from a judgment of the circuit court for Waukesha County No.
2016CF1005, LEE S. DREYFUS, JR., Judge. Affirmed.
Neubauer, C.J., Reilly, P.J., and Gundrum, J.
Jeffrey Ionescu appeals from his judgment of conviction for
burglary, challenging the circuit court's denial of his
motion to suppress evidence. Specifically, he claims New
Berlin Police Officer James Ament, a K-9 officer, violated
his Fourth Amendment rights when Ament and his trained
tracking dog, Condor, entered onto the yard of Ionescu's
mother without a warrant while tracking a burglar, Ionescu.
Because we conclude Ament's entry was lawful as he was in
"hot pursuit" of Ionescu, we affirm.
Following Ament and Condor's tracking of a burglary
suspect through multiple yards, onto the property of
Ionescu's mother, and ultimately up to the door of a
motor home in which Ionescu stayed, Ionescu was arrested and
charged with multiple offenses. He brought a motion to
suppress evidence asserting that Ament and Condor could not
lawfully enter onto his mother's yard without a warrant.
An evidentiary hearing was held, at which the following
relevant evidence was presented.
Ament testified that shortly after 4 a.m. on June 6, 2016, he
was dispatched to a New Berlin home due to a report of a
burglary in progress. Ament was informed that the homeowner
had heard noises in his garage, investigated, and found an
individual inside of his vehicle. Upon Ament's arrival at
the home, the homeowner informed Ament that the burglary
suspect had fled, cutting west across the homeowner's
yard. Due to the dew on the ground, Ament "could see one
set of footprints heading where the homeowner said he saw the
suspect last run."
Ament and Condor began tracking the burglary suspect,
Condor takes me down the road and we lose that track on the
road because it is very difficult to track there. However, at
a point he does again locate a track that heads through a
series of backyards. During that time at various points I can
see one set of footprints in that dew based on the conditions
of the grass that are sometimes apparent and sometimes not.
Condor is filling in those gaps.
of footprints was consistent with those Ament observed
leaving the homeowner's residence, "seem[ed] to
follow a direct series," and was the only set Ament saw
in the area. Ament and Condor traversed approximately ten to
twelve backyards, losing the track one more time, but finding
it "and verify[ing] with footprints again." After
tracking for twenty to thirty minutes and approximately 2000
feet, Ament and Condor followed the track largely along the
property line between two properties, from the back of the
properties to the front. A motor home was parked in the front
of one of these properties. Coming up the property line to
"the edge of the motor home," Condor
"immediately [took] a hard left turn" and Ament
"c[ould] see those same footprints. The dog as well as
the footprints go directly to the … door of that motor
home." Condor "sat and stared at the door,"
which informed Ament that Condor had "finished his track
and he thinks that the person is in there."
An officer who was with Ament knocked on the door of the
motor home, but there was no answer. They then walked to the
front door of the house on the property and made contact with
Ionescu's mother, who indicated she owned the residence
and the motor home but that Ionescu "stayed" in the
motor home. She willingly opened the motor home for the
officers and gave them permission to enter. According to the
criminal complaint, the officers found Ionescu as well as a
watch that had been stolen from the homeowner's vehicle.
The circuit court found that the pursuit began "in very
close proximity" to when the burglary occurred.
As soon as the homeowner had contact with the individual that
took off, [he] called the police and they responded in short
order…. They see a track going the direction the
homeowner described as the individual took off in and they
began following it.... The officers were following what would
be a current track or believed to be a current track.
Ultimately, it led to the Ionescu property.
court denied the suppression motion, expressing that it was
"satisfied" the circumstances that "led up to
the contact and the search w[ere]
appropriate."Ionescu pled to the burglary ...