S.D. justices uphold drug-case seizure

Capitol News Bureau

The South Dakota Supreme Court at the October 2020 session in Vermillion.

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A judge was wrong when he said key evidence couldn’t be used by the prosecution in a Lawrence County controlled-substance case, according to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

In a decision publicly released this week, the justices overruled Circuit Judge Eric Strawn. They said Deadwood police had reasonable cause to present an affidavit to a magistrate judge seeking a warrant to search an apartment and a vehicle where illegal drugs were suspected present. The warrant also let police collect urine samples.

The subsequent search of the apartment produced several bags containing a white crystal substance, which was later confirmed to be methamphetamine, according to the Supreme Court’s decision, and the urine samples taken from Carrie Lynn Ostby and Dana Olmsted both tested positive for meth.

Olmsted was charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance. Ostby was charged with unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

The defendants later challenged the validity of the warrant. Circuit Judge Strawn granted their motion to suppress the evidence. The justices said the judge used the wrong standard.

In the high court’s decision, Justice Steven Jensen said police had acted on information from an informant who found in a clothes dryer in the apartment building a bag of a substance that proved to be methamphetamine. She had previously reported finding in a hallway of the building a bag of what proved to be methamphetamine.

Justice Jensen said police also had independent information from a drug investigator who was working an investigation of the same apartment that Ostby rented.

“The affidavit, and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, provided the reviewing magistrate with a sufficient basis to conclude that the information was reliable, and that there was a ‘fair
probability’ that contraband would be found in Apartment 15,” the justice wrote.

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