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Warrants – Probable Cause

State v. James E. Multaler, 2002 WI 35, affirming 2001 WI App 14, 246 Wis. 2d 752, 632 N.W.2d 89
For Multaler: Jeffrey W. Jensen

Issue/Holding: The affidavit in support of search warrant established probable cause to believe that Multaler was guilty of homicide, ¶¶13-28: he was tied directly and circumstantially to the victims; his actions were consistent with those of a serial killer (he kept an album of photos ans newspaper articles of missing and murdered females; he evinced “unusual interest” in their cases).

¶31. Because the affidavit established particular instances in which Multaler exhibited characteristic patterns of behavior typical of a serial homicide offender, it was reasonable for the warrant judge to infer that Multaler would exhibit other characteristics that Investigator Hanrahan indicated were associated with serial homicide offenders. Thus, the judge could reasonably infer that Multaler had taken the missing personal items from the victims and would retain these items.

And, because Multaler had lived in the same house for more than 20 years, it was reasonable to assume that those items would be found in that house. ¶33. (Court stresses, though, “that every probable cause determination must be made on a case-by-case basis,” that this is an “unusual” case, and that the mere fact that someone is suspected of being a serial killer doesn’t confer probable cause to search that person’s home. ¶34.)

Similar result, re: possession of child pornography, U.S. v. Newsom, 7th Cir No. 03-3366, 4/1/05 (“Information a year old is not necessarily stale as a matter of law, especially where child pornography is concerned,” given showing that collectors / distributors rarely if ever dispose of such material).

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