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United States v. Headbird

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 22, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
Christopher Harrison Headbird, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

LEO I. BRISBOIS, Magistrate Judge.

This matter came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge upon Defendant Christopher Harrison Headbird's ("Defendant") Motion to Suppress All Electronic Surveillance Evidence, [Docket No. 17], Motion to Suppress Search and Seizure Evidence, [Docket No. 18], and Motion to Suppress Statements of Defendant, [Docket No. 19]. This case has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 72.1. The Court held a motions hearing on December 8, 2014, regarding Defendant's pretrial motions.

For reasons discussed herein, the Court recommends that Defendant's Motion to Suppress All Electronic Surveillance Evidence, [Docket No. 17], Motion to Suppress Search and Seizure Evidence, [Docket No. 18], and Motion to Suppress Statements of Defendant, [Docket No. 19], be DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF FACTS

A. Background

Defendant is charged with one count of being an armed career criminal in possession of a firearm, in violation 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e). (Indictment, [Docket No. 8]).

B. Facts[1]

During the late evening hours of August 19, 2014, Officer Marlin Van Loon of the Leech Lake Police Department was notified by dispatch that N.C., Defendant's mother, had called to report being threatened by Defendant. Officer Van Loon was aware that, at that time, there was at least one outstanding warrant for Defendant's arrest.

Officer Van Loon called and spoke to N.C. During the conversation, N.C. told Officer Van Loon that Defendant was at her residence, had a gun, had threatened her, and had temporarily prevented her from leaving the residence. N.C. also told Officer Van Loon that she wanted Defendant out of her house and conveyed to Officer Van Loon that the police could use any means necessary to remove Defendant.

After the conversation, Officer Van Loon went to N.C. 's house. At some point other officers from the Leech Lake Police Department, the Cass County Sheriff's Department, and at least one other law enforcement agency arrived on the scene. Officer Van Loon then went to find N.C., who had by that time gone to a different nearby residence.

Once Officer Van Loon made contact with N.C., he asked her to sign a form indicating that she had given her consent for law enforcement officers to enter and search her residence. Officer Van Loon did not make any promises to N.C. in order to get her to sign the form, nor did he threaten or intimidate her. N.C. signed the form. During his encounter with N.C., Officer Van Loon noted that N.C. appeared shaken but otherwise coherent and intelligent. Officer Van Loon also noted that N.C. did not appear to be under the influence of any intoxicants. After N.C. signed the consent form, Officer Van Loon returned to the residence, which had by then been surrounded by law enforcement. Officer Van Loon does not recall when N.C. signed the form, but knows that he arrived back at the residence with the signed form before the officers ultimately entered the house during the early morning hours of August 20, 2014.

At some point, the law enforcement officers on the scene made contact with Defendant by using the cell phone of one of Defendant's acquaintances who had arrived on the scene. Sgt. Bryan Welk of the Cass County Sheriff's Department spoke to Defendant via the cell phone. Using a hand held digital audio recorder, Sgt. Welk was able to record some of the conversations he had with Defendant. During those conversations, Sgt. Welk learned that Defendant was still in the house, was armed, and was making threats regarding an at-that-time unidentified female who was with him in the house. Sgt. Welk conveyed this information to other officers on the scene.

The standoff continued past 3:30 a.m. on August 20, 2014. While the standoff continued, Cass County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Fisher applied for a warrant to enter and search the house. Deputy Fisher's affidavit in support of the application for the search warrant contained N.C. 's statements that Defendant was inside the residence, had struck N.C., and threatened her with a gun. (Govt.'s Ex. 2 at 3). The affidavit also indicated that Defendant, who had a previous felony conviction, was still inside the residence and was making threats against a female also still inside the residence. (Id.). Minnesota State District Court Judge David Harrington issued the search warrant during the early morning hours of August 20, 2014. Sometime thereafter, the officers entered the house. Defendant eventually surrendered and was arrested and taken into custody.

Upon being taken into custody, Defendant was booked and initially detained at the Cass County Detention Center. Defendant made and received calls while there that he now seeks to suppress. The Cass County Detention Center allows detainees to make phone calls by obtaining and using phone cards. On the face of the phone cards that the Center provides is a printed notice to detainees that their calls may be recorded. The Cass County Detention Center also informs detainees during the initial booking process that the calls of detainees may be recorded. Further, an automated audio message plays before each call a detainee makes from the Center that states that the call may be recorded.

Defendant was later moved to the Crow Wing Correctional Facility. Defendant also made and received phone calls while there that he now seeks to suppress. Detainees at the Crow Wing Correctional Facility may similarly make calls by obtaining and using phone cards. The phone cards provided by the Crow Wing Correctional Facility also have printed notices on their faces that inform detainees that their calls may be recorded. However, unlike the Cass County Detention Center, the Crow Wing Correctional Facility does not provide an automated audio message before each call that repeats the notice.

Defendant was subsequently indicted with a charge of being an armed career criminal in possession of a firearm. (Indictment, [Docket No. 8]). Defendant then filed the present motions to suppress.

II. DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE EVIDENCE, [DOCKET NO. 17]

Defendant moves the Court to suppress all electronic surveillance recordings of his telephonic conversations with Sgt. Welk on August 19 and 20, 2014, and the calls that Defendant made and received while at the Cass County Detention Center and the Crow Wing Correctional Facility. Defendant contends that the recordings must be suppressed as unlawfully intercepted and disclosed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ ...


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