Dwayne Nichols is charged with the theft of a roto-tiller. The state appeals the grant of the defendant's motion to suppress the admission of the roto-tiller in evidence.
The owner testified that he inquired of persons living nearby whether they knew anything about a roto-tiller missing from his land. He learned that the defendant had expressed a desire for the roto-tiller and also that the defendant had been on his property two days before the roto-tiller was discovered missing. An officer from the sheriff's department, accompanied by the owner, proceeded to the defendant's mobile home to talk to him. The defendant was not there; however, the owner was able to identify a roto-tiller located on the defendant's property near the trailer as his own. The roto-tiller was seized and taken to the sheriff's office. Held:
The state concedes that the roto-tiller was within the curtilage of the defendant's home. "Prima facie, a search made within the curtilage of the owner without a warrant is unconstitutional and void. 'Curtilage' includes the yards and grounds of a particular address, its gardens, barns, buildings, etc." Norman v. State, 134 Ga. App. 767
, 768 (216 SE2d 644
) (1975). Generally, "[w]arrantless searches are improper absent exigent circumstances, at least when the investigating officers have intruded upon the curtilage for the purpose of conducting a search for criminal activity." United States v. Williams, 581 F2d 451, 453 (5th Cir. 1978).
Based on the evidence before the trial court, the motion to suppress should have been denied.