AF: Search of house in murder case was reasonable and with PC in attempting to show the relationship between deceased and def

Defendant is an airman convicted at a court martial of premeditated murder of his girlfriend and unborn child. The search of his house was proper because it was reasonable to believe that evidence of their relationship would be found there because AFOSI and the police were attempting to connect him to her murder. United States v. Wilson, 2021 CCA LEXIS 284 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. June 11, 2021) (unpublished):

Appellant contends SA JS’s affidavit contained no indication that Appellant either came from or returned to his residence on the night of the murder. Appellant asserts the affidavit relied only on a “generalized profile” of how a person might behave and a “hope” that evidence would be discovered at Appellant’s residence. We are not persuaded. In general, a common sense approach to reviewing the affidavit would provide a substantial basis to believe evidence relevant to the crime would be discovered at Appellant’s residence, given not only CF’s identification but also Appellant’s long-term romantic involvement with TF, as well as Appellant’s presumed need to prepare to carry out the crime, to return home to change clothes, to park his vehicle, and to generally carry on with his life, among other considerations.

Appellant contends there was no probable cause, at that point, to believe Appellant owned or had access to a .22 caliber firearm such as the one used to kill TF. However, there was probable cause to believe that TF was killed with a .22 caliber firearm and that Appellant was the assailant. Appellant contends there was no evidence Appellant still possessed the murder weapon or that it was at his residence. Although probable cause requires more than bare suspicion, it does not require proof by a preponderance of the evidence that the evidence will be present. The possibility that Appellant hid or disposed of the murder weapon in some unknown location did not render his residence an unreasonable place to look for it. Again, we find the issuing judge had a substantial basis to find probable cause.

With respect to Appellant’s vehicles, he contends CF’s failure to identify the color of the car Appellant fled in “fatally undercut[ ] any nexus between [Appellant]’s vehicle and the crime scene.” We disagree. CF described Appellant driving away in a four-door sedan, possibly a Chevrolet Cruze. Appellant was believed to own a vehicle of the same general type—a compact four-door sedan. Given Appellant’s presumed need to return to his residence, and the fact that he was seen fleeing the murder scene in a vehicle of the same general type as the one he owned, the affidavit provided a more than sufficient nexus to search for Appellant’s vehicle.

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