[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
APPEAL from a judgment of the circuit court for Milwaukee County: ELLEN R. BROSTROM, Judge. Cir. Ct. No. 2011CF5774.
On behalf of the defendant-appellant, the cause was submitted on the briefs of Hannah Schieber Jurss, assistant state public defender of Milwaukee.
On behalf of the plaintiff-respondent, the cause was submitted on the brief of Brad D. Schimel, attorney general, and Donald V. Latorraca, assistant attorney general.
Before Curley, P.J., Kessler and Bradley, JJ. KESSLER, J. (concurring).
[365 Wis.2d 514] [¶1] David Jerome Gant appeals from a judgment entered on guilty pleas to ten counts of possession of child pornography, contrary to Wis. Stat. § 948.12(1m) (2009-10). Gant claims all the child pornography found on his computer should be suppressed because the police violated his Fourth Amendment rights by seizing his computer without probable cause and keeping it for ten months. We hold that the police had probable cause to seize Gant's computer following the unnatural, violent death of his wife, and even if the seizure became unlawful because of its duration, suppression of the evidence of child pornography is not the proper remedy because the police found the evidence after getting a search warrant based on independent sources and the search was sufficiently attenuated from any unlawful retention of the computer. We affirm.
[365 Wis.2d 515]BACKGROUND
[¶2] On September 28, 2010, Gant called police to his home at 4831 North 26th Street for a sudden death investigation of his wife, Crystal, whom he found hanging by the neck from a cable suspended from a beam in their basement. When police arrived, Gant had already moved his wife's body to a bed in the basement. Detective Matthew Goldberg, who investigated the scene, explained that police procedure is to handle an apparent suicide as a homicide. They do this by separating and interviewing witnesses, photographing the scene, and collecting evidence. Police Officer Barbara Court interviewed Gant's young daughter, who reported that her mother had been using a computer prior to her death, although the officer who seized the computers did not have that information at the time of seizure. Gant was also interviewed.
[¶3] The police collected evidence from the scene, including three computers. Goldberg said computers are collected especially in possible suicide cases because suicide notes are often found on them. The computers were placed on inventory in the Police Administration Building. After Gant's interview, he signed a consent to search his property, but refused to consent to a search of his computers.
[¶4] Within a day or two, the medical examiner ruled Crystal's death a suicide, but the investigation continued. A week or two later, Gant went to the Police Administration Building and asked for his computers back, but was told the police could not release the property yet. Gant claims he did the same thing again sometime in February 2011, but police told him he could not have any property back yet. [365 Wis.2d 516] Gant never took any formal legal steps available under Wis. Stat. § 968.20 to request the release of his property.
[¶5] On October 31, 2010, Gant was charged with exposing his genitals to a child for the purpose of sexual arousal. Police Officer Deborah Kranz was one of the officers investigating that case. Kranz was also the officer who spoke with Gant's brother, Jason Gant, in April 2011. Jason contacted the police to report Gant admitted he molested his own children and had child pornography on his computer. Kranz checked police reports ...