This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).






State of Minnesota,





Michael James Dahlin,



Filed December 26, 2001


Hanson, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 01004420


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for appellant)


Leonardo Castro, Fourth District Public Defender, David Murrin, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Hanson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


On appeal from a pretrial order that suppressed bloodstained clothes seized in execution of a search warrant at respondent’s home, appellant state argues that the district court erred by suppressing all fruits of the search because there was probable cause to search for the bloodstained clothes.  We reverse.


When the victim opened the door to his house, he was shot at close range and later died.  The police suspected that respondent Michael James Dahlin killed the victim.  During their investigation, the police obtained and executed two search warrants for Dahlin’s house.

Dahlin’s fiancée, Sara Troska, who lived with Dahlin, told the police that Dahlin had accused Troska and the victim of having an affair.  She also said that Dahlin had a shotgun in their garage six months earlier.  Dahlin, a convicted felon, was prohibited from using or possessing firearms.  The Wright County District Court issued a warrant that allowed the police to search Dahlin’s truck and home for firearms and ammunition.  While executing this first warrant, the police saw a pile of clothes in Dahlin’s house. 

The police continued to interview Troska.  Troska said that Dahlin (1) owned another shotgun different from the one she described earlier, (2) not only threatened to kill her with a handgun, but also threatened to kill the victim, (3) was very agitated on the night the victim was killed, and (4) left the house with his shotgun and handgun that same night.  The victim was killed during the time in which Troska said Dahlin was gone from the home.  Troska also said that Dahlin disposed of the guns and that she had not washed any clothes since the night before the shooting.

The police applied for a second search warrant to search Dahlin’s home and car for evidence, including bloodstained clothing.  The officer’s affidavit in support of the warrant stated:

[1] The affiant is a Deputy Sheriff with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office and has been a Licensed peace officer in the State of Minnesota since Nov. 1983.  The affiant has received extensive training and experience in the investigation of crimes.


[2] The affiant on Nov. 18, 2000, was requested to assist the Minnetonka Police Department with the investigation of a homicide which occurred in the city of Minnetonka on the 121600 at 2251 hrs. at the address of 5439 Hwy 101 Minnetonka, MN.  The victim is Dustin Jirasek.  Jirasek was shot at his residence with a shotgun.  Minnetonka PD was able to develop a suspect in Michael Dahlin.  Dahlin lives in the city of Waverly in Wright County.  Dahlin suspected that Jirasek had been romantically involved with Sara Troska, Dahlin’s Fiancee.  Troska lives with Dahlin in Waverly.  Troska was threatened repeatedly with a firearm held by Dahlin on Friday Dec. 15th and 16th at this time Dahlin also threatened to kill Jirasek.  Dahlin does have criminal history which includes felony arrests for assault.


[3] Deputies and Officers did execute a search warrant at the Dahlin residence in the City of Waverly for a shotgun and handgun that Dahlin reportedly had in his possession on Dec. 15th and 16th.  During that warrant service clothes were noticed piled in the residence.  Troska was asked and stated that clothes had not been washed since Friday.  The affiant knows that blood splatter will remain on clothes until cleaned.


[4] Information from the Minnetonka Police Department indicates that the day of the homicide Dahlin left his residence at between 1600 and 1800 hrs. en route to a friends’ residence in North East Minneapolis this friend may be an accomplice.  Dahlin was driving his green GMC Z-71 pickup.  The vehicle was recently purchased and does not have a MN license plate assigned to it.  Dahlin returned home at or shortly after midnight.  The affiant believes that phone conversations and or e-mail messages may have been placed to the accomplice in Minneapolis as a means of communication concerning meeting or the crime.  The affiant hopes to find evidence of these conversations or calls having been made by searching for computer stored information or notes and ledgers or phone bills.


[5] Dahlin was arrested based on probable cause and booked at the Wright County Jail for the crime of Homicide on 12-18-2000 an inventory of Dahlin’s clothes was done in the jail and the affiant noted a stain on the right sleeve of Dahlin’s jacket that appeared to be blood.  There was also noted on one of Dahlin’s boots a stain that appeared to be blood.  The affiant is aware that the homicide took place at point-blank range and that blood splatter is common and would possibly exist on other clothes found at the residence in Waverly.


The Wright County District Court issued the second warrant.


While executing the second warrant, the police found bloodstained clothes.  The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) determined that the DNA profile of the blood found on the clothing matched the DNA profile of the victim’s blood.

Dahlin was indicted in Hennepin County on the charge of first-degree murder.  He moved to suppress the evidence obtained during the execution of both search warrants.  The district court denied the motion as to the first search but granted the motion as to the second search.  The court stated that the police affidavit in support of the second warrant did not clearly identify the source of some of the information and therefore suppressed all evidence seized pursuant to the warrant, including the bloodstained clothes.  This appeal followed.





As a preliminary issue, on an appeal from a pretrial suppression order, the state


“must ‘clearly and unequivocally’ show both that the [district] court’s order will have a ‘critical impact’ on the state’s ability to prosecute the defendant successfully and that the order constituted error.”


State v. Scott, 584 N.W.2d 412, 416 (Minn. 1998) (quoting State v. Zanter, 535 N.W.2d 624, 630 (Minn. 1995)).  The district court found that the suppression of the bloodstained clothes would have a critical impact on the state’s case.  We agree.

Critical impact has been shown not only in those cases where the lack of the suppressed evidence completely destroys the state’s case, but also in those cases where the lack of the suppressed evidence significantly reduces the likelihood of a successful prosecution.


State v. Kim, 398 N.W.2d 544, 551 (Minn. 1987).  To fully appreciate the impact of the suppression, we consider the state’s evidence as a whole.  Scott, 584 N.W.2d at 416.

Dahlin argues that suppressing the bloodstained clothes will not critically impact the state’s ability to prosecute the case because they “are merely circumstantial evidence” and the state has other direct evidence of the crime.  It is true that the state has evidence that Dahlin was upset with and threatened to kill the victim, and that Dahlin’s shotgun shells matched those found at the murder scene.  But this evidence is likewise circumstantial.  Moreover, the match between the DNA profile of the blood on Dahlin’s clothing with the DNA profile of the victim’s blood is much more unique than a match of shotgun shell characteristics.  Thus, the bloodstained clothing is more probative of Dahlin’s presence at the murder scene than the other available evidence.  Without the DNA evidence, the likelihood of a successful prosecution would be significantly reduced.  Thus, the district court correctly concluded that the suppression of the evidence would have a critical impact on the state’s ability to prosecute the case.



Because suppression of the bloodstained clothes will have a critical impact on the state’s ability to prosecute Dahlin, we next address the question of whether the district court erred by concluding that the second search warrant lacked probable cause.  When this court reviews a probable-cause determination in a pretrial-suppression order, we give great deference to the court that issued the warrant, in this case the district court in Wright County.  State v. Rochefort, 631 N.W.2d 802, 804 (Minn. 2001).  This deference recognizes that affidavits supporting warrant applications are typically drafted by non-lawyers during the exigency of a criminal investigation and that some leeway is appropriate to provide an incentive for police to conduct searches pursuant to a warrant.  State v. Harris, 589 N.W.2d 782, 791 (Minn. 1999).

Given such deference, the focus of our review is whether the issuing court had a substantial basis to conclude that probable cause existed.  Harris, 589 N.W.2d at 787-88.  “Substantial basis” in this context means a “fair probability * * * that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.”  Zanter, 535 N.W.2d at 633 (quoting Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 2332 (1983)).

The district court found that it was unclear who provided the information in the second paragraph, which states that Dahlin suspected Troska was romantically involved with the victim and that Dahlin repeatedly threatened Troska with a firearm, and in the fourth paragraph, which describes Dahlin’s movements on the night of the murder.

            The state argues that the district court issuing the warrant (Wright County) could reasonably infer that Troska was the source of the information in paragraphs 2 and 4 because she is specifically mentioned in paragraph 3 and is the logical source for the other information.  We need not decide this argument, however, because we are satisfied that even if paragraphs 2 and 4 did not contribute to probable cause, the remaining paragraphs, standing alone, supply probable cause to search for the clothes. 

The third and fifth paragraphs provided the issuing court with a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause existed to search for the clothing previously observed at respondent’s home.  The third paragraph is based on the personal knowledge of the affiant police officer, who saw piles of clothing when he executed the first warrant, and information provided by Troska, who told the officers that she had not washed the clothing.  In the fifth paragraph, it is evident that the booking police officer, who was inventorying Dahlin’s belongings, noticed a stain that appeared to be blood on the right sleeve of Dahlin’s jacket and on one of Dahlin’s boots.  The last sentence of the affidavit establishes that the affiant knew that the victim was shot at point-blank range and that blood “splatter” is common in such a shooting, providing a basis to believe that blood stains may be present on the assailant’s clothing.  This information established a fair probability that evidence of a crime would be found on Dahlin’s unwashed clothing. 

The state makes the alternative argument that the bloodstained clothes should be admissible on the basis of a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule.  Neither this court nor the supreme court has adopted this exception.  See, e.g., Harris, 589 N.W.2d at 791 n.1 (stating that because the search warrant was supported by probable cause, it need not address the good-faith exception to the warrant requirement); State v. Kahn, 555 N.W.2d 15, 20 (Minn. App. 1996) (stating that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule did not apply where the officers’ conduct in obtaining the warrant was of a type the exclusionary rule was designed to prevent).  Because we have determined that the search warrant was supported by probable cause and we reverse the district court’s ruling with respect to the bloodstained clothes, we need not address this argument.