The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a Salt Lake federal judge, ruling that police in West Valley City acted properly in seizing weapons from a car during a narcotics raid.
The ruling from the appellate panel set aside a decision from U.S. District Judge David Winder, who earlier threw out evidence seized from the car.Prosecutors say the decision could lead to prosecution of Bruce T. Gottschalk, 36, on a charge stemming from discovery of a silencer-equipped rifle during an August 1989 raid in Copperton, Utah.
During the raid, officers seized five pounds of chemicals used to make methamphetamine, drug-lab equipment and two dozen weapons - including a Chinese assault rifle and the silencer, said prosecutor Wayne Dance.
Gottschalk's yellow Cadillac had been parked in the driveway of William Bailey's Copperton home, where an informant told police the suspects were making drugs, court documents state.
After police obtained a search warrant, a retired Salt Lake County sheriff, who lived nearby, told local officers and federal agents the suspects were moving objects from the Cadillac's trunk.
Police said they found a rifle fitted with a silencer and other weapons when they searched the Cadillac.
Gottschalk later testified he had left nothing in the trunk except some personal items and that he had not authorized anyone to place firearms in the car.
U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce recommended Gottschalk's motion to suppress evidence found in the car be denied. But Winder ruled that because Bailey, owner of the home, was not the owner of the Cadillac, the warrant did not authorize police to search the car.
The appeals court, however, found that police acted properly in assuming the car was under the control of Bailey.
"Police had reliable information that the Cadillac was being used as a storage place by persons within the residence and that objects were being moved from the trunk of the car into the garage," the appellate court wrote.
In addition, Bailey had access to keys left in the car's ignition "and could easily use the trunk or other compartments in which to hide drugs or weapons."
Police say they arrested Gottschalk after finding a briefcase containing a pipe bomb with a time fuse. Papers inside the briefcase linked the bomb to Gottschalk, prosecutors said. Trial for Gottschalk is pending.
Bailey, 57, was sentenced last March to 15 years and eight months in prison on his guilty plea to manufacturing methamphetamine.
Gottschalk has been held in the Salt Lake County Jail on one count of manufacturing methamphetamine and four counts of carrying firearms in a drug-trafficking crime.
Boyce ordered Gottschalk jailed, ruling the defendant is a flight risk and a danger to the community.