Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ST. CLAIR COUNTY Honorable James K.
K. Hardy ("Defendant") appeals his conviction,
following a jury trial, for possession of methamphetamine
with intent to distribute. See section
195.211. His sole point on appeal claims the search
warrant that authorized officials to search his home and
surrounding vehicles was constitutionally deficient because
it did not describe the place to be searched with sufficient
particularity. Finding no merit in this claim, we affirm.
of Review and Applicable Law
review a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress to
determine whether it was supported by substantial evidence.
State v. Johnson, 354 S.W.3d 627, 631 (Mo. banc
2011). In doing so, we consider the evidence presented at
both the suppression hearing and at trial. State v.
Pike, 162 S.W.3d 464, 472 (Mo. banc 2005). "The
facts and reasonable inferences from such facts are
considered favorably to the trial court's ruling, and
contrary evidence and inferences are disregarded."
Johnson, 354 S.W.3d at 631-32. We will reverse the
trial court's ruling only if it is clearly erroneous.
State v. Sund, 215 S.W.3d 719, 723 (Mo. banc 2007).
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides,
in relevant part, that "no Warrants shall issue, but
upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and
particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized."When analyzing a challenge to
a warrant's description of the property to be searched,
this court must determine if the property has been described
with sufficient particularity to allow the officer executing
the warrant to locate and identify the property with
reasonable effort and if a reasonable probability exists that
another property might mistakenly be searched. State v.
Cummings, 714 S.W.2d 877, 880 (Mo. App. S.D. 1986);
see also U.S. v. Kelly, 772 F.3d 1072, 1081 (7th
Cir. 2014). A search warrant must "[i]dentify the place
. . . which is to be searched, in sufficient detail and
particularity that the officer executing the warrant can
readily ascertain . . . what he or she is to search[.]"
Section 542.276.6(5). If the place to be searched is not
described with sufficient certainty, the resulting warrant
will be deemed invalid. Section 542.276.10(5).
accuracy rather than technical precision governs in
determining whether a search warrant adequately describes the
premises to be searched." Cummings, 714 S.W.2d
at 880. "The requisite specificity of the description
differs for rural and urban areas and depends heavily on the
facts of each case." U.S. v. Dorrough, 927 F.2d
498, 500 (10th Cir. 1991).
one part of the description of the premises to be searched is
inaccurate, but the description has other parts which
identify the place to be searched with particularity,
searches pursuant to such warrants have been routinely
upheld." Cummings, 714 S.W.2d at 882 (quoting
U.S. v. Gitcho, 601 F.2d 369, 371 (8th Cir. 1979)).
"A technically wrong address does not invalidate a
warrant if it otherwise describes the premises with
sufficient particularity so that the police can ascertain and
identify the place to be searched." U.S. v.
Lora-Solano, 330 F.3d 1288, 1293 (10th Cir. 2003).
and Procedural Background
resolution of this appeal requires reference to three
structures located on the "left" (south) side of SE
356 Private Road ("the road") in St. Clair County.
Using the order in which the structures would be reached by
an officer executing the search warrant in question
("the search warrant"), we will refer to these
structures as "Structure 1, " "Structure 2,
" and "Defendant's home."
Kip Bartlett ("Sergeant Bartlett"), a member of the
Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force, had been investigating
Defendant based on a tip that Defendant was selling
methamphetamine. A confidential informant ("the
C.I.") told Sergeant Bartlett that Defendant was selling
methamphetamine with Ernest Burwell ("Burwell").
Based on that allegation, officers obtained a warrant that
allowed them to place a GPS tracking device on Burwell's
October 1, 2013, Sergeant Bartlett monitored Burwell's
vehicle through the GPS device and observed it arrive at
Defendant's home. Sergeant Bartlett then stopped Burwell
when he left Defendant's home and found Burwell in
possession of an "an eight-ball" of
methamphetamine. Within two hours, Sergeant Bartlett had
applied for the search warrant.
making that application, Sergeant Bartlett conferred with the
C.I., who gave Sergeant Bartlett "driving
directions" to Defendant's home, which the C.I.
described as a mobile home with a white bus parked out front.
Sergeant Bartlett also spoke with St. Clair County
Sheriff's deputy Mike Crocker ("Deputy
Crocker"). Deputy Crocker was familiar with Defendant,
familiar with the general area, had been past Defendant's
home several times, and had seen the white bus parked in
front of Defendant's home. Sergeant Bartlett typically
retrieved addresses from a county's 9-1-1 system, but
that function was not available in St. Clair County.
Bartlett then applied for and received the search warrant,
which described ...