474 F.3d 1249 (10th Cir. 2007), 05-2287, United States v. Walker

Docket Nº:05-2287.
Citation:474 F.3d 1249
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Sheridan WALKER, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:January 31, 2007
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 1249

474 F.3d 1249 (10th Cir. 2007)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Sheridan WALKER, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 05-2287.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

January 31, 2007

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO, D.C. NO. CR-04-519-RB.

Page 1250

Charles A. Harwood, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Las Cruces, NM, for Defendant-Appellant.

David Williams, Assistant United States Attorney, (David C. Iglesias, United States Attorney, and Laura Fashing, Assistant United States Attorney, on the brief), Albuquerque, NM, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Page 1251

Before HARTZ, ANDERSON, and McCONNELL, Circuit Judges.

HARTZ, Circuit Judge.

Sheridan Walker was indicted in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and certain types of ammunition, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). He moved to suppress the evidence found in his home during a sweep by police officers, and the district court denied the motion. He then pleaded guilty to the charges but reserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. On appeal he challenges that denial. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We reverse the decision of the district court and remand for it to determine whether exigent circumstances may have allowed police to search the house for victims in need of immediate aid.

I. FACTS

In the early afternoon of October 26, 2003, an anonymous woman called 911 in Roosevelt County to report that two men at 1868 Highway 236 had guns and were threatening to kill each other. When the dispatcher asked the caller what the two men were doing at the moment, she replied, "I don't know. I left." R. Vol. III at 98-99. At 12:33 p.m. the dispatcher forwarded the information to Deputy Sheriff Malin Parker. Parker attempted to confirm the address by reference to the Sheriff's home, which he knew to be at 600 Highway 236. After an apparent miscommunication with the dispatcher, he arrived at the home next door to the Sheriff's, where a woman was standing outside gardening. He asked the woman whether she had heard any gunshots or seen anything unusual in the neighborhood; she replied that she had not. Parker quickly realized that he was at the wrong house, and that 1868 Highway 236 was on the other side of the Sheriff's home. Once he saw the house at 1868 Highway 236, he recognized it from previous experience as that of Sheridan Walker.

Despite the confusion Deputy Parker arrived at the Walker residence within nine or ten minutes of the dispatch alert. He saw no cars or people near the house. As he approached the house, he heard over his police radio that Deputy Raul Rosa was meeting with John Walker--Sheridan's son--at the police station. During the meeting Rosa had heard the alert and noticed that the address was John Walker's. Parker radioed Rosa to ask whether John Walker had said anything about someone at the house being armed, but Rosa had no additional information. Parker then asked Rosa who was involved in the altercation mentioned in the alert; Rosa replied that it was supposed to be John and Sheridan Walker.

As Deputy Parker walked to the door of the Walker home, two other officers arrived. He knocked several times on the storm door (which was glass with a metal frame) and announced himself each time by saying "Sheriff's office," R. Vol. III at 20 (emphasis omitted); but he got no response. He opened the storm door to knock on the inner wooden door, which was about 10 inches ajar. (Although Mr. Walker's wife testified that the door had a doorbell, Parker testified that he did not see one, or he would have used it). As he...

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