United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Jeffrey S. Paulsen, Assistant United States Attorney, United
States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of
Shannon R. Elkins, Esq., Office of the Federal Defender,
Minneapolis, MN on behalf of Defendant Chris Maurice Welch.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for a ruling on Defendant Chris Maurice Welch's
(“Welch”) Objection [Docket No. 42] to Magistrate
Judge Hildy Bowbeer's January 2, 2018 Report and
Recommendation [Docket No. 40] (“R&R”). Judge
Bowbeer recommends denying Welch's Pretrial Motion to
Suppress Search and Seizure [Docket No. 22]. Based on a de
novo review of the record, Welch's Objection is overruled
and the R&R to deny Welch's suppression motion is
March 2017, a confidential informant (“CI”) told
Minneapolis Police Officer Jeffrey Bernard Werner
(“Officer Werner”) that Welch was storing guns
and drugs in a home on 33XX Aldrich Avenue North, and that he
was also selling drugs from that address. Hr'g Tr.
[Docket No. 32] at 7-8. The CI told Officer Werner that
within the past 72 hours he had been in the home where he
personally witnessed Welch storing guns and drugs.
Id. at 8. The CI described Welch as “a black
male about 30-35 years old, about 6'0 tall with a medium
build and medium afro.” Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot.
Suppress [Docket No. 37] Ex. A (“Def.'s Ex.
A”) at 2.
verify this information, Officer Werner entered Welch's
name in the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicle website and
found an individual whose description matched the description
given by the CI. Hr'g Tr. at 8. Officer Werner showed the
CI a photograph of Welch, and the CI identified the person in
the photo as the person he had witnessed storing drugs and
guns inside the Aldrich Avenue residence. Id. at 8,
24. Welch's driver's license information shows that
he is a black male, 32 years old, 6'1" tall, and 196
pounds. See Def.'s Mot. Franks Hr'g [Docket
No. 24] Ex. C. His driver's license photos show him
wearing his hair in different styles, including with and
without braids. Id.
Werner investigated Welch's criminal history and
discovered that Welch had been convicted of felony
first-degree aggravated robbery in 2002 and felony
third-degree narcotics in 2014. Def.'s Ex. A at 2. This
information gave Officer Werner the knowledge that Welch was
prohibited from possessing a firearm. Id.
Werner further corroborated the CI's information by
performing surveillance on the Aldrich Avenue residence.
Hr'g Tr. at 9. He observed people approach the home on
foot and in vehicles, enter the home, and leave a short time
later. Id. This traffic pattern led Officer Werner
to believe that drugs were being sold from within the home.
Id. Another officer, Officer Schroeder, also
conducted surveillance of the home and observed Welch and
another person sitting inside a vehicle that was parked in
the home's driveway. Id. at 8-9.
morning of March 27, 2017, Officer Werner obtained a search
warrant for the Aldrich Avenue residence. See
Def.'s Ex. A at 4. Also that morning, law enforcement
followed Welch from his probation officer's office in St.
Paul to the Aldrich Avenue address. Hr'g Tr. at 10, 26.
After Welch had entered the home, a SWAT team executed the
search warrant. Id. at 10.
the search was occurring inside the home, law enforcement
officers outside the residence encountered two men in a car
parked directly in front of the home. Id. at 19,
26-27. Officers found marijuana and a loaded handgun in the
car. Id. at 19, 26-27. Based on his experience as a
narcotics officer, Officer Werner concluded that the men were
there to buy drugs. Id. at 19, 26-27.
the home, law enforcement officers found the woman who rented
the home, along with her two children. Id. at 11.
Welch and two other men were also present inside a bedroom.
Id. at 11-12. In the bedroom with the three men were
three cell phones; each phone had been broken in half.
Id. at 12. Officer Werner surmised the phones had
been broken to prevent retrieval of text messages and other
incriminating evidence that could link the men to criminal
search of the home resulted in the discovery of four guns in
a kitchen closet, as well as a large amount of synthetic
marijuana-some packaged for sale-and digital scales located
inside a kitchen cabinet. Id. at 12, 14-15. Welch
was arrested for probable cause-weapons and probable
cause-narcotics. Id. at 15. At the time of his
arrest, Welch was wearing his hair in long braids.
Id. at 24; Def.'s Mot. Franks Hr'g Ex. B.
Welch had been arrested and handcuffed, Officer Werner
interviewed him in one of the bedrooms. Hr'g Tr. at 15,
23, 28. The interview began with Officer Werner advising
Welch of his Miranda rights and Welch agreeing to
speak with him. Id. at 16-17. During the interview,
which was audio recorded,  Officer Werner asked, “You're
a felon, correct, so you're not ...