Trash search yields evidence in drug case
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Two alleged drug abusers made one small misstep last month that led to their arrests:
They took out the trash.
That’s where police officers found the evidence to get search warrants for two Carroll houses, according to court documents filed Monday.
In each case, a police officer nabbed bags of trash that the alleged criminals placed at the curb for pick-up. The officers took the bags to the police station and sifted through the junk for clues.
Officer James Anderson told a judge that he went to 1011 Harriet Ave., on the city’s west side, at about 2:45 a.m. on Dec. 13 and took three bags of trash from the curb.
Inside the bags he found baggies with marijuana residue, stems and a seed. He also found a name: Ryan Audlehelm.
A week later, another officer went to 1102 N. Main St., across the street from Adams Elementary School. He took five trash bags.
Inside were marijuana residue, stems, seeds and another name: Ashley Bates.
Carroll Police Chief Jeff Cayler declined to say what led his department to search the trash at the two homes. Nor would he comment on how often the tactic is used to get search warrants.
But he did say that the covert work can be “nasty” at times.
“Imagine your own trash on any given day,” he said. “Dirty diapers. Animal waste. Cigarette ashes.”
Cayler said his officers wear rubber gloves but nothing to guard against the smell while searching for evidence.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled more than 20 years ago that residents have no reasonable expectation of privacy when they put trash on the curb for pick-up. The court said that a law-enforcement officer who snoops through a resident’s trash does not violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
A district judge granted Officer Anderson the search warrants for Audlehelm’s and Bates’ homes and vehicles last month.
Anderson planned to search for: drugs and any equipment used to consume, produce or sell them; paper and electronic documents that showed drug use or trafficking, money, cell phones and guns, according to court documents.
Police searched the house on Harriet Avenue on Dec. 26 at about 3:30 p.m.
— About 80 grams of marijuana, which equals about 22 individual bags of the drug that could be sold to users.
— Three scales for weighing the drug.
— $105 cash.
— Five pipes for smoking.
— Various containers that had small amounts of marijuana.
Police arrested six people:
Adam Audlehelm, 23, and Ryan D. Audlehelm, 25, who live at the house, were arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and gathering for use of marijuana. Joshua K. Lawler, 22, of Carroll, and Lauren E. Humphrey, 20, of North Liberty, were arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Brittany N. Marine, 26, of Auburn, was arrested for possession of marijuana. Matthew R. Becke, 25, of Des Moines, was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
Becke’s suitcase contained most of the marijuana, cash and a digital scale, court records show. He faces up to five years in prison.
Police searched an apartment in the house near Adams Elementary on New Year’s Day at about 1:16 a.m.
— Small amounts of marijuana, some of which was hidden in Ashley Bates’ bra.
— Several drug-smoking devices, including glass pipes, a pop can and two bongs, one of which was made from a Gatorade bottle.
— A small baggie of what appeared to be methamphetamine.
— A tube used to snort drugs.
— Eight bottles of beer.
Police arrested three teens:
Trask A. Anderson, 19, and Ashley R. Bates, 18, who live at the apartment, and Jordan L. Valencia, 19, of Carroll, were arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Anderson was also arrested for an outstanding Dallas County warrant after he failed to appear in court for six felony forgery charges. Bates was cited for underage possession of alcohol.
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