AK: Initial warrantless entry after attempted warrantless arrest, standoff, then arrest was saved by inevitable discovery with later warrant

Alaska State Troopers developed information that two men were involved in burglaries and travelled far to arrest them, albeit without a warrant. They ordered the men out of their rented cabin, and that would have been an illegal arrest, but they didn’t come out and a standoff ensured. During the standoff, they engaged in banter with the AST which is admissible. The product of the entry into the cabin is not excluded because of inevitable discovery. They got another warrant which was inevitable after the standoff. Indellicati v. State, 2018 Alas. App. LEXIS 263 (Nov. 21, 2018):

These facts make Indellicati’s and Cross’s case similar to Cruse v. State. In Cruse, the troopers unlawfully opened the trunk of a vehicle and found a handgun. They then applied for a warrant to search the vehicle — but the officer who applied for the warrant withheld the information about already finding the gun in the trunk. Instead, the officer relied on other, independently obtained information to establish probable cause to search the vehicle. The supreme court held that, given these circumstances, the gun was admissible in evidence because it was seized under a search warrant that was “obtained through information wholly independent of the initial trunk search.”

Cruse is potentially distinguishable because, in that case, the police officer left the handgun in the trunk after finding it; the police did not seize the gun until they executed the search warrant. Here, in contrast, the troopers seized the firearms and ammunition from the cabin, and they took these items with them when they transported Indellicati and Cross away by helicopter. Thus, this evidence was not physically present in the cabin when the officers returned with the search warrant.

But in United States v. Herrold, the Third Circuit held that this distinction was of no consequence:

We recognize, of course, that this case presents a special question with regard to the gun because the police actually seized it during the unlawful entry and not during the warranted search. Nevertheless, we see no reason not to treat the gun as also being seized pursuant to the search warrant which specifically authorized the seizure of “firearms of any type.” … It would be … senseless to require the formality of physically re-seizing the gun already seized during the initial entry. Thus … the gun is as admissible under the independent source doctrine as the other, non-dangerous evidence, seen during the initial entry but not seized until the warrant-authorized search.

We find this reasoning to be persuasive.

Accordingly, we affirm the judge’s ruling denying suppression of the evidence seized during the initial illegal search of the cabin.

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