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United States v. Demar James

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 25, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Martavis Shawn Demar James, Defendant.

          Alan A. Slaughter, Jr., United States Attorney's Office for Plaintiff.

          Peter B. Wold, Wold Morrison Law, for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is before the Court on Defendant's objections (“Objections”) [Doc. No. 28] to United States Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer's November 26, 2018 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [Doc. No. 26] recommending that this Court deny Defendant's Motion to Suppress Search and Seizure of Items [Doc. No. 18]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court overrules Plaintiff's Objections, adopts the R&R in full, and denies Defendant's Motion to Suppress.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         On September 12, 2018, Defendant was indicted on five counts of Interference with Commerce by Robbery and one count of Attempted Interference with Commerce by Robbery. (Indictment [Doc. No. 1].) The indictment concerned robberies or attempted robberies of at least ten businesses in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul metropolitan area committed by the same individual between March and June 2018. (Govt.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. to Suppress (“Govt.'s Mot. in Opp'n”) [Doc. No. 20] at 1.)

         As law enforcement agents were unable to identify the perpetrator of these robberies through surveillance videos at these locations, they applied for search warrants for cellular tower data in the vicinity to determine whether “a particular cellular phone number (ostensibly held by the robber) could be identified during the time frames of each of the respective robberies.” (Govt.'s Mot. in Opp'n at 2).

         Analysis of the cellular information revealed that the same cellphone number was near at least five of the six robbery locations during the time of the robberies. (Id.) On this basis, law enforcement agents were granted a search warrant for the use of active GPS “ping” geolocation data for Defendant's cellphone and the use of a pen register to monitor Defendant's movements. (Id. at 3.) On June 1, 2018, agents followed Defendant to a CVS store located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota where they observed him casing and approaching the store while wearing the same or similar black clothing, black gloves, and mask seen in the surveillance video. (Id.) Defendant, however, was unable to enter the store as the doors had been locked by law enforcement. (Id.) Defendant walked back to his vehicle and, once inside, he was arrested. (Id.)

         As part of a search incident to his arrest, law enforcement agents searched the main cabin of the vehicle and located a black and red duffel bag in the passenger seat. (Id.) The duffel bag appeared to be the same one used in the commission of the other robberies and contained a bank deposit bag that was taken during the commission of one of the four CVS robberies. (Id. at 3-4.) Law enforcement also found a handgun under the driver's seat and Defendant's cellphone in the vehicle's center console. (Id. at 4.)

         B. Procedural Background

         On October 10, 2018, Defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained as a result of searches conducted pursuant to the nine search warrants issued by Anoka and Hennepin County District Courts. (Def.'s Mot. to Suppress at 1.) The search warrants were reviewed and issued by three different state court judges. (Govt.'s Mot. in Opp'n, Ex. 1; Ex. 2; Ex. 3.)

         Defendant challenges the first three warrants, each of which authorized the collection of cellular tower data and call detail record information of all cellular devices utilizing the cell site/sector near the specified areas for a variety of dates, times, and locations correlated with the robberies. (Def.'s Mot. to Suppress at 2.) The search warrants were constrained to an approximately ninety-minute time frame on the date of each robbery. (Id.) Defendant argues these search warrants were exploratory searches and lacked definiteness and the necessary probable cause. (Id. at 2-3.)

         Subsequently, three more robberies occurred on April 11, 2018, April 26, 2018, and May 4, 2018 utilizing the same modus operandi as the first three robberies. (Govt.'s Mot. in Opp'n, Ex. 2 at 4-5.) Two search warrants were applied for and granted on May 8, 2018, authorizing the release of the same type of information from the same carriers called for by the first search warrant and authorizing the search of ...


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