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United States v. Muhammed

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 17, 2013

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Muhammed Hussain Muhammed et al., Defendants.


DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Defendant Muhammed Hussain Muhammed has been indicted on 34 counts, including conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). Doc. 167. Defendant has filed a motion to suppress statements made to law enforcement officers on July 7, 2010, and October 25, 2012. Doc. 311. The motion is fully briefed and no hearing has been requested. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendant's motion.

I. Background.

The government alleges that Defendant led a group that committed violent armed robberies of marijuana traffickers and arranged for the transportation, distribution, and sale of marijuana in Illinois, Minnesota, and Georgia. Doc. 331 at 2. The statements at issue in this motion were made by Defendant during four interactions with law enforcement officers.

A. July 2, 2010, at La Quinta Hotel.

On July 2, 2010, Defendant was in a room with Dominic Chatman, Robert Barber, Charles Smith, and Ashlea Staugh at a La Quinta hotel in Bloomington, Indiana. Four officers from the Bloomington Police Department monitored the hotel for narcotics trafficking, and the room occupied by Defendant and others attracted their attention. The officers detected the scent of marijuana and heard the sound of an aerosol sprayer when standing outside the room. The officers knocked, and Staugh, whose name appeared on the guest registry, opened the door. The officers identified themselves, explained why they had come to her room, and asked to enter. Staugh consented. When the officers entered the room, they again detected the odor of raw marijuana. The officers addressed the occupants of the room collectively and asked whether there was marijuana in the room. Defendant said there was a small amount, and another of the occupants pulled two bags of marijuana from his pocket. When the officer asked for consent to search the room, Defendant allegedly said there was no need. The officers asked about duffle bags and a garbage bag located near one of the beds, and Defendant allegedly said "he knew he shouldn't have let that guy leave those bags there." When the officers asked if the group had a vehicle, Defendant responded that they had a black suburban in the parking lot rented from the airport under his name. The officers directly addressed Staugh and asked for consent to search the room, but she said no. The officers detained the occupants of the hotel room, obtained a warrant to search the room, and ultimately arrested all five occupants.

B. July 2, 2010, at Police Station.

Later that evening, two officers recorded an interview of Defendant at the Bloomington police station. The officers asked Defendant to give his height, birthday, and place of residence, and engaged in innocuous pre- Miranda banter about cars and the weather in their home cities. The officers also asked Defendant if he had rented the car found at the hotel in his own name.

Following a Miranda warning, Defendant said "I got a lawyer." The officers asked whether Defendant would be willing to waive his Miranda rights, and Defendant suggested that he might if he could receive early release. When the officers told Defendant that they were unsure what effect his waiver would have on his release, Defendant said he would rather have his attorney present for any questioning. The officers said they would stop the questioning and proceeded to ask questions they said were necessary to process Defendant. The officers asked Defendant how much money he had on his person, how much money he had in the hotel room, whether $2, 500 found in the hotel room belonged to him, the location of Defendant's money in the room, the kind of pants the money was in, and which duffle bag in the room belonged to Defendant.

C. October 25, 2012, at Defendant's Home.

On October 25, 2012, federal agents executed search and arrest warrants at Defendant's residence. After the residence was secured, ATF Special Agent ("SA") Moran spoke with Defendant to explain what was happening. SA Moran asked Defendant a series of questions to evaluate whether the ATF caused any unnecessary damage when entering the home and executing the warrants. Defendant responded to these questions. Defendant then uttered under his breath that he was glad he did not grab his "gauge, " referring to a shotgun.

D. October 25, 2012, at Police Station.

Later that evening, Defendant was interviewed at a police station. He was handcuffed by one hand to a table in the interview room. Before the interview began and while he was alone in the room, Defendant yelled statements such as "Alright family, you're all good, " "Everybody hold it down, hold it down, " and "Hey Sharay, you're good." When Detective Westover entered the interview room, and before any questioning, Defendant said that his family could hear him. Defendant then said "I know, you gotta figure out what's going on and then come to me and hit me with all the [expletive]." Defendant asked how many people had been arrested and if the police had people from the high school too or the bakery shop on Cave Creek. Defendant then yelled out again, "You're all good." Westover still had not spoken to Defendant.

Detective Westover left briefly, but reentered the room and talked to Defendant about his arrest and answered questions about his family and girlfriend. Detective Westover then read Defendant his Miranda rights, to which Defendant responded "Yeah, and I would like to speak to an attorney." Detective Westover nevertheless continued to converse with Defendant and offered to answer any questions. Detective Westover informed Defendant of the charges he faced and that ...

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