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United States v. Lussier

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 2, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
Dayton Gage Lussier, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          LEO I. BRISBOIS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge upon Defendant Dayton Gage Lussier's (“Defendant”) Motion to Suppress Statements. [Docket No. 19]. This case has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 72.1. The Court held a motions hearing on May 16, 2019, regarding the parties' pretrial motions.[1]

         Following the motions hearing, the parties requested the opportunity to submit supplemental briefing. The Court took Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statement, [Docket No. 19], under advisement on June 7, 2019.

         For reasons discussed herein, the Court recommends that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements, [Docket No. 19] be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF FACTS

         A. Background

         Defendant is charged with one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 113(a)(3), 1151, and 1153(a); and one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 113(a)(6), 1151, and 1153(a). (Indictment [Docket No. 1]).

         B. Facts

         Defendant's motion asks the Court to suppress statements that the Defendant made to law enforcement on April 18, 2018, because he asserts he was subject to what amounted to a custodial interrogation without having been provided a Miranda advisory. (Def.'s Mot. [Docket No. 19]; Def.'s Mem. in Supp., [Docket No. 20], at 3-4).

         On April 18, 2018, three members of law enforcement arrived at the driveway of Defendant's grandfather's residence to interview Defendant. (May 16, 2019, Motions Hearing, Digital Recording at 1:37-1:38 p.m.). The three members of law enforcement arrived in multiple vehicles, which were all unmarked and at no point did the officers turn on the police lights or sirens of any of the vehicles. (Id. at 1:43-1:44 p.m.). When the officers arrived, Defendant's mother and grandfather were present, and the officers talked to both of them. (Id.). Thereafter, Defendant arrived at the residence in his vehicle approximately 30 seconds later. (Id.; 1:53-1:54 p.m.). After Defendant arrived, the officers did not make any effort to block in the vehicle he arrived in. (Id. at 1:57-1:58 p.m.).

         At approximately 4:45 p.m., Federal Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Mark Meyers (hereinafter “SA Meyers”), who was in civilian attire, began a recorded interview of Defendant. (Id.). The interview occurred outside of Defendant's grandfather's property in an area that was not fenced in. (Id. at 1:41-1:42 p.m.; 1:49-1:50 p.m.). Additionally, during the interview, Defendant's mother and grandfather were standing and talking to the other officers a few feet away from Defendant within earshot of the interview. (Id.).

         Before SA Meyers started his recording device, he introduced himself and asked Defendant if he could speak with him. (Id. at 1:51-1:52 p.m.). He then asked Defendant to walk with him towards his vehicle. (Id. at 1:40-1:41 p.m.). At the start of the interview, SA Meyers set the recording device on the hood of his vehicle and asked Defendant his name and date of birth. (Gov't Ex. 1 at 0:15-0:45).[2] SA Meyers then informed Defendant that he wanted to talk him about an incident that Defendant was involved in with a person named Avery. (Id. at 1:45-2:00). At the conclusion of the interview, SA Meyers told Defendant to “have a nice day.” (Id. at 11:15-11:25).

         In total, the interview lasted for approximately 11 minutes. At no point during the interview did any law enforcement officer have a weapon drawn, nor was Defendant handcuffed at any point during his encounter with law enforcement. (May 16, 2019, Motions Hearing, Digital Recording at 1:45-1:46 p.m.). Further, at no point during the interview did SA Meyers or the other two law enforcement officials inform Defendant that he was under arrest or going to be arrested. Furthermore, SA Meyers maintained a conversational tone during his interview with Defendant. (Id. at 1:46-1:47 p.m.). At no point during the interview did Defendant ask any of the officers if he could leave or otherwise indicate that he wanted to end the interview. Additionally, at no point during the interview did SA Meyers or any other law enforcement officer make any promises to Defendant. (Id. at 1:49-1:50 p.m.).

         A. Standard of Review

         As noted above, Defendant generally argues that the circumstances on April 18, 2018, were tantamount to him being in custody during his interview such that law enforcement was required to read him a Miranda warning, and that, as a result of the officers' failure to read him any Miranda warnings, the statement that he made during the interview on April 18, 2018, ought to be suppressed. (Def.'s Mem. in Supp., [Docket No. 20], at 3-4).

         “[Miranda] prohibits the government from introducing into evidence statements made by the defendant during a custodial interrogation unless the defendant has been previously advised of his [F]ifth [A]mendment privilege against self-incrimination and right to an attorney.” United States v. Chipps, 410 F.3d 438, 445 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966)). Law enforcement must provide a Miranda advisory prior to interrogation when a person has been “taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.” Stansbury v. California, 511 U.S. 318, 322 (1994) (quoting Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444). Significantly, law enforcement officers “are not required to administer Miranda warnings to everyone whom they question.” Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 495 (1977). “Miranda warnings are required only where there has been such a restriction on a person's freedom as to render him in custody.” Id. (internal quotation omitted).

         The Eighth Circuit considers six (6) factors when evaluating whether an individual is “in ...


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