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United States v. Christy

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

January 3, 2014

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Edward CHRISTY, Defendant-Appellant.

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Lee P. McMillian of the Law Offices of Lee McMillian, South Houston, TX, for Defendant-Appellant.

Laura Fashing, Assistant United States Attorney (and Kenneth J. Gonzales, United States Attorney, on the brief), Albuquerque, NM, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before KELLY, HARTZ, and MATHESON, Circuit Judges.

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Defendant-Appellant Edward Christy appeals from an order of the district court granting in part the government's motion to reconsider and denying Mr. Christy's motion to suppress on the basis of the inevitable discovery doctrine. United States v. Christy, 810 F.Supp.2d 1219 (D.N.M.2011). The district court initially granted the motion to suppress. United States v. Christy, 785 F.Supp.2d 1004 (D.N.M.2011).[1] Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the motion to reconsider and correctly applied the inevitable discovery doctrine. We therefore affirm.


This case concerns Mr. Christy's relationship with a sixteen-year-old girl (" K.Y." ). Mr. Christy met K.Y. on, a dating website, Aplt.App. 431, and the two exchanged sexually explicit emails and photographs, id. at 417-18. Believing that her father was abusive, Mr. Christy arranged to pick K.Y. up from her home in Westminster, California, and bring her to his home in Albuquerque, which he did. Id. at 431.

On November 8, 2009, K.Y.'s parents reported her missing. Id. at 417. K.Y's father gained access to her email account and found sexually explicit exchanges with

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Mr. Christy. Id. at 417-18. FBI Task Force Officers Carvo and Fletes investigated K.Y.'s disappearance. Id. at 418. Using K.Y.'s telephone records, they found that she received three calls from Mr. Christy around the time of her disappearance and obtained Mr. Christy's address and other information from his cellular provider. Id. at 418-19. Using Mr. Christy's cell phone usage data, the agents determined that he traveled to California and back to Albuquerque. Id. at 419-20.

On November 9, 2009, the officers contacted the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office (" BCSO" ) and told them what they had found. Id. at 421. As a result, BCSO deputies Littlefield and McKinney were dispatched to Mr. Christy's residence to conduct a welfare check on K.Y. Id. at 421-22. One of the deputies walked to the rear of the house and noticed a crack in the blinds covering a window. Id. at 423. He peered through the window and saw K.Y. wearing a brassiere and underwear, smiling and holding a rope. Id. at 423-24. Concerned for K.Y.'s safety, the deputy asked his sergeant for permission to force entry into the house and for backup. Id. at 424. He looked again through the window and saw K.Y. no longer wearing a brassiere and bound by the rope, and observed camera flashes. Id. at 425.

When backup arrived, the deputies forced entry into the house and arrested Mr. Christy. Id. at 425-27. They conducted a protective sweep and found pornographic materials. Id. at 426. Mr. Christy was given Miranda warnings and told the deputies he had picked K.Y. up from California. Id. at 427. He was taken to a law enforcement center and interviewed by Detective Proctor (" detective" ). Id. at 428, 430. Mr. Christy told the detective about his relationship with K.Y., how he drove her from California to Albuquerque, and that they had sex. Id. at 431.

Based in part on the BCSO deputies' observations at Mr. Christy's residence and Mr. Christy's post-arrest statements, the detective prepared and obtained warrants to search Mr. Christy's residence, cell phone, vehicle, computer, and person. Id. at 433-435. Pursuant to the warrants, BCSO deputies obtained used condoms, sexual devices, and computer files later determined to contain child pornography, including pictures of K.Y. Id. at 435-36.

In May 2010, Mr. Christy was indicted by a federal grand jury. Id. at 436. He was charged with one count of transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a), and three counts of possession of matter containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252(a)(4)(b), (b)(2), & 2256. App. 18-20.[2] He filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the warrantless search of his house, including his statements to the detective and all evidence obtained pursuant to the search warrants. Id. at 437. The district court found that the deputies ...

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