State v. Weber

CourtCourt of Appeals of Minnesota
Decision Date08 September 2020
Docket NumberA19-1105
PartiesState of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Ryan Scott Weber, Appellant.

This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2018).


Bratvold, Judge

Chisago County District Court

File No. 13-CR-17-1011

Keith Ellison, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and

Janet Reiter, Chisago County Attorney, Brian J. Duginske, Assistant County Attorney, Center City, Minnesota (for respondent)

Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Christopher L. Mishek, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Bjorkman, Presiding Judge; Bratvold, Judge; and Frisch, Judge.



In this appeal from a final judgment of conviction for first-degree drug possession, appellant seeks review of a district court order denying his motion to suppress evidence seized after law enforcement conducted a warrantless search of an air-conditioning unit in appellant's backyard and found drugs inside a camera case located inside the unit. Appellant argues that the third party who consented to the search did not have actual or apparent authority to do so. Appellant also argues that, even if the third party had the necessary authority to consent, law enforcement exceeded the scope of that consent by opening the closed camera case. We conclude that the third party had actual authority or, alternatively, apparent authority, to consent to a search of the premises. Because appellant failed to argue to the district court that the third party did not have actual authority to consent to a search of the camera case, or that law enforcement exceeded the scope of the third party's consent, we decline to consider these issues. Thus, we affirm.


The following summarizes evidence received at the contested omnibus hearing and the district court's findings of fact in its suppression order.

In the early evening on November 2, 2017, three sheriff's deputies responded to a house in Chisago County. Appellant Ryan Scott Weber's 17-year-old son called police and requested assistance while A.R., his father's "estranged" girlfriend, removed her personal items from the house.

Deputy Swenson arrived first. While on his way, Swenson learned that A.R.'s driver's license listed the house as her address, and that police had arrested Weber at the house earlier that day for a domestic dispute between A.R. and Weber. The landlord and A.R. were standing outside the house when Swenson arrived. A.R. told Swenson that she "had been involved in an incident earlier and was there to get property." Swenson testifiedthat A.R. "was indicating she lived there." The landlord told Swenson that A.R. was "on the lease" and lived at the house. Swenson testified that he "believe[d]" that A.R. lived at the house, although he did not know if A.R. had a key.

At the time, Swenson did not know that A.R. had not been living at the house for the past month, but had recently returned and stayed a few nights before the search. But Swenson testified that Weber's son told him something similar—that A.R. "had been gone for a period of time" and he wanted police to "remove[]" her. Weber's son testified that he wanted A.R. to "have an escort so she [didn't] steal any of our stuff."

Swenson testified that he told Weber's son he would not remove A.R. from the property. He determined "there's no legal basis to remove her" because she "resides there." Swenson testified that "everybody was in agreement" that "there wouldn't be further problems if [A.R.] stayed" at the house that evening, and that it "[s]ounded like [A.R.] was going to stay there that night and possibly leave in the morning."

Before "clearing the incident," Swenson spoke with the landlord to get his information for the incident report. The landlord told Swenson that he had concerns about Weber, including that there was an air-conditioning unit "that he believed was stolen on the property." The landlord explained that there had been a working air-conditioning unit installed at the house when Weber and A.R. moved in, but that they "removed it and brought this new one in." The new unit "wasn't even hooked up to the house at this time." The landlord asked Swenson to look at the unit.

Swenson was aware of a "crime stopper" tip from July or August 2017 that named Weber as a suspect in an air-conditioning-unit theft from a rest area off Interstate 35.Swenson testified that he asked A.R. "whether or not she was aware of an air-conditioning unit on the property "being stolen"; A.R. responded that she "believed that it was also stolen." Swenson testified that he "asked about getting permission from [A.R.] to look around the property, which she granted." The district court found that A.R. consented for Swenson to "check the air conditioning unit."

Swenson went "to the back of the house" and saw "two different AC units there." He saw one unit "was sitting still where it had been disconnected from the house; the other one was sitting off to the side." He approached the unit that "didn't appear to be hooked to the house or anything" and was within two feet of the house. Swenson "opened that one up to try to find a serial number for it" by removing an access panel on the side of the unit. He saw a black camera case inside the unit, thought it "seemed pretty suspicious," but did nothing with the camera case. Swenson located two serial numbers, one on a "compressor inside the AC unit" and one "on the outer edge" of the access panel. He asked dispatch to search for both serial numbers, but received no match to reported stolen property.

Meanwhile, deputies Hamm and Edmonds arrived and spoke with A.R. Hamm testified that A.R. told him she lived "technically here, but I have been residing at two other places for maybe the last—maybe about a month or so." Swenson told Edmonds and Hamm that A.R. had consented to them looking around the backyard and "investigating the air conditioning unit." Swenson asked Edmonds for help in finding the serial number. Edmonds looked at the unit, saw the access panel placed on top of the unit, and noticed the camera case inside the unit. Edmonds testified that the "camera case itself was clean, wasnot weathered," and "appeared as though it had been recently placed inside of the air conditioning unit."

Edmonds removed the camera case and opened it. Inside, he found a digital scale and "several small plastic baggies containing a white-colored crystalized substance." The substance field-tested positive for methamphetamine, and later testing confirmed it was roughly 120 grams of methamphetamine. Edmonds also found another serial number inside the air-conditioning unit later determined to match the one reported stolen.

The state charged Weber with first-degree controlled-substance possession under Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2(a)(1) (2016), along with other charges.1 Weber moved the district court to suppress the drug evidence obtained as a result of the deputies' warrantless search of the air-conditioning unit, arguing the search was illegal because the deputies relied on A.R.'s unauthorized consent.2

At a contested omnibus hearing, the state called deputies Swenson and Edmonds, and Weber called his son and deputy Hamm. The landlord and A.R. did not testify. The deputies testified to the facts summarized above. The district court received exhibits: a recorded statement that A.R. gave to the deputies after the search, a transcript of A.R.'sstatement, the crime-stopper email about the stolen air-conditioning unit, and four photos of the air-conditioning unit.

Weber's son testified that he lived at the house until December 2017, and that A.R. had moved out of the house in late September or early October. He testified that she visited after she moved out, and agreed that A.R. may have spent "a couple nights" at the house before Weber's arrest on the morning of November 2, 2017. He also testified that he did not know if A.R. had a key. Weber's son testified that while Weber was being arrested earlier in the day, Weber told him not to let A.R. into the house because she would "steal all of [their] stuff."

The district court issued a written order denying Weber's suppression motion. The district court found that A.R. had "actual authority to consent to a search of the air conditioning unit on the property" because she was on the lease, was residing at the address "for two and a half days immediately preceding" the incident, and "had common authority over the premises." The district court also found that, even if A.R. lacked actual authority, "it was objectively reasonable under the circumstances" for the deputies to conclude that she had apparent authority to consent to a search because the address on her driver's license "matched" Weber's house, the landlord confirmed she was on the lease, the deputies knew that law enforcement had interacted with her at the house earlier in the day, and she had personal property at the house.

After a two-day jury trial, the jury found Weber guilty of first-degree drug possession. The district court convicted Weber and imposed an executed sentence of 75 months with credit for time served. Weber appeals.


When reviewing the denial of a pretrial motion to suppress evidence, we review the district court's legal conclusions de novo and factual findings for clear error. State v. Molnau, 904 N.W.2d 449, 451 (Minn. 2017). The district court's findings of fact are clearly erroneous if an appellate court, after reviewing the record evidence, is "left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake occurred." State v. Diede, 795 N.W.2d 836, 846-47 (Minn. 2011). "Whether actual or apparent authority to consent exists is a legal question subject to de novo review." State v. Dotson, 900 N.W.2d 445, 450 (Minn. App. 2017).

I. The district court did not err when it denied Weber's suppression motion because A.R. had...

To continue reading

Request your trial

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