confessed, taking the police to the body. At this point, of course, the rest
of the search stopped.
The court did not apply the exclusionary rule (to
exclude the body), however, since it was inevitable that the body would have
been discovered anyway, regardless of the suspect's confession. Had the search
not been called off when the suspect confessed and took the police to the body,
the police would have simply continued with the search, using the same grid
system. They were, in fact, already approaching the area where the body was
found. The instructions to those participating in the search were to look in
all ditches, all culverts, all roads, all abandoned buildings, and "any other
place where a small child could be secreted." The body was found in a ditch
along that road.
Nix v. Williams, 467 US 431, 81 L.Ed.2d 377 104 SCt 2501
g. For the inevitable discovery exception to apply, the government must be
able to show "that the evidence at issue would inevitably have been discovered
by lawful means because of the information already in the government's
possession, or leads actively being pursued by the government."
Carruba, 19 MJ 896 (ACMR, 1985). The Carruba case involved a rather bizarre
set of facts.
The accused walked into the MP station and requested that
someone take him to retrieve his car, which was parked off-post. The accused
explained that he had been stopped off-post by the civilian police for driving
under the influence of alcohol.
He was apparently still intoxicated.
military police officers agreed to take him to his car. During the ride to the
car, the accused mentioned that he had a sawed-off shotgun and some marijuana
in the car. One of the MP drove the accused's car back on-post, accompanied by
the accused. When they got back to the MP station, the accused took a plastic
bag of marijuana out of the glove compartment. The MP told him to put the bag
away. The accused then went to the trunk and tried to open it. The MP opened
the trunk for the accused, at which time the accused put the plastic bag into a
back-pack. The accused then unfolded a towel in the trunk to reveal a sawed-
off shotgun. He refolded the towel and shut the trunk. The accused was then
apprehended and MPI was called. The MPI agent was told that the accused had
said that he had "dope and a sawed-off shotgun" in the car. The accused at
first would not consent to a search of the car, and told the MPI agent to go
"get a search warrant."
h. The MPI agent went to get the authorization for the search of the car.
As he was leaving, the accused changed his mind and consented to the search.
When this happened, the MPI agent was called back before he had time to go and
get the search authorization.
On appeal, the court held that the accused's
consent was invalid, due to his having been intoxicated. The evidence was still
admissible, however, since the MPI agent "had sufficient probable cause to
obtain a search authorization, and was actively pursuing evidence that would
have inevitably led to the discovery of the evidence." He was on his way to
get the search authorization when the accused consented.
consent "did no more than hasten the inevitable discovery of the contraband."
Had the accused not consented, the MPI agent would have simply obtained the
search authorization and invertably and lawfully discovered the evidence.