Hello and thank you for your question. I apologize that I could not answer earlier as I was away most of the day. Thank you for your patience. One issue in the fact pattern you set forth is that of the open fields vs. curtilage. Under the 4th Amendment the curtilage of the home, which is essentially the area immediately surrounding the home, is protected, but open fields ie. areas beyond the curtilage though still on private property is not. Two caveats 1. this is under federal law and state law may differ and provide more protection. 2. what constitutes curtilage and what is open fields is not always straightforward. For this issue you may want to look at Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170 (1984) and United States v. Dunn, 480 U.S. 294 (1987). These case can be found at Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com/ Insert the citation in the search box and the cases should come up.Another case you may want to look at is McClintock v. Texas. This is a recent Texas case which discusses Oliver and also states that police may not walk into the curtilage with the purpose of conducting a search without a warrant (or exception) That case may be found here http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=4122499604375664838&q=Oliver+open+fields&hl=en&as_sdt=4,44&as_ylo=2009 Take a look at those and let me know if you need something more. So much of case law depends on the specific facts and especially with the determination of curtilage v. open fields. A search with a warrant can never justify a prior search conducted without a warrant. In fact, if information from a prior illegal search is relied upon for probable cause to obtain the warrant, that may be sufficient to invalidate the warrant. See Valtierra v. State, 293 S.W.3d 697 (Tex. 2009)(subsequent warrant lacked probable cause because based on warrantless entry). Also, as you noted, exigency could not justify the warrantless searches where the sheriff could have obtained a warrant. Even if it justified the first entry, it could not justify subsequent entries over the course of the next two days before the sheriff applied for a warrant. See Turrubiate v. State, 365 S.W.3d 780 (Tex. 2012) and Turrubiate v. State (appeal) http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7940588741177580801&q=turrubiate&hl=en&as_sdt=4,44&as_ylo=2009 These cases set forth the standard for exigent circumstances. Also, Guterrez v. State, 221 S.W.3d 680 (Tex. 2007).
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