United States District Court, S.D. Iowa, Central Division
For William Earl Gibson, III., also known as William Gibson, Jr, Defendant: Dean A Stowers, LEAD ATTORNEY, STOWERS & SARCONE PLC, West Des Moines, IA.
For USA, Plaintiff: Clifford D Wendel, LEAD ATTORNEY, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE - DSM, DES MOINES, IA; Craig P Gaumer, U S Attorney's Office, Des Moines, IA.
JAMES E. GRITZNER, Chief United States District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on Motion to Dismiss Indictment and Motion to Suppress by Defendant William Earl Gibson, III (Gibson). The Government resists. A hearing on the matter was conducted on December 16, 2013. Attorney Dean A. Stowers represented Gibson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig P. Gaumer represented the Government. The matter is fully submitted and ready for disposition.
In February 2013, Special Agent Phillip Pritchett (Special Agent Pritchett) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) received information that Gibson was in possession of illegal automatic weapons, which were located at the residence of Gibson's father in Dexter, Iowa. After discussing the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Cliff Wendel (AUSA Wendel), Special Agent Pritchett applied for and obtained a federal search warrant on February 26, 2013, to seize any illegal weapons located at the father's residence.
After the warrant was approved by Magistrate Judge Ross A. Walters, Special Agent Pritchett and AUSA Wendel had a conversation about the case in AUSA Wendel's office. AUSA Wendel expressed to Special Agent Pritchett that he just wanted to seize the guns and was not interested in prosecuting Gibson based on his lack of criminal history and only possessing a couple of automatic weapons.
On March 6, 2013, Special Agent Pritchett executed the search warrant. Special Agent Pritchett had been informed that Gibson had an anti-government sentiment and could potentially be hostile to law enforcement officers. To diffuse any potential tension that may have occurred when executing the search warrant, Special Agent Pritchett decided to approach Gibson away from his father's residence. Special Agent Pritchett had an officer with the Stuart, Iowa, Police Department place a phone call to Gibson to inform him that some of his mail had been stolen and he needed to come to the Stuart Police Department to retrieve his mail.
As Gibson arrived at the police station and exited his vehicle, Special Agent Pritchett observed Gibson pull a handgun from his waistband and place it under the driver's seat of his vehicle. Special Agent Pritchett, along with other ATF and local law enforcement officers, approached Gibson as he walked toward the police station and informed Gibson that they had a search warrant for Gibson's elderly father's residence. Special Agent Pritchett explained to Gibson that he wanted to make the search as quick as possible and he didn't want to upset Gibson or Gibson's ill father. Described as a tactic to prevent a potential hostile situation, Special Agent Pritchett told Gibson that so long as he was cooperative, the U.S. Attorney's Office was not interested in prosecuting him based on his lack of criminal history and only possessing two machine guns.
During the initial confrontation, Gibson proclaimed, " Oh, we're going to do this again," and informed Special Agent Pritchett that the ATF searched Gibson's father's home in the late 1970s and seized a number of machine guns, explosives, and hand grenades. Hrg. Tr. 14:10-14:23, ECF No. 39. Neither Gibson nor his father were prosecuted after the first occasion when the ATF seized weapons from Gibson's father's home, and Gibson didn't expect anything to happen on this occasion. On this record, the Court can conclude Special Agent Pritchett and ...