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United States v. Heyer

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 14, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Jaysen Lane Heyer, Defendant.

          Deidre Y. Aanstad, United States Attorney's Office, for Plaintiff.

          Kevin C. Cornwell, Law Office of Kevin C. Cornwell, for Defendant.




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jaysen Lane Heyer's Objections [Doc. No. 40] to United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), dated July 6, 2017 [Doc. No. 39]. The magistrate judge recommended that Defendant's motions to suppress evidence [Doc. No. 22] (“Def.'s Mot. to Suppress”) and for a Franks hearing [Doc. No. 24] (“Def.'s Franks Mot.”) be denied.

         Pursuant to statute, this Court reviews de novo any portion of the magistrate judge's opinion to which specific objections are made, and “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations” contained in that opinion. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). For the reasons stated herein, the Court overrules Defendant's objections and adopts the R&R in its entirety.


         The facts pertinent to this matter have been carefully detailed in the R&R, and will not be repeated in full here. (See R&R at 1-3.) Stated briefly, in December 2016, an informant by the name of Thomas Michael Jones told law enforcement officers that members of a street gang known as the “Native Mob” were trying to obtain firearms. (See R&R at 1-2.)[1] Of particular relevance here, Jones also stated that Heyer had recently obtained a stolen pistol and a stolen assault rifle. (See Id. at 2.) Because Heyer was prohibited from possessing firearms due to his criminal history, law enforcement officers began looking for him. That search brought them to Squaw Lake, Minnesota, and a house known as the “Bear Den, ” where Heyer was said to reside. (See id.)

         On December 28, 2016, officers located Heyer at a house close to the Bear Den. After some equivocation, Heyer admitted that he lived at the Bear Den and agreed to return there to meet with his Department of Corrections (“DOC”) agent and other law enforcement officers. (See id.) As Heyer drove toward the Bear Den with officers following, however, he accelerated in an apparent attempt to escape. (See id.) Although law enforcement officers attempted to pursue Heyer, they ultimately discontinued pursuit due to concern for public safety, and he escaped. (See id.) Instead, the officers returned to the Bear Den to await Heyer's return, and to secure a search warrant to search the residence. (See id.)

         Based upon the affidavit of Investigator Mark Weller, relaying the information set forth above, a Minnesota state district court judge issued a warrant to search the Bear Den for firearms, ammunition, and evidence of residency by Heyer. (See Id. at 3.) The ensuing search of the residence uncovered firearms, ammunition, methamphetamine, and methamphetamine smoking paraphernalia. (See id.) Heyer was subsequently indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B), and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). (See id.)

         Heyer brought the present motions on May 9, 2017. In his Franks motion, Heyer contends that he is entitled to a hearing to test whether material information-namely, that Jones had a lengthy criminal history arguably casting doubt on his propensity for truthfulness-was improperly omitted from Investigator Weller's warrant affidavit. (See R&R at 4-5.) Relatedly, Heyer contends in his motion to suppress that there was insufficient probable cause to justify issuance of the Bear Den search warrant. (See R&R at 11-13.) Both motions were referred by this Court to the magistrate judge for his consideration. See 28 U.S.C. § 636; D. Minn. LR 72.1. Judge Brisbois duly submitted his R&R on July 6, 2017, recommending that both motions be denied. (See generally R&R.) Heyer subsequently filed timely objections, triggering this de novo review.


         A. Defendant's Motion for a Franks Hearing

         Heyer requests a Franks hearing based upon the omission of specific information about Jones's criminal history from the warrant affidavit. In Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 155-56 (1978), the Supreme Court held that “where the defendant makes a substantial preliminary showing that a false statement knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was included by the affiant in the warrant affidavit, and if the allegedly false statement is necessary to the finding of probable cause, the Fourth Amendment requires that a hearing be held at the defendant's request.” As the magistrate judge properly recognized, this “substantial preliminary showing” requirement is not met lightly, and “requires a defendant to offer specific allegations along with supporting affidavits or similarly reliable statements.” United States v. Gonzalez, 781 F.3d 422, 430 (8th Cir. 2015). Although reckless disregard for the truth may be inferred from the fact that information was omitted, the inference will lie only where the defendant shows that the ...

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