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State v. Steiger

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department A

November 23, 1982

STATE of Arizona, Appellee,
v.
Gail Gardner STEIGER, Lewis Steiger and Delia Rebecca Steiger, Appellants.

Page 809

[134 Ariz. 269] Robert K. Corbin, Atty. Gen. by William J. Schafer III, Chief Counsel, Crim. Div., Gerald R. Grant, Asst. Attys. Gen., Phoenix, for appellee.

Toci, Murphy & Beck by Richard A. Stewart, Prescott, for appellants.

OPINION

CORCORAN, Acting Presiding Judge.

The sole issue presented by this appeal is whether appellants had a legitimate expectation of privacy in an area of a ranch leased by their father so as to entitle them to the Fourth Amendment protection of the United States Constitution from unreasonable searches and seizures. The state conceded in the trial court that the arresting officers had no probable cause to search the ranch and the question of probable cause to search is thus not before this court.

Following the trial court's denial of appellants' motion to suppress, the appellants submitted the question of their guilt or innocence to the trial court, sitting without a jury, based on the grand jury transcript, police reports, statements made by appellants to a Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer, and the transcript of testimony at the hearing on the motion to suppress. The trial court returned verdicts of guilty as to all appellants of possession of marijuana[134 Ariz. 270]

Page 810

for sale, in violation of A.R.S. §§ 36-1002.06, 13-701, 13-702, and 13-801. Appellants filed a motion for new trial, asserting as their sole claim of error that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress. The trial court denied the motion for new trial.

The trial court suspended imposition of sentence as to appellant Delia Steiger for a period of two years, and she was placed on probation, with the condition that she perform sixty hours community service work under the direction of the probation officer. The trial court suspended imposition of sentence as to her brothers, Gail Steiger and Lewis Steiger, but for a period of four years, and they were placed on probation with the condition that they each serve nine months in the Yavapai County Jail. Appellants Lewis and Gail Steiger were released on their own recognizance pending determination of this appeal. Appellants timely filed notices of appeal.

The evidence submitted to the trial judge on stipulation, viewed in a light most favorable to sustaining the trial court's ruling on the motion to suppress and resolving all reasonable inferences in favor of the state, State v. Acree, 121 Ariz. 94, 588 P.2d 836 (1978), reveals that on Saturday, August 30, 1980, DPS Agent, Wayne A. Wright, and Yavapai County Sheriff Deputy Phil Quigley, seized approximately 800 pounds of marijuana from the Winter Camp area of the Matli Ranch located approximately 22 miles outside of Prescott. The officers arrested the Steigers at the same time.

The marijuana cache was discovered by Edward Webb, a visitor from Michigan, who owned 40 acres of land in the Williamson Valley area in close proximity to the Matli Ranch. Mr. Webb camped on his property in the summer and intended to build a house on it to retire. He was walking in the area a few days before the search to determine the availability of water. Mr. Webb entered a corral and barn area, which was later determined to be the Winter Camp at the Matli Ranch, and observed a large amount of what he believed to be marijuana in the barn hanging from horizontal string lines. He did not know who owned the property.

Mr. Webb contacted his realtor who in turn contacted the authorities. The realtor took Agent Wright and Deputy Quigley to Mr. Webb's camp. Mr. Webb told the officers he believed the barn contained marijuana but the only contact he had with marijuana was seeing it on television or a picture in a magazine. Friends had previously told him it looked like ragweed. Based on his experience, Agent Wright knew that marijuana did not look like ragweed. Mr. Webb took the officers to a fenceline from which only the roof of the barn could be observed. The fenceline was about a quarter to a third of a mile from the barn at what was later determined to be the Winter Camp. The officers discussed obtaining a search warrant, but concluded that they did not have probable cause to obtain a warrant. Therefore they decided to move closer to the barn in order to observe the area. When the officers crossed the fenceline, they did not know who owned the property or who might be on it.

The officers walked through the fence, and as they approached they did not hear any noises in the area of the barn, nor did they see any persons or detect any unusual odors. The windows of the barn were covered with burlap so that the officers could not see inside. There was a fence enclosing the corral area and the barn, and Agent Wright opened the gate to the fence and he and Deputy Quigley walked through. As they approached the barn, they observed a dog, and they saw appellant Gail Steiger who asked what they were doing there. Agent Wright walked around the corner of the barn, looked through an open doorway to the barn and observed marijuana hanging inside the barn. As he stepped into the doorway of the barn he saw appellants Lewis and Delia Steiger processing the marijuana.

The marijuana in the barn was seized by the officers, and, with the assistance of the appellants, loaded for transport to Prescott. Deputy Quigley ...


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