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State v. Ryan

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 19, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RICKY DEAN RYAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David M. Porter (suppression motion) and Karen A. Romano (trial), Judges.

         Ricky Dean Ryan appeals after a jury found him guilty of three drug-related charges. AFFIRMED.

          Karmen Anderson of Anderson & Taylor, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Heard by Vogel, C.J., and Carr and Gamble, S.J. [*] May, J., takes no part.

          VOGEL, CHIEF JUDGE.

         A jury found Ricky Dean Ryan guilty on three drug-related charges. On appeal, he challenges the denial of his motion to suppress evidence and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On February 27, 2017, Ryan attended a scheduled appointment for drug testing, as required by conditions of his parole. When he submitted a urine specimen, the staff member monitoring the collection believed Ryan was using a device with fake urine to hide his drug use. The staff member told Ryan to show him the device or leave in violation of parole. Ryan denied using the device but refused to allow the staff member to check for it. He later admitted to having used the device.

         Carrie Schneider, a Probation/Parole Officer II with the Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, supervised Ryan while on parole. In light of Ryan's use of a device during drug testing, Officer Schneider suspected Ryan was using methamphetamine. Ryan did not follow through with offered drug treatment, and he later admitted to Officer Schneider that he had recently used methamphetamine. Officer Schneider then determined a home visit would be appropriate. Because only a Probation/Parole Officer III may perform home visits, Officer Schneider submitted a surveillance request asking an officer of that rank to check Ryan's apartment for signs of alcohol or drug use. Officer Randall Schultz, a Probation/Parole Officer III, received the request. Officer Schultz is also a certified law enforcement officer and a member of the fugitive unit for the Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services.

         On March 13, 2017, Officer Schultz and another officer went to Ryan's apartment to conduct the home visit. Officer Schultz heard voices within the apartment and knocked twice before Ryan answered the door. The officers informed Ryan they were there to conduct a home visit, and Ryan allowed them into his apartment.

         When the officers entered, they found two other men seated in the living room. The officers saw a digital scale on top of a coffee table along with what Officer Schultz believed to be a "tooter straw" used to ingest methamphetamine.[1]Officer Schultz also saw what appeared to be a handgun near the coffee table, though he later determined it was a BB gun. Several "large hunting-style knives" were on the floor next to the table.

         Due to the presence of weapons in plain view, the officers placed Ryan in handcuffs to ensure their safety while they searched the immediate area. The officers also asked to search the two men in the apartment, and they consented. When officers found nothing illegal on the men, they asked the men to leave the apartment.

         During their search of the living-room area, the officers found a large sum of currency and two large bags containing smaller bags that held a substance later determined to be methamphetamine. The currency and bags of methamphetamine were located on the floor next to the chair positioned nearest to the coffee table, which had been unoccupied when the officers entered the apartment. Packaged along with the methamphetamine was a small bag containing a trace amount of marijuana.

         Ryan told the officers the methamphetamine belonged to him and admitted he sells methamphetamine to supply his habit. Because the officers found what they believed to be evidence of a crime, they contacted a narcotics investigator. Officer Schultz then arrested Ryan for violating the terms of his parole and transported him to jail.

         The State charged Ryan with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, a class "B" felony; failure to possess a tax stamp, a class "D" felony; and possession of marijuana, a class "D" felony. Following ...


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