Submitted: November 14, 2014.
Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.
For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Don Michael Green, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Kansas City, MO.
For Acie A. Evans, Defendant - Appellant: Anita L. Burns, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Public Defender's Office, Kansas City, MO.
Before BYE, SHEPHERD, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.
Acie Evans entered a conditional guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and was sentenced to 180 months imprisonment. Evans now appeals the district court's denial of his motion to suppress. In particular, Evans argues that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress a firearm recovered during an inventory search of his vehicle and later incriminating statements because police officers unlawfully towed his vehicle and conducted the inventory search with an investigatory motive. We affirm.
On the morning of September 4, 2012, Kansas City, Missouri police officers responded to a call of a rape in progress at a residence. After arriving and beginning an investigation, one officer observed a tan four-door car leave an apartment complex roughly 1,000 feet away from the residence. The car stopped at a stop sign about half a block from the residence and remained idle for 30 to 45 seconds, even though no other traffic was at the intersection. Meanwhile, crime scene investigators at the scene recovered a Missouri identification card on the ground by the window that the assailant had broken into to gain access to the residence. The identification card bore the name Acie Evans and contained a photograph of an African-American male. Officers then observed the same tan four-door car drive by the crime scene, traveling at a speed of less than five miles per hour. One officer identified the driver as the same man whose photograph appeared on the identification card. The officer memorized the license plate number, and another officer ran the plate through the department's system, revealing the car was registered to a Bobby
Evans. Because the last name on the registration matched the photograph on the identification card and the officer identified the driver as the man pictured on the identification card, officers decided to follow the car into the nearby apartment complex.
Arriving at the complex, the officers observed the car parked in front of one of the apartment buildings. The officers believed the driver had gone into that building, and went to speak with the apartment manager to determine if anyone named Evans was leasing a unit. The apartment manager indicated that no one by the name of Evans had leased any units but that an Acie Evans was listed as an emergency contact for one of the lessees. The apartment manager also remembered having shown an apartment to a man by the name Acie Evans before leasing it to its current occupant. While one officer spoke with the apartment manager, another entered the four-unit apartment building officers believed the driver had entered. Noticing that the door to one unit was partially open, the officer knocked on the door, and a man resembling the driver answered the door. The officer asked if he had any identification, and accompanied the man to his bedroom where he produced a Kansas identification card identifying him as Acie Evans. The officer conducted a computer check for outstanding warrants and discovered that Evans's license had been suspended. He then arrested Evans for driving without a license.
The officer informed other officers at the scene that he had arrested Evans and asked what should be done with Evans's vehicle. By this time, news crews were arriving at the location and the apartment manager wanted them to leave the private property. Officers informed the apartment manager that they believed they had a suspect in custody for the nearby rape and that Evans told the officers he resided in the unit, but the mother of his child had rented that apartment for him because an involuntary manslaughter conviction would have prevented him from ...