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United States v. Marin

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

September 19, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RAUL FLORES MARIN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge

         This matter is before me on a Report and Recommendation (R&R) (Doc. No. 40) in which the Honorable Kelly K.E. Mahoney, Chief United States Magistrate Judge, recommends that I deny defendant's motion (Doc. No. 28) to suppress based on a July 19, 2017, traffic stop and grant in part and deny in part defendant's motion (Doc. No. 26) relating to his March 1, 2018, arrest. She recommends that I grant that motion (Doc. No. 26) only to the extent that the Government has conceded some evidence should be suppressed. Defendant Raul Flores Marin (Marin) filed timely objections (Doc. No. 51) on August 27, 2018, and the Government filed a resistance (Doc. No. 52) on September 2, 2018.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         On February 21, 2018, the grand jury returned an indictment (Doc. No. 2) charging Marin with one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B) and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). On April 27, 2018, Marin filed a motion (Doc. No. 26) to suppress statements made in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) and a motion (Doc. No. 28) to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a traffic stop on July 19, 2017. The Government filed a resistance (Doc. No. 30) to both motions on May 3, 2018. Judge Mahoney held a hearing on May 30, 2018. At the hearing, the Government presented testimony from three law enforcement officers. Doc. No. 36. Judge Mahoney admitted 16 Government exhibits, including video footage of the July 19, 2017, traffic stop. She also admitted one defense exhibit. Id. Following the hearing, the parties submitted supplemental briefing regarding the seizure of evidence from Marin's vehicle after his arrest on March 1, 2018. Doc. Nos. 38, 39.

         Judge Mahoney issued her R&R (Doc. No. 40) on July 26, 2018. Marin filed his objections (Doc. No. 51) on August 27, 2018. Trial is scheduled to begin November 5, 2018. See Doc. No. 44.

         B. Relevant Facts

         Judge Mahoney summarized the following relevant facts in her R&R based on the exhibits and testimony presented during the suppression hearing:

         A. July 19, 2017

Sometime after 2:40 a.m. on July 19, 2017, the Osceola County, Iowa Sheriff's Office received an emergency call from Jerry Sievert.[1]Sievert reported a suspicious vehicle, a pickup truck with Minnesota plates, parked in the middle of his yard. He said that he did not know who it was and that nobody had gotten out of the vehicle yet, but they were backing up further onto his property. Ex. 1A. Dispatch sent Deputy Edwards to investigate. Dispatch first provided the incorrect address, a location in the small town of Sibley, Iowa, within minutes of the Sheriff's Office, and Deputy Edwards arrived at the incorrect address around 2:48 a.m. When Deputy Edwards learned that the reporting party was Sievert, he knew the location of the residence (approximately six to seven miles away), as he had been to Sievert's residence in rural Osceola County a few weeks before to investigate another report of a suspicious vehicle. Deputy Edwards also knew that around a month ago, Sievert had reported a burglary of firearms and ammunition from his residence during the daytime.
Deputy Edwards headed to Sievert's residence. He could have taken one of two roads to get to Sievert's residence from town, and he chose to take Nettle Avenue, a gravel road that, like all gravel roads that I am aware of, did not have marked lanes. At 2:53 a.m., when he was still about two miles away from Sievert's residence, Deputy Edwards encountered a Ford F-150 truck traveling northbound on Nettle Avenue (away from the location of the Sievert residence) as he drove southbound (toward the Sievert residence). It was the first vehicle Deputy Edwards had encountered since leaving the Sheriff's Office. As the truck passed, Deputy Edwards slowed and noted it had Minnesota plates. Because the vehicle matched the description of the one Sievert had reported, Deputy Edwards turned around to follow the truck. Deputy Edwards testified that shortly after he began following the truck, it veered onto the left-hand side of the gravel road, almost into the ditch (the dash-camera video is too far away and dark to clearly capture whether the truck was in any danger of leaving the road, although the truck does appear to be traveling on the left-hand side of the road (Ex. 9, 2:53:45-2:54:13)). When Deputy Edwards caught up to the truck (about a mile away from when he first saw the truck), he initiated a traffic stop using his flashing lights. He radioed dispatch Marin's license plate number to run a search.
Deputy Edwards approached the truck and asked the driver, later identified as Marin, what he was up to. Ex. 9, 2:54:48. Marin responded that he was looking for his friend Clint who had sold him a trailer, and he needed the title (although Deputy Edwards misunderstood and believed Marin had been looking for the trailer itself). Deputy Edwards requested Marin's driver's license, registration, and insurance and asked Marin to accompany him to his squad car. As Marin was walking to the car, Deputy Edwards asked if Marin had any knives or guns on his person, and Marin responded (jokingly) something to the effect of “not unless you give me yours.” Ex. 9, 2:57:59. Deputy Edwards asked again if Marin had any weapons, and Marin responded in the negative. Deputy Edwards requested to pat Marin down, and after he had patted both of Marin's pockets and was checking lower on his person, Marin told him that he had a Swiss army knife in his pocket (which Deputy Edwards confiscated along with a lighter).
Once they were in the squad car, Marin asked what Deputy Edwards was doing on Nettle Avenue, as there were not usually law enforcement officers around. Ex. 9, 2:59:40. Deputy Edwards told Marin that he had been called in as a suspicious vehicle when he had been looking for the trailer at the house “back there.” Ex. 9, 3:00:04. Marin clarified that he had been looking for the title to the trailer, not the trailer itself. Deputy Edwards responded that either way, Marin had been on Sievert's property when he was not supposed to be, and Sievert had called the Sheriff's Office and given a description of Marin's vehicle.
Around this time, dispatch informed Deputy Edwards that the burglary alarm at a local gas station had been triggered. Because Deputy Edwards was otherwise occupied with Marin and the only officer on duty, he told dispatch to call Deputy Julius to respond to the alarm. Deputy Edwards testified that he recommended dispatch contact Deputy Julius because he is a certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), and Deputy Edwards believed Marin may have been impaired based on his observations of Marin and his excited and fast speech. Deputy Edwards asked Marin about past and current drug use, and Marin admitted to using marijuana once many years ago, but he denied any other drug use. Deputy Edwards then obtained Marin's consent to take his pulse. Marin indicated he suffered from high blood pressure, so Deputy Edwards asked Marin his typical heart rate. Marin said that three years ago, it had been 180 to 190 beats per minute, but he now took medication. Deputy Edwards informed Marin that he had measured his pulse at 120 to 125 beats per minute, and Marin said it was usually higher, around 140 to 145 beats per minute.
Deputy Edwards told Marin that he had seen him “going off to the left side of the road” earlier. Ex. 9, 3:09:20. Marin explained that he had been “scared of the cop.” Deputy Edwards asked if Marin had thrown something out of the front driver-side window and into the left-side ditch. Marin said no and that the first thing he did when he noticed the squad car following him was to check his speed. Deputy Edwards radioed Deputy Julius for assistance and told Marin that because his pulse was high, he had called a drug recognition expert to the scene to ensure Marin was not intoxicated. While Deputy Edwards waited for Deputy Julius to arrive, he moved Marin to the back of the squad car to wait and talked further with Marin about Sievert and the trailer. Marin indicated he was unsure why Sievert had reported him as a suspicious vehicle because he had been to the residence several times before. At some point, Deputy Edwards shut his vehicle off because he was low on gas and worried about running out (although he ensured that the dashboard camera was still recording).
When Deputy Julius arrived (about twenty minutes after Deputy Edwards had radioed him and thirty-five minutes after the initial stop), one of the first things he asked Marin was whether he had anything illegal in his vehicle. Marin said he had a loaded handgun in the backseat under an article of clothing. Deputy Julius found the firearm where Marin had said it would be (at the same time, Deputy Edwards checked under the passenger seat for firearms and recovered nothing). Deputy Julius checked the serial number of the firearm to see if it was stolen (it was not). Deputy Edwards asked Marin whether he had a permit to carry the firearm, and he did not. Deputy Edwards placed Marin under arrest and took him to jail.
Deputy Julius stayed at the scene with Marin's vehicle and waited for a tow truck. Deputy Julius began the inventory process and found methamphetamine, a large amount of cash ($1, 240), and cell phones. The tow truck arrived and took Marin's vehicle to a secure garage, where Deputy Julius completed the inventory. See Ex. 6, Doc. 33-4.
B. March 1, 2018
Agent Elsing stopped Marin while he was driving on March 1, 2018, and arrested him pursuant to a warrant. He seized phones and other evidence from Marin's vehicle after his arrest. Prior to reading his Miranda rights, Agent Elsing asked Marin whether he had any drugs at his house. Marin said that he had a methamphetamine pipe in his barn. Based on this statement, Agent Elsing obtained a search warrant for Marin's barn and residence. ...

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