Appeal from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County (POWERS, J.).
The cause was argued before Brune, C.J., and Hammond, Horney, Marbury and Sybert, JJ.
HORNEY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
The principal question presented by this appeal is whether a search incident to one offense justified the seizure of items connected with another offense.
About 10:30 in the morning of February 27, 1962, the defendant (Alfonso Arkell Brooks, Jr.) went to the home of Margaret Griffith in Upper Marlboro, asked her where someone lived and told her he was interested in buying race horses. At that time she observed that the automobile of the defendant was of a dark color. Later (about 11:00 o'clock), when she went to her kitchen to prepare dinner, she noticed a similar dark colored automobile at the home of a neighbor. When Allen N. Curtin (the neighbor) came home from work later in the day, he found that a screen had been removed from one of the windows and upon entering the house he discovered that his television was missing and that some packaged hogmeat labeled with his surname had been taken from the freezer.
A week or so prior to the arrest of the defendant, the Prince George's County police sent a circular to the District of Columbia police stating that the owner or operator of a 1950 Chrysler, with D.C. tags numbered MT628, was wanted in connection with a series of housebreakings. The district police checked the license number and learned that it had been issued for a Buick automobile registered in the name of the defendant whose address was given as 615 Gallatin Street, Washington, D.C.
The defendant was arrested on the night of March 8, 1962. In the morning of the next day, the police, under a warrant to search the premises at 615 Gallatin Street, recovered thirteen packages of hogmeat labeled "Curtin" from a freezer in the basement of the house where the defendant resided with Mary Pace. Subsequently the defendant was indicated for statutory burglary, grand larceny and receiving stolen goods.
At the trial, besides the testimony of the owner of the stolen hogmeat and the witness who had twice seen a dark colored automobile on the day of the theft, the State introduced the testimony of a number of police officers who testified as to the arrest of the defendant and the search of the premises from which the hogmeat was recovered. On the theory that it had been illegally seized, the defendant objected to the admission of the testimony relating to the recovery of the hogmeat, but the objection was overruled. At the close of the case, the defendant moved to strike the evidence admitted over his objection, but the motion was denied. The lower court, sitting without a jury, found the defendant guilty on the first and second counts of the indictment and sentenced him to eight years in prison.
The circumstances leading to the arrest of the defendant and the search for and seizure of the hogmeat on the premises in which he resided are:
At approximately 9:00 o'clock in the evening of March 8, 1962, while an officer of the district police accompanied by a deputy sheriff of the county were patrolling the area of Gallatin Street, they saw a Chrysler automobile, with D.C. tags MT628, parked at the curb. The automobile was locked but with the aid of a flashlight the deputy sheriff could see pieces of merchandise covered with a blanket lying in the back of the automobile from which the rear seat had been removed.
A call was made for another police car and for police detectives. When the car arrived, all of the police officers sat in it awaiting developments. Shortly before the arrival of the detectives, the officer on patrol duty, who knew the defendant, saw him pass by, glance at the police car, and continue on. A short time after the detectives arrived, the defendant passed by again. One of the detectives suggested to the officer on patrol duty that he call out "Brooks, come here."
When the defendant approached the police car, he was asked if the Chrysler was his and he replied "yes." When he was asked for his registration card, he stated that it was in the glove compartment and promptly unlocked the automobile and got the card. When the deputy sheriff examined the card, he asked why Buick tags were on the Chrysler ...