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United States v. Gatlin

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 26, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Melvin Lee Gatlin, Defendant.

Kevin S. Ueland, United States Attorney's Office, 600 U.S. Courthouse, 300 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415, for United States of America

Shannon R. Elkins, Office of the Federal Defender, U.S. Courthouse, Suite 107, 300 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415, for Melvin Lee Gatlin

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

HILDY BOWBEER, Magistrate Judge.

This case came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for a pretrial motion hearing on December 15, 2014. This case was referred for resolution of pretrial matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and District of Minnesota Local Rule 72.1. Trial is scheduled to commence before the Honorable Joan N. Ericksen, United States District Judge, on Monday, March 23, 2015.

The Court will address Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence [Doc. No. 27] in this Report and Recommendation. The parties' nondispositive motions will be addressed in a separate Order.

I. Procedural Background

The Government filed a Criminal Complaint in this action on September 15, 2014, providing probable cause to believe that Defendant committed two counts of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). (Crim. Compl. [Doc. No. 1].) The Complaint alleged that on September 12, 2014, Defendant knowingly and by intimidation took $721 from a Premier Bank teller and $7, 245 from an Americana Community Bank teller. On October 15, 2014, the Government filed an Indictment charging Defendant with the two counts of bank robbery described above, except the amount of the second alleged robbery was reduced to $7, 060. (Indictment [Doc. No. 10].)

On November 21, 2014, Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence seized from his residence at 1341 Knox Avenue North in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and DNA evidence seized from his person. (Def.'s Mot. Suppress [Doc. No. 27].) The Government opposed the motion and notified the Court of its intent to present witness testimony. (Gov't's Resp. at 5 [Doc. No. 32]; Gov't's Notice at 1 [Doc. No. 33].)

The Court held a hearing on the motion to suppress on December 15, 2014. The Government called Maple Grove Police Detectives Jason Heilman and Laurel Slawson as witnesses, and introduced the following exhibits:

1. Government Exhibit 1: a copy of an application for a search warrant for 1341 Knox Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota; a motor vehicle identified as a grey 2014 Dodge Charger, MN license plate 997NMY; and the person of Melvin Lee Gatlin. Government Exhibit 1 also included a copy of the first search warrant signed by Hennepin County District Judge Laurie J. Miller on September 12, 2014.
2. Government Exhibit 2: a copy of an application for a search warrant for 1341 Knox Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and a motor vehicle identified as a grey 2014 Dodge Charger, MN license plate 997NMY. Government Exhibit 2 also included a copy of the second search warrant signed by Judge Miller on September 12, 2014. The application and search warrant in Government Exhibit 2 differed from those in Government Exhibit 1 in that they listed the following property and things to seize: a construction-style hard hat, a yellow traffic safety vest, clear safety style glasses, sunglasses with light-colored frames, a black and grey satchel-style bag, U.S. currency, U.S. currency in $20 bills marked with five listed serial numbers, and a black or grey cellular phone with a globe symbol.
3. Government Exhibit 3: a copy of a receipt, inventory, and return form dated September 12, 2014, for a yellow hard hat seized from the garage, safety glasses seized from a Cadillac, an orange-yellow safety vest seized from a Cadillac, four other safety vests, and $7, 245 in cash seized from the basement of 1341 Knox Avenue North.
4. Government Exhibit 4: a copy of a consent to search form for a Chevrolet Malibu, MN license plate 657LSL; a Cadillac, MN license plate 110KKT; and the detached garage of 1341 Knox Avenue North, Minneapolis. The form was signed by Albreta Safford on September 12, 2014.
5. Government Exhibit 5: a copy of a consent to search form for a 2000 Gold Chevrolet Tahoe, MN license plate 643BVG, signed by Patricia Warren on September 12, 2014.

Defendant called Albreta Safford to testify and introduced the following two exhibits at the motion hearing:

1. Defendant's Exhibit 1: a copy of a receipt, inventory, and return form dated September 12, 2014, listing a yellow hard hat seized from the garage, safety glasses seized from a Cadillac, an orange-yellow safety vest seized from a Cadillac, four other safety vests, a dog tag, three glasses, a dark bag with U.S. currency, three mailings for Defendant sent to the 1341 Knox Avenue North address, and two traffic vests.
2. Defendant's Exhibit 2: a copy of a search warrant for 1341 Knox Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Melvin Lee Gatlin; and a grey 2014 Dodge Charger, MN license plate 997NMY. The warrant was signed by Judge Miller on September 12, 2014. Defendant's Exhibit 2 is the same search warrant as that included in Government's Exhibit 1.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the parties requested and received permission to file post-hearing memoranda on the issues raised by Defendant's motion to suppress. To accommodate Defendant's request to order a transcript of the hearing, the Court set the deadline for Defendant's post-hearing memorandum as Tuesday, January 6, 2015, and the Government's deadline to respond as Tuesday, January 13, 2015. The Court took the motion to suppress under advisement on January 13, 2015, after briefing was complete.

In Defendant's post-hearing memorandum, he narrowed his motion to suppress to evidence seized from 1341 Knox Avenue North, including the detached garage and vehicles located therein.[1] (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Suppress at 1, 14 [Doc. No. 43].) Defendant provided three grounds for exclusion of the evidence: (1) the search warrant lacked a sufficient nexus between the bank robberies and 1341 Knox Avenue North; (2) the search warrant was facially invalid; and (3) Ms. Safford's consent to search her garage and vehicles was involuntary and the fruit of an illegal search. ( Id. at 1.)

II. Factual Background[2]

A. The Bank Robberies and Identification of Defendant as a Suspect

On September 12, 2014, Detective Heilman learned of two robberies that had occurred earlier that day, one at Americana Community Bank ("Americana") in Maple Grove, Minnesota, and one at Premier Bank ("Premier") in Albertville, Minnesota. (Mots. Hr'g Tr., Dec. 15, 2014 ("Tr.") at 7-8, 10 [Doc. No. 42].) A Hennepin County dispatcher described the suspect in both robberies "as a black male wearing a traffic style vest, bright colored, with a yellow hardhat." (Tr. at 8.) Detective Heilman recalled the dispatcher's description of the suspect vehicle in the Premier robbery as a "dark colored Dodge Charger, " while Detective ...


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