United States District Court, D. Kansas
For Jemel T. Knox, CUSTODY, Defendant: Chekasha F. Ramsey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of Federal Public Defender, Kansas City, KS.
For USA, Plaintiff: Terra D. Morehead, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of United States Attorney - Kansas City, Kansas City, KS.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
JULIE A. ROBINSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jemel Knox's Motion to Suppress Evidence (Doc. 23). Defendant contends the firearm seized during an apartment search should be suppressed because the warrant authorizing the search was not supported by a showing of probable cause. The Government has responded (Doc. 26), and an evidentiary hearing was held on November 24, 2014. The Court has reviewed the evidence and arguments adduced at the hearing and is now prepared to rule. As explained in detail below, although the Court finds the search warrant was not supported by probable cause, the Court concludes the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies. The Court denies Defendant's motion.
On January 16, 2014, Defendant failed to appear in state court for a hearing on a charge for felony fleeing and eluding. Officers determined that at the time of the hearing, Defendant had cut off his GPS monitor and fled from an apartment building at 907 North Iowa Street in Olathe, Kansas. Based on these events, the Johnson County District Court issued two warrants for Defendant's arrest: one for failure to appear and another for aggravated escape from custody.
The Johnson County Sheriff's Office assigned Detective Kevin Finley to locate
and arrest Defendant. In a search warrant affidavit later filed with the Johnson County District Court, Detective Finley describes the relevant pieces of his investigation as follows:
1. . . . Knox is . . . a convicted felon barred from possessing firearms.
2. [On 01/16/2014,] Officers contacted a Lindsey Kurtz, W/F 10/27/1984, at 907 N. Iowa, Olathe, Kansas and conducted a search and recovered the GPS Monitor. Mr. Knox was not located and Lindsey's 2003 Cadillac Deville was missing from the apartment parking lot. Lindsey only advised Knox left on foot and she had no idea where he would be. Lindsey advised her sister, Sidney Kurtz, had her Cadillac. Lindsey provided a telephone number of 660-528-0074 for Knox. Knox contacted Olathe Police Department at the time of Lindsey's interview and search of the apartment inquiring why officers were at the apartment looking for him. Knox called from the same telephone number as identified by Lindsey as belonging to Knox. Officers confirmed Sidney Kurtz did not have the Cadillac and that Knox was still in possession of the Cadillac.
. . .
4. On 01/22/2014, affiant contacted a previous girlfriend of Knox's, Cynthia McBee. She advised she and Knox broke up and no longer lived together. She advised that Knox had become violent with her lately and she had a Protection Order issued against him. She did advise he always carried a gun and had threatened her and her neighbor in December. He had also gone to her father's job in Kansas City, Missouri and threatened him and his employees with a gun. She said he always carries a pistol in his pants and has numerous weapons to include an AR15 assault type rifle and a Desert Eagle pistol. . . . She did provide two friends names of Michael Dupree Jr, and Alecia Young. Cynthia was able to identify both parties by Knox's Facebook posts that the officer provided.
. . .
6. On 01/28/2014, affiant was contacted by a source close to the investigation that Knox had obtained a new cell phone number of 660-525-2003. This officer attempted to contact the previous telephone number of 660-528-0074. It showed no longer in service and disconnected on 01/16/2014 by the telephone company.
. . .
8. On 01/30/2014, SA John Haugher had a federal order signed for cell phone tracking on telephone number 660-525-2003. The order was sent to T-Mobile and it was confirmed the phone account was active but not turned on. Investigators determined the phone was turned back on 02/01/2014 at 3pm. Phone records obtained show numerous calls to Lindsey Kurtz and Alecia Young that use the same numbers as investigators observed on Knox's previous phone's call log of 660-528-0074.
9. On 02/03/2014, technicians with the FBI were able to track the phone (660-525-3002) to the area of 431 Freeman, Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas. This is an apartment complex and apartments are individually numbered. A computer check had provided the address for an Alecia Young B/F 11/15/1986 at 431 Freeman Kansas City, Kansas. Officers were unable to keep surveillance on the apartment due to location and time of day.
10. On 02/06/2014, the phone (660-525-3002) " pings," within a range of 6 meters, at the building of 431 Freeman, Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas. A " ping" is a notification from TMobile
that the phone is active and on and provides a distance between the nearest cell phone tower and the phone. Officers confirmed with management for the complex that Alecia Young . . . does reside and is on the lease at 431 Freeman. . . . Also, located in the parking lot was the white Cadillac registered to Lindsey Kurtz . . . . Officers observed a black male with a red hoodie exit a building at the apartment complex of 431 Freeman to go out to start the Cadillac. A white female drove away alone in the vehicle. Officers were unable to identify the female leaving in the Cadillac.
11. T-Mobile notifies investigators when the " ping" location changes and as of 1:07 pm on 2/06/14, the phone remains at the same location previously identified as 431 Freeman, Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas. Jemel Knox has at least two felony warrants issued for his arrest at this time out of Johnson County District Court: 13CR2619 and 14CR151. Officers are seeking a search warrant to enter 431 Freeman, Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas to arrest Jemel Knox.
Based on this affidavit, a Johnson County District Court judge issued a warrant authorizing officers to search the apartment at 431 Freeman and to seize (1) the body of Defendant Jemel Knox, and (2) firearms. Detective Finley and other officers executed the warrant in the afternoon of February 6, 2014, the same day they had tracked Defendant's cell phone to the apartment. In the apartment, officers found and forcibly arrested ...