In a published opinion in United States v. Keefauver, No. 20121026, 73 M.J. 846 (A.Ct.Crim.App. Jul. 29, 2014) (link to slip op.), a three-judge panel of the Army CCA conducts what looks to be an unremarkable application of precedent to facts to affirm a military judge’s ruling that admitted evidence discovered by law enforcement agents during a protective sweep search of the appellant’s on-base residence. The search occurred after the agents completed a controlled delivery of a U.S. Mail package smelling strongly of marijuana and ultimately found to contain between three and four pounds of the drug.
While the CCA notes that Supreme Court precedent permits “a protective sweep [which] is a quick and limited search of premises conducted to protect the safety of police officers or others,” slip op. at 7 (quoting United States v. Starnes, 741 F.3d. 804, 807 (7th Cir. 2013)), the following facts appear to have a significant role in the CCA’s ultimate conclusion:
Once the package was inside the house, the surveillance team moved in and entered the home to retrieve the box. TC-D answered the door and SA SR informed him that he was with the police and was there to search the home. TC-D became “irate,” yelling an “ungodly tirade of obscenities” at the agents including, “what the fuck” and “get the fuck off my property,” as well as “I hate pigs,” “I hate cops,” “[c]ops can all die,” or words to that effect. He was placed in handcuffs and seated near the garage. Special Agent SR immediately located the package right inside the home in the hallway, about ten feet from the front door.
Slip op. at 4. The agents discovered drug paraphernalia, firearms, additional drugs, and thousands of dollars worth of U.S. currency in the house.
The appellant was convicted contrary to his pleas of not guilty, by a general court-martial composed of a military judge alone, of two specifications of violating a general regulation by wrongfully possessing drug paraphernalia and unregistered weapons on-post, one specification of wrongful possession of marijuana, and one specification of child endangerment in violation of Articles 92, 112a, and 134, and was sentenced to confinement for four years, total forfeitures, reduction to E-1, and a bad-conduct discharge. Slip op. at 1.