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United States v. Myhre

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 19, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Jeremy Ryan Myhre, Defendant.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge

         Before the Court is the April 29, 2019 Report and Recommendation (R&R) of United States Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright. (Dkt. 38.) The R&R recommends denying both Defendant Jeremy Ryan Myhre's motion to suppress statements made during an interview with police officers and his motion to suppress evidence obtained from Myhre's residence during the execution of a search warrant. Myhre filed objections to the recommendation to deny his motion to suppress statements, and Plaintiff United States of America responded. For the reasons addressed below, the Court overrules Myhre's objections and adopts the R&R.

         BACKGROUND

         The indictment in this case charges Myhre with possession and distribution of child pornography. The investigation of this case began when police officers traced child pornography files to an IP address registered to Myhre's residence. Police officers obtained a search warrant for Myhre's residence and executed that search warrant on December 20, 2016.

         FBI Special Agent Robert J.E. Blackmore and his team arrived at Myhre's residence on December 20, 2016, identified themselves as police, and presented the search warrant. The officers conducted a security sweep of the premises and briefly handcuffed Myhre. After securing the area, Special Agent Blackmore and Captain Wyatt Bienfang interviewed Myhre. Special Agent Blackmore's weapon was concealed and Captain Bienfang's weapon was visible. The officers conducted the interview in a guest bedroom and allowed Myhre to sit where he would feel most comfortable. Although he did not provide Miranda warnings to Myhre, Special Agent Blackmore asked Myhre if he would be willing to participate in the interview. Myhre agreed to do so and did not object to having the interview recorded. Special Agent Blackmore told Myhre during this interview that he was not under arrest and did not have to participate in the interview.

         The record indicates that the tone of the interview was polite and cordial. Myhre presented no signs of confusion during the interview. And Special Agent Blackmore made no promises to Myhre. The interview lasted approximately one hour. The officers did not arrest Myhre at the conclusion of the interview.[1]

         Myhre filed a motion to suppress the statements he made during the December 20, 2016 interview and a motion to suppress evidence obtained during the search of his residence on that same date. The magistrate judge issued an R&R that recommends denying both of Myhre's motions. The R&R concludes that Myhre was not in custody during the interview and his statements were made voluntarily. The R&R also concludes that the evidence seized during the execution of the search warrant should not be suppressed because the search was constitutional, as the underlying search warrant was based on probable cause. Myhre objects only to the recommendation to deny his motion to suppress his statements made during the interview. Neither party objects to the R&R's remaining conclusions. The United States filed a response to Myhre's objections.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Myhre's Objections to the R&R

         Because Myhre filed timely objections with respect to the motion to suppress statements, the Court reviews that portion of the R&R de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); accord LR 72.2(b)(3).

         Myhre contends that the R&R erroneously concluded that Myhre was not in custody during his December 20, 2016 interview with police officers. Courts in the Eighth Circuit utilize the Griffin factors when analyzing whether an interview is custodial. United States v. Griffin, 922 F.2d 1343, 1349 (8th Cir. 1990). The Griffin factors include:

(1) whether the suspect was informed at the time of questioning that the questioning was voluntary, that the suspect was free to leave or request the officers to do so, or that the suspect was not considered under arrest; (2) whether the suspect possessed unrestrained freedom of movement during questioning; (3) whether the suspect initiated contact with authorities or voluntarily acquiesced to official requests to respond to questions; (4) whether strong arm tactics or deceptive stratagems were employed during questioning; (5) whether the atmosphere of the questioning was police dominated; or, (6) whether the suspect was placed under arrest at the termination of the questioning.

Id.

         As relevant to the first three Griffin factors, the officers advised Myhre that he was not under arrest, Myhre was allowed to choose where to position himself during the interview, and he responded to the officers' questions despite being told that he did not have to. As to the latter three Griffin factors, the record indicates that the tone of the interview was polite, there was a two-way conversation between the police officers and Myhre, and Myhre was not ...


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