State v. Lowe, No. 10–1454.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtZAGER
Citation812 N.W.2d 554
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellant, v. Robert Dale LOWE, Jr., Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 10–1454.
Decision Date15 March 2012

812 N.W.2d 554

STATE of Iowa, Appellant,
v.
Robert Dale LOWE, Jr., Appellee.

No. 10–1454.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Jan. 20, 2012.
Rehearing Denied March 15, 2012.


[812 N.W.2d 562]


Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Elisabeth S. Reynoldson, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Daniel C. Voogt, Assistant County Attorney, for appellant.

Nicholas A. Sarcone and Dean A. Stowers of Stowers Law Firm, West Des Moines, for appellee.


ZAGER, Justice.

The State appeals an adverse ruling on a motion which suppressed statements made by the defendant, Robert Lowe, as having been made in response to a promise of leniency, thereby rendering them involuntary. Lowe cross-appeals, claiming the district court erred in overruling his motion to suppress his statements as a violation of Miranda and, more specifically, as a violation of the ban on questioning a defendant after that defendant has invoked his right to counsel. Lowe further claims the district court erred in not suppressing all evidence found at the scene because the consent that led to the search of the premises was only obtained by prior police illegality. Lowe also claims that the consent to search provided by Cody Audsley was not voluntary and that he—Lowe—was removed

[812 N.W.2d 563]

from the area to prevent him from objecting to any search, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. We hold that the search was proper and that the motion to suppress the physical evidence obtained as a result of the search was properly denied. We further hold that because there was not sufficient exigency to justify the police reinitiating questioning of Lowe following Lowe's request for counsel, the public safety exception to Miranda does not apply under the facts of this case, and therefore, Lowe's statements were properly suppressed.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

At 10:00 p.m. on April 6, 2010, dispatch informed Detective Corey Schneden of the Ankeny Police Department that a female (Cindy) was being treated in the emergency room of a local hospital for a drug overdose. Schneden was advised the female likely ingested the drugs at Cody Audsley's residence, a mobile home in Ankeny. Schneden went to Audsley's residence for the purpose of interviewing her. He was accompanied by Officers Webb and Ripperger, both of whom were in uniform. Schneden was not in uniform, but was wearing a police department T-shirt, as well as a badge and gun.

Upon arrival, Schneden approached the main entrance on the south side of the mobile home. Ripperger was directly behind Schneden, and Webb was on a gravel drive east of and adjacent to Audsley's mobile home. Webb went to the east side of the mobile home to prevent anyone from fleeing when Schneden knocked on the door. Webb was standing on a gravel driveway between Audsley's mobile home and another mobile home and was about a foot away from a window with a partially open blind which was broken or bent. When Schneden knocked on the door, Webb observed Audsley retrieve something from the kitchen table and place it in a kitchen cabinet. Webb also observed Lowe run towards the back of the residence and out of view. At this point, Webb went to the yard on the north side of the residence to determine whether Lowe had fled.

After Schneden knocked on the door, he identified himself as a police officer. Schneden asked for, and received, Audsley's permission to enter the residence. As he entered, he introduced Ripperger and asked if they could ask Audsley a few questions. Audsley agreed. At this point, Webb was advised that both residents were now in the living area, so Webb joined Schneden and Ripperger in the residence. Audsley never gave Webb explicit permission to enter, but never asked him to leave. At no point did Audsley ask the officers to leave.

After entering, the police encountered Lowe and asked him to identify himself. Lowe produced identification and stated he lived with his mother elsewhere in Ankeny. He specifically denied that he lived at Audsley's residence. However, Lowe also stated that he was staying at Audsley's and that he was a guest. Later on in the evening, Lowe was allowed to change from gym shorts into sweatpants. Officers later found male clothing in a bedroom of the mobile home.

In response to questioning, Audsley denied using drugs with Cindy that day. During this initial questioning, Audsley was repeatedly reminded of the very serious medical condition Cindy was facing and was also confronted with Webb's observation of Audsley grabbing something from the table and placing it in the kitchen cabinet. During this time, officers asked her at least three times for consent to search the residence. While she did not expressly deny consent the first two times,

[812 N.W.2d 564]

she said no on the third occasion. At that point, Schneden asked Lowe to step outside with him to talk out of Audsley's presence. Schneden was outside with Lowe for only a few minutes. He asked Lowe if he knew what drugs Cindy might have taken earlier that day and explained that Cindy was in need of medical treatment and that the officers needed to know what she might have taken. According to Schneden, Lowe was free to leave at any time. Lowe denied having knowledge of any drugs Cindy might have taken.

While Schneden and Lowe were outside, Ripperger and Webb continued their questioning of Audsley. Webb told Audsley that the officers needed to know what Cindy had taken and that Cindy's life might be in danger if Audsley did not tell them what she knew. Audsley then responded, “We smoked weed together. Do you want it?” At that point, Ripperger asked Audsley where the marijuana was, and Audsley pointed to a Del Monte fruit can on the coffee table. Around this time, Schneden and Lowe reentered the residence, and Ripperger told Schneden that Audsley admitted smoking marijuana earlier in the day with Cindy and that there was marijuana hidden in the fruit can on the table. With Audsley's permission, Webb picked the fruit can up. He then asked Audsley for consent to open it, which he received. After unscrewing a false bottom on the can, Webb found a pipe and marijuana. Once the marijuana was discovered, Audsley and Lowe were not free to leave. Audsley then refused to consent to a search of the rest of the residence.

Around midnight on April 6, 2010, Schneden contacted Detective Matthew Jenkins, a member of the Ankeny Police Department assigned to the Mid–Iowa Narcotics Task Force, to assist in obtaining a search warrant for Audsley's mobile home. The probable cause for the search warrant was the discovery of the marijuana and drug paraphernalia.1 The police did not begin searching the residence until 3:00 a.m. when Jenkins arrived with the search warrant. At that time, Lowe and Audsley were inside the residence and neither was in handcuffs. Jenkins provided each of them with the Miranda warning. While Audsley agreed to speak with Jenkins, Lowe immediately requested to speak with counsel. Lowe was then placed in a squad car. Audsley remained in the mobile home during the search.

Sometime during the search, Schneden entered the bathroom area and found what he believed to be components of a meth lab. This was not an active meth lab, and none of the officers reported smelling any odors associated with methamphetamine production. After being advised of this discovery, Jenkins became concerned for the safety of his officers and the neighbors. He spoke to Audsley, who confirmed that Lowe had been involved in manufacturing methamphetamine in the past, but it was not to be made in the residence. Officers were told to suspend their search until Jenkins could speak to Lowe about whether there was anything dangerous in the residence.

Jenkins then went back to the squad car, opened the door, and reiterated to Lowe that he did not have to speak with him, that he was “not asking to get you [Lowe] in trouble,” but that he did not want to find any anhydrous. Lowe confirmed that there was nothing active going

[812 N.W.2d 565]

on at that time, but Lowe stated that there was an empty anhydrous tank in the shed and that it was his, not Audsley's.

On May 4, 2010, Lowe and Audsley were charged with conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance, manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of anhydrous ammonia with intent to manufacture a controlled substance, and possession of lithium with intent to manufacture a controlled substance. Lowe moved to suppress his statements to police, alleging the statements were elicited in violation of his rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and article I, section 9 of the Iowa Constitution when Jenkins reinitiated questioning after Lowe invoked his right to counsel. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied the motion, finding that Jenkins reinitiated questioning out of a concern for officer safety and that such questioning was proper under a public safety exception to Miranda.

Lowe filed another motion to suppress on June 17, alleging the search warrant for Audsley's mobile home was based on information obtained by a prior illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. After an additional evidentiary hearing, the district court overruled Lowe's second motion, finding Audsley's consent was freely and voluntarily given and there was no evidence of coercion in the record. The next day, Lowe moved to enlarge the findings and rulings, claiming the court insufficiently supported its findings and did not rule on all the issues before it, namely whether Audsley's consent was induced by a prior illegal search. The motion to enlarge the findings and rulings was overruled by the motion judge. A motion to reconsider this ruling was brought before the trial judge who also denied it. Further motions on the issues involving the search and seizure of physical evidence were also denied.

On July 7, Lowe...

To continue reading

Request your trial
58 practice notes
  • State v. Kern, No. 11–1208.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 24, 2013
    ...a two-step approach to determine whether there has been a violation of ... article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution.” State v. Lowe, 812 N.W.2d 554, 567 (Iowa 2012). First, the defendant must show he or she has “a legitimate expectation of privacy in the area searched.” Id. Second, if ......
  • Pippen v. State, No. 12–0913.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 2014
    ...of whether article IX, division 1, section 12 of the Iowa Constitution provides enforceable rights to a public education); State v. Lowe, 812 N.W.2d 554, 593 n. 23 (Iowa 2012) (Appel, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (reserving the question of whether Iowa should abandon the m......
  • State v. McGee, No. 19-1219
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 14, 2021
    ...103, 109, 126 S. Ct. 1515, 1520, 164 L.Ed.2d 208 (2006) (quoting Jones , 357 U.S. at 499, 78 S. Ct. at 1257 ); see also State v. Lowe , 812 N.W.2d 554, 572 (Iowa 2012) ("The State has the burden to prove the consent was voluntary, and voluntariness is a ‘question of fact to be determined fr......
  • State v. King, No. 13–1061.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 26, 2015
    ...and our task is to determine whether the right has been violated by considering the competing interests at stake. See State v. Lowe, 812 N.W.2d 554, 567–68 (Iowa 2012) (evaluating 867 N.W.2d 119whether a legitimate expectation of privacy existed before addressing if there had been an unreas......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
60 cases
  • State v. Kern, No. 11–1208.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 24, 2013
    ...a two-step approach to determine whether there has been a violation of ... article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution.” State v. Lowe, 812 N.W.2d 554, 567 (Iowa 2012). First, the defendant must show he or she has “a legitimate expectation of privacy in the area searched.” Id. Second, if ......
  • Pippen v. State, No. 12–0913.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 2014
    ...of whether article IX, division 1, section 12 of the Iowa Constitution provides enforceable rights to a public education); State v. Lowe, 812 N.W.2d 554, 593 n. 23 (Iowa 2012) (Appel, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (reserving the question of whether Iowa should abandon the m......
  • State v. McGee, No. 19-1219
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 14, 2021
    ...103, 109, 126 S. Ct. 1515, 1520, 164 L.Ed.2d 208 (2006) (quoting Jones , 357 U.S. at 499, 78 S. Ct. at 1257 ); see also State v. Lowe , 812 N.W.2d 554, 572 (Iowa 2012) ("The State has the burden to prove the consent was voluntary, and voluntariness is a ‘question of fact to be determined fr......
  • State v. King, No. 13–1061.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 26, 2015
    ...and our task is to determine whether the right has been violated by considering the competing interests at stake. See State v. Lowe, 812 N.W.2d 554, 567–68 (Iowa 2012) (evaluating 867 N.W.2d 119whether a legitimate expectation of privacy existed before addressing if there had been an unreas......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT