from the Superior Court in Pima County The Honorable Teresa
Godoy, Judge Pro Tempore No. CR20142935-001
Decision of the Court of Appeals, Division Two 2 CA-CR
2014-0408 Filed July 30, 2015
Barbara LaWall, Pima County Attorney, Nicolette Kneup
(argued), Deputy County Attorney, Tucson, Attorneys for State
R. Sonenberg, Pima County Public Defender, Michael J. Miller,
David J. Euchner (argued), Deputy Public Defenders, Tucson,
Attorneys for Robin Peoples
JUSTICE TIMMER authored the opinion of the Court, in which
CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER, and
JUSTICES BRUTINEL and BOLICK joined.
The issue in this case is whether an overnight guest who left
his cell phone in his host's apartment lost his
legitimate expectation of privacy in that phone, thereby
defeating his challenge to a warrantless search of the phone.
We hold that the defendant here did not lose his expectation
of privacy in his phone. And as an overnight guest, he had a
legitimate expectation of privacy in the apartment. Because
no exception to the warrant requirement existed, and the
good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule did not apply,
the trial court properly suppressed evidence of a video found
on the phone and of statements the defendant made to the
police about that video.
Robin Peoples lived next door to his girlfriend, D.C., at a
Tucson apartment complex. He frequently spent time at
D.C.'s studio apartment. About three months into the
relationship, Peoples spent the night at D.C.'s apartment
and used his cell phone to film the couple having sex.
D.C.'s daughter, who also lived at the complex, found
D.C. unresponsive in bed the next morning while Peoples was
in the bathroom. The daughter called 911, and Peoples ran
from the apartment to direct the paramedics, leaving his cell
phone behind. While paramedics were tending
to D.C, whom they ultimately pronounced dead, Peoples sought
solace at a friend's upstairs apartment. No one asked
Peoples to leave D.C.'s apartment.
Tucson Police Officer Travis Mott came to D.C.'s
apartment after she was pronounced dead. He looked for
information that might identify D.C.'s doctor, hoping the
doctor could shed light on D.C.'s recent health and sign
the death certificate. He found a "smart" cell
phone in the bathroom. Assuming the phone belonged to D.C,
the officer turned it on and opened it with a finger swipe to
search her contacts (it was not passcode protected). A paused
video-image of D.C. on her back in bed, mostly naked,
appeared on the screen. The officer pressed "play"
and watched part of a video of Peoples having sex with a
seemingly unresponsive D.C. Before he watched the video,
Officer Mott had been told that Peoples spent the night at
Peoples returned to D.C.'s apartment a short time after
leaving and asked a police officer at the door to retrieve
his cell phone from the bathroom. According to Peoples, that
officer entered the apartment and later returned, handcuffed
Peoples, and took him into Peoples' apartment. Officer
Mott testified he was never told about Peoples' request.
According to Officer Mott, after viewing the video, he
detained Peoples in his apartment, read him his
Miranda rights, and questioned him about the video.
Peoples confirmed that he had sex with D.C. during the early
morning hours and filmed it with his phone. Peoples also told
Officer Mott that D.C. "probably was [dead]" when
they had sex, although he "thought she was
breathing" and had heard "her snoring
earlier." Peoples later watched the video with other
officers and answered their questions.
The State charged Peoples with necrophilia and two counts of
sexual assault. Peoples moved to suppress evidence of the
video, contending that the warrantless search of the phone
was unlawful under the federal and state constitutions. After
an evidentiary hearing at which Officer Mott, Peoples, and a
detective testified, the trial court granted the motion. It
also suppressed Peoples' statements to police because
they resulted from the illegal search. The court of appeals
reversed, reasoning that the warrantless search was
permissible because Peoples did not have a reasonable
expectation of privacy in either D.C.'s apartment or his
cell phone and therefore could not challenge the searches.
State v. Peoples, 2 CA-CR 2014-0408, at *5-6
¶¶ 22, 27-28 (Ariz. App. July 30, 2015) (mem.
We granted review because the constitutional issues raised
are of statewide importance. We have jurisdiction pursuant to
article 6, section 5(3), of the Arizona Constitution and
A.R.S. § 12-120.24.