CLINTON — A court hearing took place Monday as a Clinton man, accused of felony robbery, is asking for the suppression of evidence because an incorrect address was listed on a search warrant.
Defense attorney Harold DeLange II on June 26 filed a motion to suppress evidence and a motion to suppress his client's statements. The motions were made on behalf of Joseph R. Little, 38, 333 Seventh Ave. North, who is charged with first-degree robbery, a Class B felony, in connection with a February robbery at the Shell station on North Second Street.
Clinton Police Cpl. William Sattler testified Monday in Clinton County District Court regarding the arrest. Sattler said that on the night of the robbery, he was asked to assist with obtaining a search warrant for Little's residence. Sattler put in the information for the search warrant and was advised to meet with Magistrate Michael Judge, who signed the search warrant.
Officers prior to receiving the search warrant were outside Little's residence, having followed footprints from the Shell station at 500 N. Second St. to Little's residence. Sattler said crisis negotiation attempted to call Little out of the residence but could not reach him by phone. The search warrant was then executed and the Clinton Police Department forced entry into the residence. Two occupants were identified inside the residence. Little was one of the occupants. Little at that time was advised of his Miranda Rights, police said.
Sattler was later advised by an officer, in reviewing the search warrant, that it contained a typographical error with an incorrect address. Sattler returned to the Clinton Police Department and made the correction on the search warrant. He then obtained a signature from Judge and then returned to the Clinton Police Department and interviewed Little. Sattler stated several times he said Little did not have to speak with him during the interview.
Sattler stated that Clinton police officers stopped searching once the error in the warrant was identified and until the incorrect address on the warrant was corrected. Sattler said prior to identifying the error on the warrant one picture was taken of the entry door and one or two photographs were taken in the living room.
Sattler, under cross examination by DeLange, confirmed he first went to Shell before responding to Little's residence, which had officers surrounding it within 10 minutes. Sattler said the address on the search warrant was located at the corner of North Bluff Boulevard and Third Avenue North, which Sattler said is several blocks away from Little's residence.
Sattler said once officers indicated the error on the search warrant, the county attorney advised them to go out and meet with Judge. Sattler brought to Judge everything he originally had the first time and Judge signed the second search warrant, Sattler said. Sattler said Judge kept the original search warrant.
DeLange states in the motion to suppress evidence that during Sattler's deposition it was revealed a search warrant had been issued by Judge for an address other than 333 Seventh Ave. North, lower apartment. The motion states the original warrant to date has not been produced by the State to determine the actual address on the warrant.
"A search warrant must set forth with particularity the property to be searched and items to be seized," the motion states. "If entry is made pursuant to a search warrant containing an incorrect address fully unrelated to the address being searched, said search deprives the defendant his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."
The motion to suppress Little's statement states that during the investigation of the robbery, Little was questioned by Sattler during the early morning of Feb. 7. The motion alleges the statement given by Little was not knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently made. The motion continues the statement was given around 3 a.m. after Little had been drinking and ingesting drugs the prior evening. The motion also said the statements were made under an implied promise of leniency.
"Further, during the defendant's interrogation at approximately 3:18 a.m., the defendant invoked his Fifth Amendment Rights by stating to the officer that he was not going to give any further statements and was simply going to go to jail. Said comments were ignored by the officer who continued questioning the defendant herein," the motion states.
Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf on Aug. 2 filed a resistance to the motions to suppress. Wolf in his motion states the incorrect address on the first warrant did not invalidate the warrant. Wolf said under the circumstances there was no reasonable likelihood the officers could execute the search warrant on the wrong location.
"Even though the first search warrant had the wrong address, nothing seen or acquired there was used to get a corrected warrant," Wolf states in the resistance. "And all the evidence obtained was obtained pursuant to a warrant that did have a correct address. The corrected second warrant eliminated the earlier taint."
Wolf continues in the motion that Little's statements are valid because nothing about the prior events taints his arrest. Wolf states the identity of a defendant or respondent in a criminal or civil proceeding is never itself suppressible as a fruit of an unlawful arrest even if it is conceded that an unlawful arrest, search or interrogation occurred.
"There is a recording of the defendant's statements which will permit the court to determine the admissibility of those statements," Wolf states in the resistance.
District Court Judge Patrick McElyea will issue a ruling on the motions at a later date.
According to the affidavit, at 10:18 p.m. Feb. 6, police were called to Shell Express Lane, 500 N. Second St., in reference to a robbery. Officers were advised a witness followed the suspect from the store into the 300 block of Seventh Avenue North. Officers met with the witness and followed fresh footprints in the snow. The footprints led to 333 Seventh Ave. North, lower apartment.
The affidavit states an officer met with a Shell Express Lane representative. The representative reported a black male subject armed with a large knife walked behind the counter and demanded money from the cash register. The store representative reported the suspect held the knife to her side and demanded she hurry up or he would kill her. Officers observed a red mark on the clerk's left side caused by the knife.
Officers reviewed store security video and observed the suspect, later identified as Little, walk behind the counter while armed with a large knife. Little held the knife to the store clerk and demanded money and Little also stole cigarettes before exiting the business, police allege.
The affidavit states that officers secured a search warrant for 333 Seventh Ave. North, lower apartment. Little was located inside the apartment and taken into custody.