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State v. Karna

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 5, 2016

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Dean Robert Karna, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of McLean County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable James S. Hill, Judge.

         AFFIRMED.

          Ladd R. Erickson, State's Attorney, for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.

          Russell J. Myhre, for defendant and appellant; submitted on brief.

          OPINION

          SANDSTROM, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Dean Karna appeals the judgment entered on conditional pleas of guilty to the charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The issue is whether the district court erred in denying Karna's motion to suppress evidence obtained by law enforcement while searching his home without a warrant. We affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] In 2015, a McLean County Sheriff's dispatcher received a phone call from Karna's brother stating Karna told him he had shot their father. Sheriff's deputies were familiar with the Karna family. They knew Dean Karna and his father lived in the same trailer home. Upon arriving at their residence, the deputies saw Karna outside smoking a cigarette, blocking the entry of the home. The deputies inquired whether Karna had shot his father. After Karna said no, a deputy brushed past him and entered the home. He saw a rifle on the couch, and he detained Karna. He then reentered the home and shouted to anyone inside to come to the front door. Nobody responded to his calls, so the deputy searched for the father.

         [¶ 3] After finding the father asleep in his bedroom, the deputy woke him and checked for injuries. He concluded the father had not been shot. While speaking with the father to ascertain what had occurred, the deputy asked whether any additional guns were in the house. The father said there was a gun in Karna's bedroom and gave the deputy permission to search his son's room. In the bathroom attached to the bedroom, the deputy saw drugs and drug paraphernalia in the sink. The deputies arrested Karna, and he was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.

         [¶ 4] Karna moved to suppress the marijuana and drug paraphernalia evidence, arguing the deputies entered his home without a warrant and no exception applied. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied his motion, finding the facts established the emergency exception to the warrant requirement allowed the deputies to enter the home. Karna appeals.

         [¶ 5] The district court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 27-05-06. Karna's appeal from the criminal judgment was timely under N.D.R.App.P. 4(b). This Court has jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, §§ 2 and 6, and N.D.C.C. § 29-28-06.

         II

         [¶ 6] Karna argues the emergency exception to the warrant requirement does not apply to the present facts and the search was unreasonable. We have explained our standard in reviewing a district court's findings:

A trial court's findings of fact in preliminary proceedings of a criminal case will not be reversed if, after the conflicts in the testimony are resolved in favor of affirmance, there is sufficient competent evidence fairly capable of supporting the trial court's findings, and the ...

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