State v. Mitchell, ___ N.C. App. ___, 822 S.E.2d 51 (Nov. 6, 2018)

Because officers had permission from an occupant to enter a home where incriminating evidence was discovered, the subsequent search of the home was valid. Officers responded to a report of domestic violence at a home the defendant shared with his girlfriend Kristy Fink. A 911 call had reported the domestic violence incident and asserted that Fink suspected the defendant of being involved in an armed robbery of a Game Stop store a few days earlier. Officers knocked at the front door and the defendant and Fink answered and exited the home together. Pursuant to Police Department policy of separating parties on domestic calls, the officers separated the two for questioning. Officer Saine remained outside with the defendant, while Officer Francisco entered the home with Fink after being authorized by her to do so. Fink confirmed that the defendant assaulted her and corroborated the 911 caller’s information, telling Francisco that the incident began when she confronted the defendant about the robbery. Fink then led Francisco to a bedroom she shared with the defendant and showed him potentially incriminating evidence she had found prior to the incident. This included money and clothing matching the description of the robbery suspect’s clothing. When Saine entered the home at the defendant’s request for warmer clothing, Fink repeated to Saine what she had told Francisco. Officers got a search warrant and searched the home. The defendant was charged with armed robbery of the Game Stop store. The defendant unsuccessfully filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained from the search. The defendant was convicted and appealed.

            On appeal the defendant argued that because the officer’s initial entry into the home was illegal, the fruits of the subsequent search should have been suppressed. The court disagreed. Here, the defendant never objected to the officer’s entry into his home. Thus, the matter was not controlled by Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006), in which one spouse consented to the search and the other refused to give consent. The court further rejected the defendant’s argument that the officer’s entry into the home to investigate the allegations of domestic violence was mere subterfuge to investigate the robbery.