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Appeals court reverses drug conviction for meth lab at an Atwater home

WILLMAR -- The Minnesota Appeals Court has reversed a 2008 first-degree drug conviction for manufacturing methamphetamine against Darryl Alan Kise, 55, of Atwater.

In an un-published op-inion issued Tuesday, the appeals court ruled that the district court erred in determining that Kise's father had the authority to allow law en-orcement officers to search his home, where a meth lab was located in his son's basement living quarters.

Kise was sentenced in November 2008 to 74 months in prison and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine on the first-degree conviction. The sentence was handed down in Kandiyohi County District Court.

The case will return to the Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office, where the remaining evidence will be examined and prosecutors will decide how to proceed in the case, according to First Assistant County Attorney Connie Crowell.

"We respectfully disagree" with the appeals court decision, she said. "He's a meth cook and should be off the streets."

The decision comes down to how Minnesota law interprets the Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure versus how federal law interprets those rights, according to County Attorney Boyd Beccue.

"Under federal law, the search would have been fine and the evidence not suppressed," Beccue said. However, the Minnesota Constitution allows protections exceeding the federal level.

And, changing the state law would take a constitutional amendment, he said, which is not likely given that state legislators are busy with budget discussions. "This feature has and will continue to frustrate prosecutors," Beccue said.

Kise and Troy Alan Bunce, 42, of St. Cloud, were arrested on Feb. 6, 2008, after Granite Falls police officers stopped their vehicle in Chippewa County outside of that city. Officers found items in the vehicle that were precursors to make meth. Bunce said they were collecting the items to bring to Kise's home.

Bunce was sentenced to 25 months in prison on a first-degree drug conspiracy charge. The charges against Kise in that case, first-degree meth manufacture and possession of meth precursors, were dismissed.

A day later, CEE-VI Drug Task Force agents went to Kise's home in Atwater and informed his father of his arrest in Chippewa County. John Kise consented to a search of the basement of his home, where agents found drug paraphernalia and items associated with the manufacture of meth, including mason jars filled with liquids. The criminal complaint noted that the jars contained materials at different stages in the meth-making process, leading the officers to believe that several batches of meth were cooking at the time.

The search also revealed jars, spoons, funnels, tubing, electrical wire, large quantities of matches, test kits, coffee filters, gun cleaner, pseudoephedrine and handwritten notes about the drug. The home was marked as a meth lab and turned over to hazardous materials crew for cleanup of the contaminated and hazardous materials.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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