Evidence in drug case conviction allowed
MONTEVIDEO — Law officers did not exceed the scope of their investigation, a court has ruled, when they looked inside a cigarette pack for receipts and handwritten credit card numbers that could be hidden in it but found methamphetamine bindles instead.
The discovery led officers to obtain a second search warrant, and that ultimately led to a fifth-degree controlled substance conviction against Jeremy Palmer Lynne, 30, of Montevideo.
In a ruling issued Monday, the state Court of Appeals affirmed a district court decision in Chippewa County to allow the evidence. Lynne had challenged the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence of his drug possession.
Law officers with the Montevideo Police Department and Kandiyohi County and Meeker County Sheriff’s Offices, some of them members of the Drug Task Force, had been issued a search warrant. They searched a house and garage on Sept. 22, 2011, in Montevideo as part of an investigation into the use of a stolen credit card.
They encountered the defendant in the garage, and took him into custody. They found packing material, digital scales, and other items associated with the sale of narcotics in the garage. They also spotted the cigarette pack near these items on a workbench. Officer Don Schmidt looked inside it.
The officer told the court he was looking for receipts, which can be hidden anywhere.
After securing a second search warrant based on the find, officers ultimately seized methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and legend drugs, according to the ruling filed by the Court of Appeals.
“Because the cigarette pack was located within the allowable search area and because that container reasonably could have contained the items Agent Schmidt was searching for, his search did not exceed the scope of the warrant when he discovered the methamphetamine binds inside the cigarette pack,’’ stated the court in a ruling authored by Justice Michael L. Kirk.
Lynne received a prison sentence of one year and one day for the drug conviction, and the sentence was stayed for five years. He had a previous second-degree drug possession conviction in 2006.