A Michigan man faced trouble with the law after a thwarted home invasion led to the police searching his home. But on Thursday a judge ruled that the police unlawfully searched the home and may have trampled on the 4th amendment of the constitution.
The origins of this story go back to February of last year. Jason Terrill, 31, was at home with his fiancee and 4 children when a masked intruder broke into their house. The intruder had a gun and ended up in a struggle with Terrill. During the struggle the intruder shot himself with his own gun, and the fiancee who owned 3 guns of her own shot the masked man in the hand.
The intruder was bleeding severely when Terrill handcuffed him to the doorway and called 911. When the police showed up they ended up searching the house. That’s when they came across a basement door that had a padlock on it.
According to Lansingstatejournal here is what happened next:
Sgt. Jeff Weiss testified that he asked Terrill to open it, but Terrill refused. Weiss went to his patrol vehicle, retrieved a bolt-cutter and cut the padlock. He said he was looking for other possible victims or suspects. Authorities had not yet obtained a search warrant.
In the basement were dozens of marijuana plants. Terrill was a licensed medical marijuana caregiver for three patients and also a patient, according to his attorney, Jamie White.
Still, he was charged with having more plants than the law allows as well as illegally possessing three guns that were kept in the basement. The guns, White said, were legally registered to Terrill’s fiancée.
The prosecution in the case tried to explain that the police did not need a warrant because they had to search the house to make sure there were no other victims. But even the judge saw this was pure malarkey.
[The judge] noted that there were no bloody fingerprints on or near the basement door, no cries for help and no indication anyone was in the basement. Terrill was taken to the door and asked to open it himself, she said, which would indicate officers were not concerned about danger. And once Weiss cut the lock and searched the basement, there was no testimony he conducted a thorough search.
“There really wasn’t a hunt for (anyone),” she said. “There was a satisfaction of, ‘I found marijuana.’ That’s where I draw the line.”
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