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State v. Kurland

Decided: September 3, 1974.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ETHAN KURLAND, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Collester, Lynch and Michels.

Per Curiam

By leave granted, the State appeals from an order suppressing evidence seized by the police pursuant to a search warrant.

On March 20, 1973 the American National Bank & Trust Company in Phillipsburg was held up by a man armed with a revolver wearing a ski mask and an army field jacket. He escaped with $8,819 in a blue and white Dodge automobile.

The search warrant was issued on March 23, 1973 by the judge of the Phillipsburg Municipal Court. The warrant authorized the search of defendant's home at 37 Colby Street

and his Dodge automobile. The warrant was executed on the same day and police seized among other things, an army fatigue jacket and defendant's passbooks in New York banks showing deposits made of $6,137 on March 20, 1973 and $1,000 on March 21, 1973. They also seized his blue and white Dodge automobile bearing Wisconsin registration plates.

Defendant was indicted for armed robbery, two counts for assault with an offensive weapon and one count for unlawful possession of a revolver. He pleaded not guilty to the indictment and thereafter moved to suppress the evidence seized by the police. The court held that the affidavit upon which the search warrant issued was legally insufficient and granted the motion to suppress. This appeal followed.

The affidavit was made by Detective Sergeant Charles S. Erdie who alleged he had probable cause to believe that in defendant's residence and automobile there would be found, among other things, clothing worn by the suspect in the bank robbery, a revolver and money obtained during the robbery. The affidavit, in pertinent part, states:

3. That the facts tending to establish the ground for this application and the probable cause of my belief as aforesaid, are as follows:

On March 20, 1973 at approximately 11:27 A.M. a lone white male described as being approximately 5'7" tall, 140 to 150 lbs., dark hair and wearing army field jacket and ski mask held-up the American National Bank of Phillipsburg, New Jersey main branch located at So. Main and Market St.'s at which time he was armed with a snub-nosed black revolver and was carrying a shopping bag marked Lord & Taylor, bag was green in color with black lettering. Witness to robbery observed suspect to leave area in an automobile described at time of robbery as a Dodge with white top and blue bottom, possibly four door with dirt covered rear license plate which obscured the description of the said plate at time. Taken during robbery was monies in amount of $8,819.00 which included $2,000.00 in recorded $20.00 bills kept as bait money in tellers drawers.

Initial investigation indicated that suspect familiar with the town of Phillipsburg in that he caused a report to be made minutes before the robbery that three bombs were planted in three different schools within the town of Phillipsburg and further the caller mentioned the town Manager by name and requested "Mr. Curtis" and "three uniformed officers to meet him at the Hillcrest Shopping Center" situated

on opposite side of town from bank in question. Further investigation showed the suspect, Ethan Kurland had an account with the bank in question and believed familiar with said bank; also that on March 22, 1973 at approximately 10:30 P.M. an auto, described in this warrant as 1965 Dodge owned by Ethan Kurland, was located parked alongside the home of his parents at 37 Colby St. where he is known to be staying at this time and that observation of said auto shows that rear license plate was wiped clean to extent that numbers and letters on said plate were wiped free of road dirt while remainder of plate was dirty. It is to be noted that local newspaper carried story day of robbery that auto in question possibly bore N.J. Reg. but that plate was covered with dirt and illegible and also that auto was Dodge with white top and blue bottom; also that investigation revealed that on date of robbery, March 20, 1973 at approximately 9:15 A.M., suspect Ethan Kurland called Hertz Rental T/A Lennox Garage of 25th Street, Palmer Township, Penna. and requested to rent a car for couple of hours and that he needed same immediately and was informed they could not produce ...


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