Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. 1222-CR03029-01. Honorable Thomas C. Grady.
Amy E. Lowe, St. Louis, MO, for appellant.
Chris Koster, Gabriel E. Harris, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.
Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., Judge. Kurt S. Odenwald, P. J., concurs. Robert G. Dowd, Jr., J., concurs.
Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., Judge.
Montez Ballard (Defendant) appeals his convictions of two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count of property damage. Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained during a warrantless search of his hotel room. Because we find under the circumstances that Defendant lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in the hotel room, we affirm.
The State charged Defendant with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count of property damage, all arising out of an incident on November 8, 2011, and supported by evidence seized after a search of Defendant's hotel room and Defendant's person. Defendant moved to suppress all evidence as the result of an illegal search. The evidence adduced at the hearing on the motion to suppress was as follows.
Defendant checked into the Renaissance Grand Hotel (Hotel) on November 6, 2011, and he paid for a one-night stay in room 1601, which had a check-out time of noon on November 7, 2011. Sometime on November 8, 2011, Gregory Holiday (Holiday), a loss prevention officer at the Hotel, received a notice that the guest occupying room 1601 had not paid for the night of November 7. Holiday also learned that there had been a complaint about an unfamiliar odor on the floor where room 1601 was located.
Holiday went to room 1601 and knocked on the door. After several minutes, Defendant opened the door, but the safety latch was engaged, so the door opened only two or three inches. Defendant was dressed in only a pair of shorts or underwear. Holiday could see some trash in the room, and he also confirmed the odor was coming from Defendant's room. Holiday described the odor as very pungent and strong, unlike any smell he had been trained to recognize. Holiday informed Defendant that the Hotel did not allow smoking on the property. Holiday also told Defendant that his bill for the room was unpaid and that Defendant " needed to . . . update the payment." Defendant retrieved his copy of the bill he had paid, and Holiday showed him on that receipt that Defendant's payment had not included the night of November 7, and it was now November 8. Defendant acknowledged this and closed the door.
Holiday decided to call for assistance because of the unpaid bill, the smell, and because he had observed Defendant to be acting in an erratic manner. In three or four minutes, Officer Devora Johnson (Officer Johnson) from Hotel security arrived. Shortly thereafter, Defendant came out of the room, fully clothed and holding a bottle of wine or champagne. Defendant tried to leave, but Holiday and Officer Johnson detained him. They called the Hotel security supervisor, Mike Kikas (Kikas), ...