Illegal Search Results In Overturned Convictions PIERRE (AP) — An imprisoned Hartford man's drug convictions were overturned Thursday by the state Supreme Court because unlawful evidence was obtained when police snooped around his home before getting a search warrant.
William James Boll, 43, was put in prison Aug. 27, 2001, after a jury found him guilty on two counts related to a methamphetamine lab found in a chicken coop on his property. He received a 25-year sentence for making meth and a concurrent 10-year term for possession of the drug, but 15 years of his sentence were conditionally suspended.
Boll was arrested after authorities received an anonymous letter from Wyoming that indicated there was a drug lab in his basement. When officers knocked on his door and no one answered, they began to snoop around and found the drug lab on Dec. 14, 2000.
Realizing that the search was illegal, police left. On Dec. 19, officers returned to talk with Boll, but he was not there. Police again looked around and found drug-making evidence in barrels used to burn trash.
A search warrant was obtained, and Boll was arrested.
Boll argued that evidence seized at his home could not be used against him because it was illegally obtained, but Circuit Judge Peter Lieberman ruled against him.
Although the judge said the first search was illegal, he decided that a search warrant was properly issued after the second search because police inevitably would have gone back to Boll's home to follow up on the anonymous letter.
Overturning Lieberman, the Supreme Court said officers exploited information in the initial search to return without a warrant for a second search.
??The police decision to return on Dec. 19, which ultimately led to the search warrant, was prompted in part by the illegal search,'' wrote Justice Steven L. Zinter.
Police knew the first search was illegal but still used information from that search, along with information from the Dec. 19 search, to request a warrant, the justice said.
??Although the officers' visit on the 14th may not have been the exclusive reason for their return, the illegal search remained at least in part a reason for the Dec. 19 return,'' Zinter continued.