912 F.2d 208 (8th Cir. 1990), 89-2814, United States v. Peters

Docket Nº:89-2814.
Citation:912 F.2d 208
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Ronald E. PETERS, Appellant.
Case Date:August 16, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 208

912 F.2d 208 (8th Cir. 1990)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,

v.

Ronald E. PETERS, Appellant.

No. 89-2814.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 16, 1990

Submitted April 11, 1990.

Page 209

Joseph A. Fenlon, Granite City, Ill., for appellant.

James K. Steitz, St. Louis, Mo., for appellee.

Before JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge, FLOYD R. GIBSON, and HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judges.

JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge.

Ronald E. Peters appeals from his conviction of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(iii) (1988). The district court 1 sentenced Peters to 160 months imprisonment and 5 years supervised release. Peters argues that the evidence used to secure his conviction was seized in violation of his fourth amendment rights, that the government presented insufficient evidence to establish his intent to distribute cocaine, and that the court erred in sentencing him based upon the weight of the cocaine seized. We affirm the judgment and sentence imposed.

A St. Louis Police Department detective received information that an informant believed that drugs were being sold out of room 206 at the Thrifty Inn hotel in St. Louis. The officer contacted the room clerk and learned that the room was rented

Page 210

to Lafayette Ely. A police computer check revealed that there was an outstanding bench warrant against Lafayette Ely issued by the Municipal Court of the City of St. Louis for failure to appear in traffic court on a charge of driving the wrong way on a one-way street. The detective and four other officers went to the hotel room to make an arrest under the traffic warrant. The officers knocked on the door and Peters opened it. The detective looked into the room through the open doorway and saw a clear plastic bag containing a substance he believed to be crack cocaine, a razor blade, and a scale. The detective immediately drew his revolver and arrested Peters. Lafayette Ely was never found, but his driver's license had been left with the hotel clerk. After the arrest, the police seized the plastic bag and its contents, the razor blade, a cardboard box with a small portable scale, and a Greyhound bus ticket.

I.

Peters first argues that the police seizure of the crack cocaine in his hotel room violated his fourth amendment rights. He maintains that the actions of the police officers in knocking on his hotel room door and in looking into his hotel room through the door after he opened it constituted a search, and, further, that the arrest warrant the officers had for Lafayette Ely was insufficient justification for the search. We are not convinced by Peters' arguments.

We review constitutional issues de novo. See United States v. Savinovich, 845 F.2d 834, 839 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 943, 109 S.Ct. 369, 102 L.Ed.2d 358 (1988). When an individual voluntarily opens the door of his or her place of residence in response to a simple knock, the individual is...

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