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United States v. Valdez

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 7, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
Adrian Joseph Valdez, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          LEO I. BRISBOIS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to a general assignment, made in accordance with the provisions of Title 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1, upon Defendant Adrian J. Valdez's (hereinafter “Defendant”) Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers, [Docket No. 31], and upon Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure. [Docket No. 32]. The Court held a motions hearing on January 15, 2019, regarding the parties' pretrial motions.[1] At the motions hearing, the Court took Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers, [Docket No. 31], and Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure, [Docket No. 32], under advisement.

         For the reasons discussed herein, the Court recommends that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers, [Docket No. 31], be DENIED, and that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure, [Docket No. 32], be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF FACTS

         A. Background

         Defendant is charged with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 113(a)(3), 113(a)(6), 1151, and 1153(a); and two counts of assault resulting in serious bodily injury, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 113(a)(3), 113(a)(6), 1151, and 1153(a). (Indictment [Docket No. 16]).

         B. Facts

         The record presently before the Court indicates that on August 10, 2018, Sergeant Kendall Kingbird (hereinafter “Sgt. Kingbird”) of the Red Lake Police Department was dispatched to Avis Laduke's residence (hereinafter “Laduke Residence”) after a “911” call reporting that there had been a stabbing at the residence. (January 15, 2019, Motions Hearing, Digital Recording at 11:23- 11:25 a.m.).

         Sgt. Kingbird was the first law enforcement officer to arrive at the Laduke Residence (Id.). As he pulled his patrol vehicle into the driveway of the Laduke Residence, Sgt. Kingbird observed Defendant walking down the middle of the driveway towards him, in the direction of the roadway. (Id. at 11:27-11:29 a.m.). He also observed Defendant put his hands up and drop the beer he was holding in his hand. (Id. at 11:27-11:28 a.m.). As Sgt. Kingbird was parking his patrol vehicle, he observed Defendant drop to his knees and put his hands behind his back. (Id.). Sgt. Kingbird then parked his patrol vehicle in the Laduke Residence driveway, approximately 100 yards away from the house. (Id.). Sgt. Kingbird could not clearly see the Laduke Residence or the porch of the residence from where he parked. (Id.).

         After parking, Sgt. Kingbird exited his vehicle and approached Defendant. (Id. at 11:28- 11:29 a.m.). Sgt. Kingbird testified that, while approaching Defendant, he observed that Defendant had blood on his hand. (Id.). Upon seeing the blood on Defendant's hand, Sgt. Kingbird asked Defendant if he was injured, to which Defendant responded, “no.” (Id.). When Sgt. Kingbird walked up to Defendant, without any instructions from Sgt. Kingbird, Defendant laid down and put his hands behind his back. (Id. at 11:29-11:30 a.m.). Defendant then stated, “I stabbed them take me to jail.” (Id. at 11:30-11:31 a.m.).

         After hearing Defendant state that he “stabbed them, ” Sgt. Kingbird put Defendant in handcuffs and read Defendant a Miranda[2] warning. (Id.). Sgt. Kingbird asked Defendant what his name was, but at no time thereafter did Sgt. Kingbird ask Defendant any further questions. (Id.). Sgt. Kingbird observed that Defendant appeared angry, but he reportedly did not have any trouble putting handcuffs on Defendant. (Id.). After reading Defendant his Miranda rights, Sgt. Kingbird helped Defendant stand up and they waited in front of Sgt. Kingbird's patrol vehicle for approximately 15 minutes for a transport unit to arrive. (Id. at 11:33-11:34 a.m.).

         While waiting for a transport unit to take Defendant, Sgt. Kingbird observed an ambulance arrive, proceed to the residence, and subsequently leave the scene with an apparent stabbing victim. (Id.). Afterwards, someone from the Laduke Residence walked down the driveway and made threats toward Defendant. (Id.). Sgt. Kingbird advised the person to return to the Laduke Residence. (Id.).

         A few minutes after that encounter, another vehicle drove up the driveway and parked behind Sgt. Kingbird's vehicle. (Id.). Two people who identified themselves as relatives of one of the stabbing victims exited the vehicle and made threats to Defendant while walking up the driveway towards the house. (Id. at 11:34-11:35 a.m.). Defendant began yelling back at the individuals who had yelled at him, and he again told Sgt. Kingbird to take him to jail. (Id. at 11:35- 11:36 a.m.).

         Defendant then pushed himself off of the front of Sgt. Kingbird's patrol vehicle causing Sgt. Kingbird to put Defendant to the ground. (Id.). Sgt. Kingbird told Defendant that he would tase Defendant if he didn't settle down to which Defendant responded that Sgt. Kingbird should go ahead and tase him because he had been tased before. (Id.). Defendant also told Sgt. Kingbird that the people yelling at him wanted to “start shit with him, ” and he again told Sgt. Kingbird that he “stabbed them.” (Id.).

         Thereafter, the transportation unit arrived, and Defendant was transported to the Red Lake Detention Center. (Id. at 11:36-11:37 a.m.).

         After Defendant was transported to the Red Lake Detention Center, Sgt. Kingbird walked up the driveway to the Laduke Residence. (Id. at 11:39-11:40 a.m.). When he arrived at the house, Sgt. Kingbird observed that there were blood smears on the porch of the Laduke Residence, as well as, lawn furniture and beer cans. (Id. at 11:40-11:41 a.m.). He also observed that there was blood on the ground surrounding the porch. (Id.). Sgt. Kingbird knocked on the door of the Laduke Residence, but no one answered. (Id.).

         Sgt. Kingbird then waited approximately one hour for other officers to arrive. (Id. at 11:41- 11:42 a.m.). While Sgt. Kingbird was waiting for the other officers to arrive, he took pictures of the porch of the Laduke Residence, which had beer cans, blood, and lawn chairs on it. (Id. at 12:06-12:07 p.m.). At one point while Sgt. Kingbird was waiting for other officers to arrive, Avis Laduke, the owner of the home, came outside of the Laduke Residence. (Id. at 11:41-11:42 a.m.). While Avis Laduke was outside, Sgt. Kingbird briefly talked to her, and he thought she might be intoxicated because of her slurred speech and because she smelled of alcohol. (Id.). During their brief discussion, Avis Laduke told Sgt. Kingbird that her son and her nephew had been stabbed, and she said that her son was still inside the Laduke Residence. (Id. at 11:43-11:44 a.m.). Sgt. Kingbird asked Avis Laduke if he could check on her son and she told him no. (Id.).

         Thereafter, Criminal Investigator Geoff Pierre (hereinafter “CI Pierre”) of the Red Lake Tribal Police Department arrived at the Laduke Residence. (Id. at 11:45-11:46 a.m.; 12:15-12:16 p.m.). Sgt. Kingbird walked back down the driveway to talk with CI Pierre and inform him of his conversation with Avis Laduke-specifically that Avis Laduke had told him that her son was injured and still inside the Laduke Residence. (Id.). The officers then walked back up the driveway to the Laduke Residence. (Id.). When the officers got back to the Laduke Residence, Avis Laduke was standing on the porch, and she let them into her home to check on her son, Robert McGregor. (Id.).

         After locating Robert McGregor inside the Laduke Residence, the officers requested another ambulance for Robert McGregor to transport him to a hospital. (Id. at 11:47-11:48 a.m.). The officers also had everyone else then in the house-approximately six people-gather in the living room so they could make sure no one else was injured. (Id.). While the officers were inside the Laduke Residence, they did not look through any drawers, closets, paperwork, or take anything from the inside of the Laduke Residence. (Id. at 12:24-12:25 p.m.).

         Shortly after everyone gathered in the living room, and after an ambulance had transported Robert McGregor from the scene, Special Agent Mark Meyers (hereinafter “SA Meyers”) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bemidji Resident Agency, arrived at the Laduke Residence. (Id. at 12:45-12:46 p.m.). When he arrived, he began to “process the crime scene, ” which included photographing the outside of the Laduke Residence-primarily the porch-as well as, searching outside of the residence for the knife used in the stabbing. (Id. at 12:46-12:47 p.m.). After the officers began processing the scene outside of the Laduke Residence, they did not go back inside the residence. (Id.). Avis Laduke was with the officers the entire time they were outside of her home processing the crime scene, and she did not object to the officers' photographing the outside of the Laduke Residence or searching for a knife. (Id.). While the officers were outside of the Laduke Residence, Andrea Laduke, Avis Laduke's daughter, without being told to do so brought the officers Robert McGregor's shirt that he had been wearing when he was stabbed. (Id. at 12:24- 12:25 p.m.). Also, while processing the exterior crime scene, the officers took a shirt sitting on the porch with them, which they believed belonged to Joshua Laduke, the individual who was the first person to have been transported to a hospital. (Id. at 12:23-12:24 p.m.). Avis Laduke did not object to the officers taking the shirt from the porch. (Id.).

         On August 15, 2018, at approximately 11:08 a.m., SA Meyers interviewed Defendant in a conference room at the Red Lake Police Department, which was attached to the Red Lake Detention Center where Defendant had been held since his arrest on August 10, 2018. (Id. at 12:47-12:48 p.m.).

         Before the interview began, SA Meyers contacted jail control to bring Defendant to the conference room. (Id. at 12:48-12:49 p.m.). SA Meyers testified that when Defendant arrived, he was wearing shackles; however, SA Meyers removed the shackles before asking Defendant any questions. (Id.).

         SA Meyers testified that the conference room had two doors, both of which were closed but unlocked, one wall with windows, one wall with a white board, as well as, a conference table with chairs surrounding it. (Id. at 12:49-12:50 p.m.). SA Meyers further testified that when the interview started, he was alone with Defendant, but shortly after the interview began, Criminal Investigator Ron Leyba (hereinafter “CI Leyba”) came into the conference room. (Id. at 12:50- 12:51 p.m.; Gov't Ex. 2 0:30-1:00).[3]

         At the beginning of the interview, the officers introduced themselves. (Gov't Ex. 2 0:30- 2:00). The officers asked Defendant about his current phone number and address. (Id. at 2:00- 4:00). Defendant answered each question appropriately. (Id.).

         Next, using an Advice of Rights form, SA Meyers read Defendant a Miranda warning. (Id. at 2:00-4:00). Afterwards, SA Meyers asked Defendant to read aloud the consent statement also contained on the Advice of Rights form, and Defendant did so. (Id. at 3:20-3:40; Gov't Ex. 1). SA Meyers asked Defendant if he understood the consent form and Defendant responded, “Yeah I don't have nothing to hide.” (Id. at 5:30-6:00). Defendant then signed the Advice of Rights form, and the form was witnessed by SA Meyers. (Id.).[4]

         The officers next began asking Defendant about the events that occurred on August 10, 2018. (Id. at 6:00-6:30). Defendant began by explaining how he had come to Minnesota from Arizona, (Id. at 6:30-7:30), when he asked the officers if he could wash his face. (Id. at 8:45- 9:45). The officers obliged and gave Defendant a wet towel to clean off his face and gave him a dry towel to dry his face and his hands. (Id.).

         Defendant next discussed the type and quantity of the alcoholic beverages he claimed he had consumed the night of August 10, 2018. (Id. at 10:45-12:00). Defendant then explained that he remembered “tussling around” with someone and that another person told him to leave the Laduke Residence. (Id. at 12:00-13:00). He also recalled hearing someone yell at him that he cut someone and that he simultaneously saw a police vehicle pulling up the driveway of the Laduke Residence. (Id.). Although he could not remember where he threw his knife, Defendant recalled throwing it as he left the Laduke Residence. (Id. at 21:00-21:45). Defendant explained that the knife he used belonged to him and was a chrome, Winchester folding pocket knife with a small blade. (Id.).

         Defendant continued to describe the events that occurred on the night of August 10, 2018, and expressed that he felt bad about his actions because “Robert is a peaceful guy.” (Id. at 22:00- 23:00). Defendant went on to say, “I'll take full responsibility for what I did because these people don't deserve to be hurt like that.” (Id. at 23:00-23:30). Defendant continued to discuss how upset he was and stated, “I feel I let a lot of people down.” (Id. at 25:00-27:30). He further stated that he was “really glad no one died.” (Id. at 28:30-29:00).

         The recording ended at approximately 11:41 a.m. on August 15, 2018. (Id. at 33:00-34:00). Once the interview was completed, SA Meyers collected Defendant's fingerprints and opened the door to the conference room where Defendant was escorted back to his holding cell by jail control staff. (January 15, 2019, Motions Hearing, Digital Recording at 12:56-12:58 p.m.).

         Throughout the August 15, 2018, interview, the officers maintained a conversational tone and made no threats or promises to Defendant. Although Defendant became somewhat emotional at times, Defendant also maintained a conversational tone. He was cooperative throughout the interview and showed a willingness to cooperate with the officers. Defendant also responded appropriately to the questions presented. In total, Defendant's interview lasted for only a little more than thirty (30) minutes.

         II. DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS STATEMENTS, ADMISSIONS, AND ANSWERS. [DOCKET NO. 31].

         Defendant argues that the statements he made on both August 10, 2018, and August 15, 2018, should be suppressed. (Def. Mot., [Docket No. 31], at 2). Regarding his statements on August 10, 2018, Defendant argues only that those statements should be suppressed because he claims he was intoxicated. (Id.). Regarding his August 15, 2018, statements, Defendant argues that those statements should be suppressed because the statements were not the product of a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights. (Id.).

         A. ...


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