United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
Michael R. Barrett United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court following an evidentiary hearing
and argument upon Defendant Meah Virge's Motion to
Suppress Statements. (Doc. 57). Defendant moves to suppress
"any and all oral statements made by Defendant which the
Government may seek to introduce at the trial."
Virge and Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Task Force
Officers Mark Bohan and Shawn Cox testified at the hearing.
Ms. Virge provided the Court with an April 20, 2017, video
recording of an interview of Ms. Virge, conducted by task
force officers at the Cincinnati Police District 3 station
(District 3) (D1), and an April 20, 2017, investigative
report written by Task Force Officer Carrie Heuser (D2).
Testimony adduced at the hearing confirmed that, on the
morning of April 20, 2017, task force officers executed a
search warrant at the residence identified as being occupied
by co-Defendant Donald Hope and Ms. Virge. Although Ms. Virge
was not home when the officers began the search, she arrived
at the scene while the officers were conducting the search.
The officers discovered that, at that time, there was an open
felony arrest warrant for Ms. Virge relating to drug
trafficking. Due to the outstanding warrant, officers
handcuffed Ms. Virge and seated her on the front porch for
the remainder of the search. After approximately 45 minutes,
officers transported Ms. Virge to the District 3 station and
advised her of her Miranda rights.
motion, Ms. Virge contends that the oral statements obtained
by the task force officers at the District 3 station were
taken in violation of the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Doc. 57). She
concedes that the officers at the District 3 interview
"read her Miranda rights," but argues that
she was coerced into answering their questions, as they
allegedly told her that "her children would be taken
from her custody if she refused to answer [their]
questions." (Id.). At the hearing, Ms. Virge
argued that, at the scene of the execution of the search
warrant of her residence, she was questioned by task force
officers but was not read her Miranda rights.
Fifth Amendment provides that "[n]o person . . . shall
be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against
himself." U.S. Const. amend. V. The Sixth Amendment
provides that, "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the
accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of
Counsel for his defence." U.S. Const. amend. VI. In
Miranda v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court
when an individual is taken into custody or otherwise
deprived of his freedom by the authorities in any significant
way and is subjected to questioning . . . [h]e must be warned
prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain
silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a
court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an
attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will
be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so
384 U.S. 436, 478-79 (1966). If, during questioning, an
"individual states that he wants an attorney, the
interrogation must cease until an attorney is present."
Id. at 474. "Miranda thus declared
that an accused has a Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right to
have counsel present during custodial interrogation."
Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 482 (1981). When a
person in custody invokes that right or otherwise
"'expresse[s] his desire to deal with the police
only through counsel, [he] is not subject to further
interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made
available to him,' unless he validly waives his earlier
request for counsel." Smith v. Illinois, 469
U.S. 91, 94-95, (1984) (quoting Edwards, 451 U.S. at
Ms. Virge's arguments concerning her right to have
counsel present while she was at the District 3 interview,
(Doc. 57), she presents no evidence that she invoked her
right to have counsel present during that interview. See
Miranda and Smith, both supra. The
Court's review of the video recording of the interview
confirms that she did not ask to have counsel present. (D1).
Similarly, to the extent that she alleges that the officers
conducting the District 3 interview threatened to take her
children away if she did not answer their questions, (Doc.
57), the Court cannot find such a conversation on the video
recording, (D1). In contrast, the Court notes that one of the
District 3 officers interviewing Ms. Virge explained that the
task force officers who executed the search warrant of her
residence called 241-KIDS in an effort to protect her teenage
daughter from co-Defendant Hope.
to Ms. Virge's arguments concerning her right against
self-incrimination at the District 3 interview, (Doc. 57), it
is clear from the video recording that, before the officers
questioned her regarding her and co-Defendant Hope's
alleged drug activity, she was advised, understood, and
executed an Advice of Rights form. (Id.). Only
following this advice, and pursuant to Miranda, did
the officers ask Ms. Virge about numerous issues. The video
evidence demonstrates that Ms. Virge was advised of her
rights, understood her rights, and signed the Advice of
Rights form before the officers' questions ensued.
Accordingly, the Court holds that Defendant's Motion to
Suppress Statements (Doc. 57) is OVERRULED.
with respect to Ms. Virge's arguments regarding her right
against self-incrimination while at the scene of the
execution of the search warrant of her residence, there is no
evidence that task force officers advised Ms. Virge of her
Miranda rights prior to the District 3 interview.
Nevertheless, during the course of the District 3 interview,
the officers asked Ms. Virge specific questions regarding
comments she made while on the front porch. At this time, the
Court does not have the transcript of the District 3
interview. The Court, therefore, conditionally
ORDERS the redaction of certain questions beginning
with, "One of the officers said that you said something
about, have you ever dealt [drugs]?" through "This
is your time to be honest." (D1 at 08:47-10:15). There
is additional discussion during the District 3 interview
about Ms. Virge's prior contacts with law enforcement and
prior possible convictions which may also need to be redacted
depending on the facts and circumstances. The Court will also
need to address the possibility of a severance based upon the
statements she made regarding co-Defendant Hope.
accordance with the foregoing, Defendant's Motion to