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United States v. Clemons

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 9, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MARLON CLEMONS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS. 13, 15]

          Benita Y. Pearson United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 13) and Motion in Limine (ECF No. 15). The Government responded. ECF No. 17. During the June 5, 2017 Final Pretrial Conference, the Court heard from counsel on both Motions.[1] For the following reasons, the Motion to Suppress is denied, in part, and the Government agrees to self-suppress the third statement. In the alternative, the Motion to Suppress is granted, in part. The Government also agrees to self-suppress the facts underlying the arrest warrant. In the alternative, the Motion in Limine is granted.

         I. Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 13)

         Defendant moves to suppress three statements made during his arrest and while in custody, as well as evidence obtained during the search of Defendant's mother's rental vehicle. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion to Suppress the first two statements is denied. The third statement is self-suppressed, or in the alternative, the Motion to Suppress the third statement is granted. Defendant's Motion to Suppress evidence from the search of the vehicle is denied.

         A. Background

         On January 23, 2017, members of the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force (“NOVFTF”), aware that Defendant was under indictment and had a pending arrest warrant in a separate case, attempted to locate and arrest Defendant. ECF No. 17 at PageID #: 58-59. After conducting surveillance on Defendant's girlfriend's residence, members of NOVFTF positively identified Defendant. Id. at PageID #: 59. NOVFTF members then watched Defendant and his girlfriend enter a silver Nissan Altima with Florida license plates-Defendant as driver, and his girlfriend as passenger. Id. After the pair pulled out of the driveway, NOVFTF members activated their overhead emergency lights and stopped the car. Id.

         As Task Force Officer (“TFO”) Cantlin attempted to remove Defendant from the car, Defendant voluntarily stated, without being questioned, “I have a gun.” ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 43; ECF No. 17 at PageID #: 59. The officers asked Defendant where the gun was located, to which he replied, “It's under my seat.” ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 43; ECF No. 17 at PageID #: 60. Officers ordered Defendant to exit from the car and performed a search, which yielded a firearm, a Taurus, Model PT145 PRO, .45 caliber pistol, serial number NDR57880, under the driver's seat. ECF No. 17 at PageID #: 60. The firearm was loaded with .45 caliber ammunition. Id. During transport from the arrest location to Garfield Heights Jail, an officer asked Defendant if he thought the gun was stolen. Id. He replied, “I didn't steal it, I bought it in the streets.” ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 43; ECF No. 17 at PageID #: 60.

         After his arrest, NOVFTF determined that the Nissan was a rental vehicle not owned by Defendant or his girlfriend. ECF No. 17 at PageID #: 60. Defendant's mother had rented the vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car (“Enterprise”). ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 43; ECF No. 17 at PageID #: 60. It was not until Defendant's mother arrived on the scene of the arrest, and NOVFTF telephonically confirmed the rental with Enterprise, that NOVFTF was able to release the vehicle to Defendant's mother. ECF No. 17 at PageID#: 60.

         Defendant was indicted for possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of Title 18, Sections 922(g)(1) and 924(e) of the United States Code.

         B. Discussion

         Defendant moves to suppress his statements, arguing that they were made in violation of his Miranda rights. ECF No. 13. Defendant also contends that the search of the vehicle was a warrantless search, and, accordingly, the firearm must be suppressed. Id. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion to Suppress his first two statements and his Motion to suppress the firearm are denied. Defendant's Motion to Suppress his third statement is granted.

         i. Defendant's First Statement

         Defendant argues that he was not advised of his Miranda rights, and, therefore, his statement that “I have a gun” must be suppressed. ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 44. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects against self-incrimination. U.S. Const. amend. V. A “prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination.” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966). “[T]he term ‘interrogation' under Miranda refers not only to express questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of the police (other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect.” Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301 (1980) (footnotes omitted). Volunteered statements of any kind are not barred by the Fifth Amendment, and their admissibility is not affected by Miranda's holding. Miranda, 384 U.S. at 478; United States v. Collins, 683 F.3d 697, 703 (6th Cir. 2012).

         There is no dispute that Defendant was detained when he made all three statements, and that he had not been advised of his rights under Miranda. ECF No. 17 at PageID #: 60. Nonetheless, Defendant's statement that he had a gun was voluntary. He told the officers about the gun without being prompted, and there is no indication that the officers otherwise compelled him to volunteer that he had a gun. Although Defendant “calls into question law enforcement's self-serving account that his initial statement was made with no questioning by law enforcement, ” ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 44, and argued at his Final Pretrial Conference that there was no video or audio recording of Defendant's ...


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