from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Carol S. Egly
(motion to suppress) and Cynthia M. Moisan (bench trial),
District Associate Judges.
defendant challenges the probable cause supporting a search
warrant to obtain his DNA. AFFIRMED.
Young of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gentry Brown &
Bergmann L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., McDonald, J., and Scott, S.J.
Davisson was found guilty of operating a vehicle without the
owner's consent, in violation of Iowa Code section 714.7
(2015). In this appeal he challenges the district court's
denial of his motion to suppress. He asserts there is a lack
of probable cause supporting the search warrant that was used
to obtain a sample of his DNA.
warrants are only to issue upon a finding of probable cause.
State v. Green, 540 N.W.2d 649, 655 (Iowa 1995). The
test the issuing judge must apply is "whether a
reasonably prudent person would believe that a crime has been
committed on the premises to be searched or evidence of a
crime is being concealed there." Id. There must
be "a nexus between criminal activity, the things to be
seized, and the place to be searched." Id.
(citation omitted). On appeal, while our review is de novo,
"our task is not to make an independent determination of
probable cause, but only to determine whether the issuing
magistrate had a 'substantial basis for . . .
conclud[ing] that probable cause existed.'"
Id. (alteration in original) (citation omitted). We
are "obliged to give great deference to a
magistrate's finding of probable cause to search."
Id. "Close cases must be resolved in favor of
upholding warrants, as public policy is promoted by
encouraging officers to seek them." Id.
case, on April 7, 2015, a Cadillac was stolen from a vehicle
dealer in Des Moines. Two days later on April 9, it was
discovered in Madrid, Iowa, in a parking lot with a plastic
drink cup and straw inside. Officers suspected Davisson of
the theft and applied for a search warrant to obtain his DNA
to test against the cup and straw found in the car. In
support of the search warrant, the officers averred Davisson
was arrested in Des Moines for possession of drug
paraphernalia on April 6, 2015. The vehicle he was in at the
time of his arrest was a Yukon, which was later determined to
have been stolen from the same parking lot in Madrid where
the Cadillac was found. Davisson was released from the Polk
County Jail on April 7, 2015, the day the Cadillac was
stolen, and the jail is located approximately eight blocks
from the vehicle dealer where the Cadillac was stolen. Two
days later, Davisson was arrested in a truck that was also
stolen on April 7, 2015, from a parking lot in Madrid across
the street from where the Cadillac was found and where the
Yukon had been stolen earlier.
appeal, Davisson asserts this information only puts him in
proximity to where the Cadillac was located and provides no
additional information linking him to the theft of the
Cadillac. From our review of the record presented to the
issuing magistrate, it is reasonable to deduce that Davisson
first stole the Yukon from a parking lot in Madrid and drove
it to Des Moines, where he was arrested in the Yukon on April
6. When he was released from jail the next day, he walked the
eight blocks to the vehicle dealer, stole the Cadillac, and
drove it back to Madrid, first stopping to obtain a drink at
a gas station. He abandoned the Cadillac in the same parking
lot where he had initially taken the Yukon, walked across the
street, and stole the truck. He was arrested in possession of
the truck two days later.
proximity to the location where the Cadillac was stolen in
Des Moines and the location where it was recovered in Madrid,
along with his possession of two other stolen vehicles taken
from the same location in Madrid in the days surrounding the
theft of the Cadillac, provided the issuing judge the nexus
between Davisson and the crime. As the district court noted
in ruling on Davisson's motion to suppress, there was
probable cause to believe "someone might have dropped
off one stolen vehicle and picked up and stole another
deference to the judge's probable cause finding, we find
there was a "substantial basis for . . . conclud[ing]
that probable cause existed" to obtain Davisson's
DNA in order to test it against the cup and straw found in
the Cadillac. See id. We affirm the district
court's decision denying Davisson's motion to