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Washington v. Wright

as corrected.: May 6, 1991.


Grosse, C.j. Scholfield and Pekelis, JJ., concur.

Author: Grosse

Leonard C. Wright (Wright) appeals his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance. On direct appeal Wright challenges the trial court's determination that evidence seized in two separate searches of his home was admissible at trial. He argues that the first of two searches exceeded the scope of the warrant, resulting in tainted information and evidence forming the basis for the second warrant, thus requiring the results of the second warrant to be suppressed.

Additionally, Wright filed two personal restraint petitions. The first petition presents arguments virtually identical to those in the direct appeal; the second petition contends he was denied face-to-face confrontation with his accuser at trial on the charge of second degree rape, and further alleges that he was denied his right of access to the courts by being refused sufficient legal research materials. We affirm the convictions and dismiss the personal restraint petitions for the reasons set forth below.


Burlington police were dispatched to an unknown disturbance at Wright's residence. When police arrived they found Wright and a young man fighting in the front yard. The call to police had been made from a neighbor's house by either Wright's 15-year-old daughter, K., or by neighbors. The police were told that Wright arrived home around 9:30 p.m. to find K. and a girl friend, C., in K.'s bedroom. At some point K. left the room to put clothes in the dryer and Wright allegedly placed his hands under the covers of K.'s bed and onto C.'s body. After C.'s initial protests, it was claimed Wright digitally penetrated her vagina for a period of 2 to 3 minutes until K. returned to the room.

Wright returned to his bedroom. At this point there was a knock on the front door of the house. A young man, R. (allegedly C.'s boyfriend), was at the door when K. answered the knock. While K. answered the door, C. came out of K.'s room as far as the hallway. Wright entered the hallway from his bedroom and handed C. a red and white vibrator. Wright then ordered K. away from the door and proceeded to get into a fight with the young man, ending up in the front yard. C. gave the vibrator to K., who threw it on her father's bed, as K. and C. left the house. Police were then summoned.

Officers arrested Wright and sought a search warrant. The warrant was issued for the police to search and seize the red and white vibrator and to "photograph crime scene". Sergeant Hanson executed the warrant around 3 a.m. He entered the residence by using a key in the door and proceeded to K.'s bedroom. Next, he entered Wright's bedroom and saw the vibrator on the bed, where he was told he would find it. As Sergeant Hanson approached the bed and the vibrator, he saw a clear glass jar in the doorway of the closet. In the jar was a brownish-green vegetable matter which he believed to be marijuana. He proceeded to photograph the vibrator on the bed and the jar of marijuana in the closet doorway. He took additional pictures of the scene from different angles in the room. While taking pictures from a corner of the room, Sergeant Hanson looked down into an open "doctor's-type bag" and saw another case inside the bag. The second case was closed but from its size and shape the officer thought it was a handgun case. He picked up the closed smaller case and opened it to find a gun.*fn1

After determining that under Wright's prior sentence and probation he was not to possess firearms, and after

talking to K. about her father's guns, Detective Heenan obtained and executed a second search warrant based on the fact that Sergeant Hanson had seen the gun during the first search.*fn2 Detective Heenan searched the entire bedroom and found no guns.*fn3 However, he did find additional marijuana in the so-called doctor's bag and in the dresser. The additional marijuana, combined with that found in the jar, added up to a weight of just over 40 grams.*fn4

Wright was charged with the offenses of second degree rape and unlawful possession of a short firearm.*fn5 After the acquittal on the rape charge, an additional information was filed adding the charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Trial commenced on these remaining charges and the jury returned a verdict of guilty on each count. Wright was sentenced to concurrent terms within the standard range. This appeal followed.

Direct Appeal

Affidavit and Search ...

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