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United States v. Cade

United States District Court, D. Kansas

January 18, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KENNETH CADE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ERIC F. MELGREN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc. 60). Kenneth Cade argues that the affidavit supporting the search warrant for Janet Case's home contains statements obtained illegally, either through Cade's illegal arrest or Case's coerced interview. Although Cade's arrest was illegal, Case's statements were voluntary and the affidavit contains no material statements derived from Cade's arrest. Therefore, the affidavit incorporating those statements was legally able to establish probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant.[1] For those and the following reasons, the Court denies the Motion.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Kenneth Cade and Savannah Cole are charged with committing four armed robberies between November 2017 and February 2018. On February 15, 2018, detectives learned that Cade and Cole might be temporarily residing at Janet Case's home at 4315 E. Bayley. Officers immediately monitored the home for signs of Cade. After a short while, a red SUV arrived at the Bayley residence. Two people matching the descriptions of Cade and Cole exited the SUV and entered the home. The officers did not have a valid arrest warrant, so they attempted to obtain one. Their efforts were unsuccessful.

         Without an arrest warrant, ten officers approached the residence to do a “knock and talk, ” and to confirm the identity of Cade and Cole. It was evening and therefore dark outside. As the officers were approaching, Cole unexpectedly exited the home to empty the garbage. At this moment, Officer Boatright approached Cole, quickly requesting to ask her questions. The exchange was very brief. Without answering, Cole dashed back inside and quickly slammed the door. At roughly the same time the door shut, Officer Boatright shouted “stop.” Officer Boatright then kicked the door several times before backing away.

         At this point, the other officers had fully surrounded the residence. Cade's mother, Janet Case, opened the door and asked who was there. After seeing the officers, Case informed them that young children were inside the home. Case and one child exited the home, and officers escorted the child to the side. Officers then saw Cade and Cole inside the home through the open door. The officers commanded Cade and Cole at gunpoint to exit the home. Cade and Cole subsequently exited the residence and the officers arrested them.

         Case permitted the officers to do a protective sweep of the home. She then agreed to accompany them to the Wichita Police Department headquarters for an interview. At the police station, Case waited approximately ten minutes in an interview room before Detective Davis arrived to interview her. The detective interviewed Case for twenty minutes, during which she made incriminating statements about Cade and Cole. After the interview, Case waited for roughly forty-five minutes before an officer escorted her to her daughter's home.

         Cade seeks to suppress evidence gathered from Case's home on February 15 pursuant to a search warrant. Cade alleges that the officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him without a warrant, and his Fifth Amendment due process rights by coercing Case into giving an involuntary statement. Cade argues that statements obtained via these two methods supported the affidavit used to establish probable cause for the search warrant.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Exigent Circumstances

         Absent a warrant, or probable cause plus exigent circumstances, law enforcement officers cannot enter a home to arrest a suspected criminal.[2] The Parties do not dispute the presence of probable cause in this case. Generally, exigent circumstances arise when (1) the officers have reasonable grounds to believe that there is immediate need to protect their lives or the lives of others, or their property or that of others, (2) the search is not motivated by an intent to arrest and seize evidence, and (3) there is some reasonable basis, approaching probable cause, to associate an emergency with the place to be searched.[3] The Government bears the burden of establishing that exigent circumstances made the warrantless entry necessary.[4] Relevant to this case, the Government specifically alleges that three exigent circumstances existed: (1) an ongoing “hot pursuit;” (2) the chance of imminent destruction of evidence; and (3) a threat to officer safety.[5]

         B. Fifth Amendment Due Process

         Generally, a defendant cannot suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a warrant based on a third-party's statement.[6] However, in United States v. Gonzalez, [7] the Tenth Circuit permitted a defendant to challenge the voluntariness of a third-party's statement to police, because that statement potentially implicated the defendant's Fifth Amendment due process rights.[8]Specifically, a defendant's “due process rights would be implicated if the subject witness was coerced into making false statements and those statements were admitted against [the defendant] at trial.”[9] The court noted that a statement is involuntary if the government's actions caused the witness's will to be “overborne” and “his capacity for self-determination critically impaired.”[10]Courts determine whether a statement was freely and voluntarily given based on the totality of the circumstances.[11] The relevant circumstances embrace “both the characteristics of the accused and the details of the interrogation.”[12] Relevant factors include the suspect's age, intelligence, and education, the length of detention and questioning, the use or threat of physical punishment, whether Miranda warnings were given, the accused's physical and mental characteristics, the location of the interrogation, and the conduct of the police officers.[13]

         III. Analysis

         A. Exigent Circumstances

         1. Hot Pursuit

         The Court finds that the Government has not met its burden to prove Cole subjectively knew she was pursued by a law enforcement officer at the time she fled from the encounter with Officer Boatright. As such, the Government has failed to establish the exigent circumstance of “hot pursuit.” In United States v. Santana, [14] the Supreme Court applied the hot pursuit exigency when a suspect briefly exited her home, officers shouted at her, clearly identifying themselves, and the suspect recognized the officers and fled back into her home.[15] The court held that the suspect's doorway was a public place, and because the officers had probable cause, they were permitted to arrest her without a warrant.[16] The court stated that the suspect could not defeat an otherwise proper arrest that had been set in motion in a public place by retreating into her home.[17] In justifying this determination, the court focused on the fact that the suspect's rapid retreat into the home also created the exigent circumstance of destruction of evidence.[18]

         In this case, the Government argues that the hot pursuit exigency applies because of the brief encounter that Officer Boatright had with Cole when she stepped outside to empty the trash. However, the facts in this case differ from those in Santana. It is not clear that Cole knew that Officer Boatright was indeed a police officer when she was approached by him in the dark. The encounter occurred at night, in an area with limited lighting. The officers, including Officer Boatright, were dressed almost entirely in black. Although the officers wore vests with “POLICE” written on the front in white, the encounter with Cole was so brief, and so apparently and justifiably startling, that she reasonably may not have identified Officer Boatright in the dark, outside her home. Furthermore, the video evidence captured from the body cameras of multiple police officers indicates that no officer identified themselves to Cole. Officer Boatright shouted “stop” to Cole, but he did not otherwise identify himself as a law enforcement officer. Additionally, he shouted this as Cole shut the door, making it quite possible that she did not hear him. These circumstances show that it is ...


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