Simpson v. Commonwealth, 2014–SC–000653–MR

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
Writing for the CourtOPINION OF THE COURT BY JUSTICE VENTERS
Citation474 S.W.3d 544
Parties Michael E. Simpson, Appellant v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Appellee
Decision Date29 October 2015
Docket Number2014–SC–000653–MR

474 S.W.3d 544

Michael E. Simpson, Appellant
v.
Commonwealth of Kentucky, Appellee

2014–SC–000653–MR

Supreme Court of Kentucky.

RENDERED: OCTOBER 29, 2015


COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: Daniel T. Goyette, Louisville Metro Public Defender of Counsel, Office of the Louisville Metro Public Defender, Cicely Jaracz Lambert, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the Louisville Metro Public Defender, Sean Thomas Pharr, Louisville Metro Public Defender

COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Jack Conway, Attorney General of Kentucky, Taylor Allen Payne, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Office of the Attorney General

OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUSTICE VENTERS

Appellant, Michael Simpson, appeals from a judgment of the Jefferson Circuit Court convicting him of the crimes of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and of being a second-degree persistent felony offender. As enhanced, Appellant was sentenced to a total of twenty years in prison. He appeals as a matter of right.

Appellant contends that the trial court misapplied the law pertaining to a search based on a "protective sweep" when it denied his motion to suppress his illegal arrest, seizure, search and fruit from the poisonous tree under Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325, 110 S.Ct. 1093, 108 L.Ed.2d 276 (1990). More specifically, he argues that the police unlawfully located and identified him during the course of a protective sweep at a Louisville residence where he was staying, which in turn led to his unlawful arrest during the course of which he spontaneously uttered an incriminating statement to police. That incriminating utterance, Appellant contends, should have been suppressed as the fruit of an unlawful search, seizure, and arrest. We disagree.

As demonstrated below, the initial entry of police into the residence was consensual; under the totality of the circumstances, the scope of the protective sweep was reasonable; the initial seizure of Appellant was lawful; and the incriminating statement uttered upon his arrest was spontaneous and not a product of custodial interrogation. We find no violation of Maryland v. Buie or other applicable law. We conclude that suppression of Appellant's spontaneous utterance was not required. Accordingly, we affirm Appellant's conviction and sentence.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The chain of events leading to Appellant's incriminating statement began when Louisville Police Officers Spaulding and King stopped a vehicle registered to Cameron Adkins. Police had two outstanding warrants for Adkins' arrest. The driver of the vehicle explained to the officers that he was a friend of Adkins and he told them where she could be found. The officers went to the address and recognized Adkins on the porch. Upon seeing the officers approaching, Adkins quickly went inside the residence. The officers then called for assistance in apprehending Adkins.

Officer Spaulding knocked on the front door. When an occupant of the house, Anthony O'Neal, opened the blinds of a large window beside the door, Spaulding saw a handgun resting on the mantle inside the residence. As O'Neal opened the door, Spaulding saw Adkins retreat into the back part of the residence. O'Neal consented to the officers' request to enter the home to apprehend Adkins on the outstanding

474 S.W.3d 546

warrants. O'Neal's authority to consent to the officers' entry has not been challenged. Officer King and several other officers called in as backup entered the residence and joined the search for Adkins. O'Neal admitted to having possessed the handgun and that he was a convicted felon.

As they searched for Adkins, officers observed drug paraphernalia throughout the residence. Adkins was eventually located hiding in a bedroom with another female, Megan Bruce. Adkins and Bruce were taken into the front room while Officer King looked about the residence for other individuals whose presence might pose a potential threat to the officers. King found Appellant in the basement trying to hide behind the furnace, and brought him to the front room with the other occupants of the home.

The officers began a check to determine if any of the other individuals present had outstanding warrants. Adkins and Bruce had outstanding warrants and were arrested for that reason. O'Neal was arrested based upon his verified admission that he was a convicted felon and his admission that the handgun on the mantle belonged to him. Appellant falsely identified himself to officers as "Ralph Simpson." When officers found no outstanding warrant for "Ralph Simpson," they allowed Appellant to leave the residence.

Soon afterward, Officer King discovered that Appellant had misrepresented his true identity, and that his true name is Michael Simpson. Furthermore, it was discovered that a warrant for Appellant's arrest was outstanding. Appellant was quickly located and arrested on the warrant and for giving the police a false name. While being processed into jail, Appellant spontaneously acknowledged to Officer King that he owned the handgun found at the residence. At that point, Appellant was charged with the additional offense of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon.

Appellant was tried for possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and for being a persistent felony offender. Appellant moved to suppress the evidence gathered by police as a result of the search of O'Neal's residence. Appellant asserted that the statement he allegedly made to Officer King admitting ownership of the handgun found on the mantle should be suppressed because the police had neither reasonable suspicion nor probable cause to enter the basement of the residence and seize him, and that any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal seizure of his person must be suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree. See Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963). Finding that the officers engaged in a proper protective sweep which resulted in finding Appellant in the basement, the trial court denied the motion and the case proceeded to trial. Appellant was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a handgun. Appellant was additionally found to be a second-degree persistent felony offender and was sentenced to a total of twenty years' imprisonment. This appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review—the transition from RCr 9.78 to RCr 8.27

At the time of Appellant's trial, RCr 9.78 was in effect and governed pretrial motions to suppress evidence.1 RCr 9.78 provided that "[i]f supported by substantial evidence, the factual findings of the trial court shall be conclusive." Under RCr 9.78 we apply the two-step process adopted in Adcock v. Commonwealth, 967 S.W.2d 6 (Ky.1998).

474 S.W.3d 547

First, we review the trial court's findings of fact under a clearly erroneous standard. Welch v. Commonwealth, 149 S.W.3d 407, 409 (Ky.2004). Under this standard, the...

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58 practice notes
  • Warick v. Commonwealth, 2018-SC-000229-DG
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 29, 2019
    ...findings — a statement of the facts necessary to the motion — are required for proper review on appeal. See Simpson v. Commonwealth, 474 S.W.3d 544, 547 (Ky. 2015) (citations omitted) (describing appellate review of the denial of a suppression motion as consisting of 1) determining whether ......
  • Goben v. Commonwealth, 2014–SC–000712–MR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • December 15, 2016
    ...mixed questions of law and fact involved in the application of constitutional standards were reviewed de novo. Simpson v. Commonwealth, 474 S.W.3d 544, 546–47 (Ky. 2015) (citing Adcock v. Commonwealth, 967 S.W.2d 6 (Ky. 1998), and Payton v. Commonwealth, 327 S.W.3d 468 (Ky. 2010) ). As we n......
  • Commonwealth v. Garrett, NO. 2017-CA-001144-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • September 27, 2019
    ...unaffected" after the transition from RCr 9 9.78 to RCr 8.27, the rule for conducting suppression hearings. Simpson v. Commonwealth , 474 S.W.3d 544, 547 (Ky. 2015). The review is twofold. "First, we review the trial court’s findings of fact under a clearly erroneous standard. Under this st......
  • Commonwealth v. Perry, 2020-SC-0279-DG
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • September 30, 2021
    ...First, findings of fact are reviewed and will not be set aside unless they are clearly erroneous. CR 1 52.01 ; Simpson v. Commonwealth , 474 S.W.3d 544, 547 (Ky. 2015). Findings of fact are not clearly erroneous if they are supported by substantial evidence. Commonwealth v. Deloney , 20 S.W......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
58 cases
  • Warick v. Commonwealth, 2018-SC-000229-DG
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 29, 2019
    ...findings — a statement of the facts necessary to the motion — are required for proper review on appeal. See Simpson v. Commonwealth, 474 S.W.3d 544, 547 (Ky. 2015) (citations omitted) (describing appellate review of the denial of a suppression motion as consisting of 1) determining whether ......
  • Goben v. Commonwealth, 2014–SC–000712–MR
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • December 15, 2016
    ...mixed questions of law and fact involved in the application of constitutional standards were reviewed de novo. Simpson v. Commonwealth, 474 S.W.3d 544, 546–47 (Ky. 2015) (citing Adcock v. Commonwealth, 967 S.W.2d 6 (Ky. 1998), and Payton v. Commonwealth, 327 S.W.3d 468 (Ky. 2010) ). As we n......
  • Commonwealth v. Garrett, NO. 2017-CA-001144-MR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kentucky
    • September 27, 2019
    ...unaffected" after the transition from RCr 9 9.78 to RCr 8.27, the rule for conducting suppression hearings. Simpson v. Commonwealth , 474 S.W.3d 544, 547 (Ky. 2015). The review is twofold. "First, we review the trial court’s findings of fact under a clearly erroneous standard. Under this st......
  • Commonwealth v. Perry, 2020-SC-0279-DG
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • September 30, 2021
    ...First, findings of fact are reviewed and will not be set aside unless they are clearly erroneous. CR 1 52.01 ; Simpson v. Commonwealth , 474 S.W.3d 544, 547 (Ky. 2015). Findings of fact are not clearly erroneous if they are supported by substantial evidence. Commonwealth v. Deloney , 20 S.W......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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