429 P.3d 604 (Hawai’i App. 2018), CAAP-16-0000265, State v. Kaianui

Docket Nº:CAAP-16-0000265
Citation:429 P.3d 604, 143 Hawai‘i 282
Party Name:STATE of Hawai‘i, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Papaikaniau KAIANUI, Defendant-Appellee
Attorney:Renee Ishikawa Delizo, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, County of Maui, for Plaintiff-Appellant. David A. Sereno, Wailuku, for Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:By: Fujise, Presiding Judge, Leonard and Reifurth, JJ.
Case Date:October 31, 2018
Court:Court of Appeals of Hawai'i, Intermediate
 
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Page 604

429 P.3d 604 (Hawai’i App. 2018)

143 Hawai‘i 282

STATE of Hawai‘i, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Papaikaniau KAIANUI, Defendant-Appellee

No. CAAP-16-0000265

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai‘i

October 31, 2018

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Unpublished disposition." in the Pacific Reporter. See HI R RAP RULE 35

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE SECOND CIRCUIT (CASE NO. 2DTA-15-00730)

On the briefs:

Renee Ishikawa Delizo, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, County of Maui, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

David A. Sereno, Wailuku, for Defendant-Appellee.

By: Fujise, Presiding Judge, Leonard and Reifurth, JJ.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff-Appellant State of Hawai‘i (State) appeals from the March 4, 2016 Second Amended Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law; Order Granting Motion to Suppress Evidence (Order Granting Motion to Suppress) of the District Court of the Second Circuit, Wailuku Division (District Court).1

I. BACKGROUND

On June 12, 2015, the State filed a Complaint against Kaianui on the following counts: Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant in violation of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) § 291E-61(a)(1)(3), Duty Upon Striking Unattended Vehicle or Other Property in violation of HRS § 291C-15, Inattention to Driving in violation of HRS § 291-12, Reckless Driving of Vehicle in violation of HRS § 291-2, and Lack of Due Care in violation of Maui County Code § 10.52.010.

On September 18, 2015, Kaianui filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence (Motion to Suppress), seeking to suppress "all evidence recovered as the result of the warrantless entry by police into the curtilage of [Kaianui’s] home and the warrantless seizure of [Kaianui] therein on May 24, 2015." The Motion to Suppress was based on factual allegations attributed to the police reports of three police officers, which were received from the State. In the motion, Kaianui asserted that a police officer entered the curtilage of her home, with the reason obviously being to obtain information and gather evidence, which exceeds the customary license that members of the public and the police have to enter the curtilage of a home. Thus, Kaianui argued that entry was a search and the State must demonstrate probable cause and an applicable exception to the warrant requirement. In addition, Kaianui argued that she was seized and, absent at least reasonable suspicion for that seizure, it is presumed that the seizure was unreasonable. Kaianui submitted that, as a result of the allegedly unjustified search and seizure, all evidence derived therefrom should be suppressed.

In opposition, the State argued that the officer’s approach and contact of Kaianui was a proper temporary investigative detention and, therefore, did not need to be supported by probable cause. The State represented that it would "stand on the testimony presented by its witnesses at the evidentiary hearing," but stated that a witness had told an officer, Maui Police Department (MPD) Officer Kyle Badayos (Officer Badayos), that a champagne-colored pickup, matching the description of Kaianui’s vehicle,2 had been involved in a nearby collision and left the scene. The State further argued that because the suspect had left the scene of the collision minutes earlier, exigent circumstances existed, which "allow police contact, even to the point of entry of a defendant’s house."

In reply, Kaianui argued, inter alia, that the cases relied on by the State involved traffic stops, and not police entering the curtilage of a person’s home, that the State failed to address precedent equating the physical intrusion onto the curtilage to gather evidence with a search, and that the State has the burden to prove the applicability of the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement.

The District Court heard testimony on the Motion to Suppress on October 28, 2015. The State called Alexis Felicilda (Felicilda), Officer Badayos, and MPD Officer Dennis Arnds (Officer Arnds).

Felicilda testified that on the night of May 24, 2015, she and her boyfriend were visiting with friends, Kathy and John Paio, on Eha Street in Wailuku. Felicilda’s boyfriend had driven her there and parked her vehicle, a black Toyota pick-up truck, on the street in front of the Paios’s home. During her visit, Felicilda heard what sounded "like a car accident. Basically a loud screech and then a boom." Within seconds, she and her boyfriend, along with the Paios, exited the home to investigate.

Once outside, Felicilda observed her truck3 on the curb about 25 feet away from where it had been parked with its entire rear left side smashed in "like an accordion; " and there was a great deal of metal and glass debris, as well as fluid, on the ground near the damaged vehicle. Felicilda saw a truck speeding away, going makai. She testified that she was certain it was a Toyota, because she drives a Toyota, but that she could not make out any other specific features of the vehicle. She could not discern the license plate number or the precise color of the vehicle but only observed that it was "metallic" in color; she could not tell if the color of the truck was light or dark. She was unable to observe who was driving the truck that was speeding away. Immediately thereafter, Mr. Paio got in his vehicle and began following the truck that Felicilda had observed. At that point, Felicilda dialed 9-1-1 and informed them that her truck had been hit, that the responsible vehicle had left the scene, and that her friend was following it.

Officer Badayos testified that, while on patrol in Kahului, he overheard police dispatch assign two other officers, Officer Lago and Officer Arnds, to a motor vehicle collision on Eha Street and decided to report to the scene to assist. Upon arrival, he found Officer Lago on scene and observed a black pickup truck, partially on the sidewalk with damage to its left rear corner. Officer Badayos obtained a statement from Felicilda’s boyfriend and then he conferred with Officer Lago in order to assist with the investigation. Officer Badayos did not testify that he relayed any information to dispatch or anyone other than Officer Lago.[4]

Officer Arnds testified that on the night of May 24, 2015, he was on patrol with another officer, Officer Rodney Haia, and was assigned to investigate a motor vehicle collision on Eha Street. He testified that en route to the scene, Central Dispatch advised him that the responsible vehicle had fled the scene and was in the area of Pohala Street and Kuhio Street. Officer Arnds then proceeded directly to that area.

After investigating Kuhio Street, Officer Arnds proceeded to Pohala Street. He testified on direct examination that, there, at about 10:45 p.m., he "pulled up to a vehicle that [ ] might have been involved in a crash." He testified that he thought it might have been involved because "[w]hen we looked at the vehicle it was a gold Toyota pickup truck and had heavy front end damage." On cross-examination, however, Officer Arnds admitted that, the truck was parked on a grassy area next to — adjacent to — Kaianui’s garage, and that from the street, he couldn’t see any front end damage. Officer Arnds also observed Kaianui standing out in front of her residence; Officer Arnds later described her location as "kind of in front of the garage area." On re-direct, when asked again what drew his attention to the truck (and what prompted him to approach Kaianui) he stated: "I can’t — - we had a witness statement recalling that there was - there was a beige color — - I mean a champagne color Toyota pickup truck. At that point, I don’t recall how we got that information."

Officer Arnds then added: I do remember that there was a — - a local, is it a Hawaiian neighbor, standing next to her house pointing at the car. He was out front. I didn’t get his statement, though, but he was pointing at the car.

It was Kaianui’s neighbor was pointing at her truck. That — that was when we were kind of — - we were already pulling up. ...

Q. Okay.

A. So, the information the other officer had, we were at the house, I don’t know.

.....

Q. And so were you — - what roads were you checking on?

A. Well, Kuhio Street. ... And then Pohala Street is right — - is right next, is above, is one of the most northern mauka bound streets. ... So we made a right on Pohala. And then, like I said, there was a heavy set local Hawaiian neighbor out pointing at her car.

So I don’t know why he was pointing at the car at the time. No, I don’t know why. He didn’t say she was involved in a crash or anything like that. He just pointed at her car.

On recross-examination, Officer Arnds was asked: Q. Have you seen gold, a gold pickup — - Toyota pickups on this...

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