” there, albeit he appeared to agree with the officer’s interpretation that she did not live there permanently. Ms. Finauga herself stated that she had been in a relationship with defendant for a while. She claimed to have been assaulted in the residence five days earlier and claimed she had personal belongings in the house. She did not state that she had resided elsewhere during that five-day period. It was not unreasonable for officers to interpret her statements as suggesting she had lived in the residence for at least the prior five days. Ms. Finauga had to call her mother to come get her, suggesting she did not have a vehicle at the residence. This could reasonably be interpreted as suggesting that she resided there and had not, for example, driven there that day or the night before. Finally, Andrea Cross told Sergeant Hoogendyk that Ms. Finauga had “recently moved back in” the residence. She also told the Sergeant that Ms. Finauga could go back into the house to retrieve her belongings, but then Ms. Cross wanted her gone. It was reasonable for officers to interpret these statements as meaning that Ms. Finauga had been living in the residence for some time. All of these facts were known to the officers prior to accompanying Ms. Finauga back into the house.

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