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The People v. James Henry Thomas

July 11, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMES HENRY THOMAS, JR., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 08F05472)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz , J.

P. v. Thomas

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Following the denial of his motion to suppress evidence (Pen. Code, § 1538.5),*fn1 defendant James Henry Thomas, Jr., pleaded no contest to possession of cocaine base for sale (Health & Saf. Code, § 11351.5). He also admitted one prior prison term (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (b)) and a previous conviction of a serious felony (id., §§ 667 subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12). Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate term of seven years in state prison.

On appeal, defendant contends that the officers acted unreasonably by searching his residence in the course of serving an arrest warrant on a third party, and that the search was invalid because the officers were unaware that his parole status included a parole search condition. For the reasons below, we reject these claims and shall affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On the morning of July 3, 2008, Sacramento police officers Dustin Smith and Sarah Butler arrived at an address on May Street to serve an arrest warrant on Ignocencio Lopez, Jr. Officer Butler watched the back of the house while Officer Smith approached the front door and knocked. Cornell Muldrow III and his wife answered the door and stated that Lopez did not reside there. As Muldrow explained that he and his wife were the only people in the residence, Butler saw a hand appear at the back window of the house, move the blinds, and withdraw. Butler notified Smith, who asked Muldrow whether he was certain there was nobody else inside. After a brief hesitation, Muldrow said he would double check.

At this point, defendant's brother, Michael Thomas (Michael), appeared in the kitchen and walked toward the front door. When Officer Smith asked if anyone else was home, Michael replied that his brother, defendant, was in the bedroom. Smith inquired if defendant was on parole and Michael responded that he was. Smith then asked Michael to check whether defendant was in his bedroom. Michael walked to the bedroom, knocked on the door, and defendant emerged.

In response to questioning, defendant denied that he knew Lopez, but admitted that he was on parole. Defendant provided the officers with his parole identification card, and a records check confirmed that he was on active parole. Officer Smith then informed defendant that the officers were going to conduct a parole search of the home based on his parole status.

In searching defendant's bedroom, the officers recovered 6.11 grams of cocaine base packaged in plastic sandwich baggies and medication bottles from the top shelf of his closet, and found a wallet with $196 in cash and a cell phone on his person.

A second amended complaint, deemed the information, charged defendant with possession of cocaine base for sale and possession of cocaine base (counts one & two), with special allegations of a prior serious felony (§ 664/187, subd. (a)) and two prior prison terms.

Defendant pleaded not guilty and filed a motion to suppress all items recovered from his closet, arguing the parole search was invalid because the officers did not have advance knowledge that he was subject to a parole search condition. The trial court denied this motion. Defendant ...


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