CLINTON — A district court judge will consider a motion to suppress filed by a Clinton woman in connection with a felony gun charge filed against her after agents found more than a dozen guns in her family’s home.
Dawn Hansen is accused of having control of firearms as a felon, a charge that came during her attempts to regain her right to a firearm, a right she had lost after a prior felony drug conviction.
Hansen’s most recent charge came after agents doing an investigation into her rights request found several unsecured guns belonging to her husband in the home. The issue is whether Hansen willingly let agents into her home and whether what they found during the search in areas accessible to Hansen can be used against her - specifically 14 guns ranging from AR-15s to rifles to handguns - and 1,400 rounds of ammunition.
Agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Hansen told Judge John Telleen their accounts last week of what occurred the morning of April 4. The agents and Hansen disagreed on how she decided to let them into her house.
Agent Teresa Miller-Kaszinski investigates applications for regaining rights. She told the court that after reviewing an application, she typically begins by visiting the person’s neighborhood and speaking to the neighbors. An interview with the applicant is one of the last things she does.
On April 4, Miller-Kaszinski and her partner, Kurt Lechtenberg, visited Hansen’s neighborhood on South 14th Street. After having no luck finding any of the neighbors home, Miller-Kaszinski noticed a car in Hansen’s driveway and called her to see if they could stop by. She told the court that the defendant told her she had just awakened and was taking care of her children, asking for 10 minutes to get ready.
Miller-Kaszinski told the court she asked Hansen if there were any guns in the house and was not surprised that there were guns owned by Hansen’s husband. This was a reason listed on the application for why Hansen wanted her firearm rights back. She said she was surprised to hear the guns were not secured around Hansen, a felon.
Miller-Kaszinski said she told Hansen they would need to come in and secure the guns.
”There wasn’t any resistance to looking into the home at all,” she said.
But defense attorney Robert McGee said the agent’s statement that she needed to go into the home to secure the guns was another way of saying she needed to get into the house.
Lechtenberg indicated in his testimony that he not know at that time if there were guns accessible to Hansen. He continued they wanted to come in to see where the guns were and if they were secured.
Hansen, however, told the court that when Miller-Kaszinski said they would come in and take the guns, she balked, asking what her options were. Both Miller-Kaszinski and Lechtenberg agreed that she asked about her options, but did not feel that she was against them coming in. McGee asked why she would have asked about options if she did not mind them coming in.
”She did not know, I guess, what to do,” Lechtenberg said.
Miller-Kaszinski called Assistant County Attorney Amanda Meyers at that point and came back saying they could get a search warrant. She testified that Hansen willingly let them in. Lechtenberg remembered her deliberating 10 to 15 minutes.
”Basically, I said you’re going to come in one way or another,” Hansen said. “Might as well come in.”
Assistant County Attorney Ross Barlow asked her why she let them in if she did not want to. He clarified that they never did come back with a warrant.
”You could have continued to say no, couldn’t you have,” Barlow asked.
She responded that the agents were really on her case and she felt pressured to let them in. She added that Miller-Kaszinski acted like it was no big deal and never told her charges could result in the search.
”I was there to do a investigation on firearms,” Miller-Kaszinski said. “She is in possession of them. I can’t just walk away.”
The 14 firearms and 1,400 rounds of ammunition were found in areas of the house accessible to Hansen, specifically the master bedroom. Miller-Kaszinski indicated that Hansen helped in the search and showed the agents where to look. Hansen said the agents searched rooms she thought might contain her husband’s guns and found the items.
Telleen will review the case in mid-July and reach a decision.