United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KATHLEEN KAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is a Motion to Suppress [doc. 29] filed by
defendant Marva Flenory. Through this motion she seeks to
suppress statements and physical evidence arising from a
vehicle stop. Her codefendant, Joseph Wilbon, adopts the
motion. Docs. 42, 43. A hearing was held on this matter
before the undersigned on August 17, 2017, after which the
parties submitted additional memoranda on a new basis for
suppression. Doc. 52; see docs. 53, 54, 57.
receiving that briefing we issued an initial Report and
Recommendation [doc. 58], recommending that the motion be
denied. Flenory and Wilbon both filed objections to that
report and recommendation. Docs. 59, 60. The case was
subsequently reassigned to Chief Judge S. Maurice Hicks, Jr.,
who issued an order referring the Report and Recommendation
to us for additional consideration. Doc. 63.
on Chief Judge Hicks's order, we have considered the
defendants' objections and reviewed the briefing and
hearing transcript already filed in this matter. For reasons
stated below, we RECOMMEND that the Motion
to Suppress [doc. 29, 43] be DENIED.
Flenory and Wilbon are each charged with one count of
possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance
and aiding and abetting each other in same, a violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) and 18 U.S.C.
§ 2. Doc. 14. Both the charges and the Motion to
Suppress relate to a traffic stop that occurred on June 8,
2016. Id.; see doc. 58, pp. 1-5 (background
section of initial report and recommendation). On that date,
at around 8:30 in the morning, Louisiana State Trooper Chris
Hill, who was on proactive patrol, saw a vehicle with
Pennsylvania plates traveling eastbound on I-10 near Lake
Charles, Louisiana. Doc. 29, att. 2, p. 5. He initiated a
stop after witnessing the vehicle fail to maintain its lane.
pulling the vehicle over Hill talked to the occupants, Wilbon
and Flenory, for a few minutes. During this time Wilbon stood
outside of the vehicle while Flenory remained in the
passenger seat. Flenory offered Hill details about her job
that he did not ask for and Wilbon attempted to give him his
medical card, required of commercial truck drivers, even
though he was not driving a commercial vehicle. See
doc. 29, att. 3, at 1:00-3:50. They also told him,
separately, about their travels - agreeing that they were
traveling from Houston back home to Pennsylvania after a
visit with Wilbon's cousin, but providing different
dates, over a week apart, when asked when they had arrived in
Houston. Id.; doc. 52, pp. 18-19. Additionally,
Flenory stated that they planned to stop in New Orleans, a
fact Wilbon failed to mention, but she did not have an
immediate answer about whether they would spend the night.
Doc. 29, att. 3, 2:43; see doc. 52, pp. 11-13,
returned to his vehicle to run checks of the defendants'
licenses and vehicle. See doc. 29, att. 3, 4:00. He
then walked back to Wilbon and asked him again about his
travel plans. Id. at 13:14. Wilbon confirmed that he
had been visiting his cousin and had arrived on Saturday.
Id. When Hill asked why Flenory had stated that they
arrived on Thursday, Wilbon gave an inaudible response
recorded in Hill's report as stating that “she did
not know what she was talking about.” Id. at
13:30; doc. 29, att. 2, p. 6.
returned to his vehicle again to receive the results of his
checks. He was told over the radio that Wilbon had a lengthy
arrest history, including, among others, multiple drug
charges, theft, and weapons charges, with the last occurrence
being a burglary arrest in 2014. Doc. 29, att. 3, 16:30. He
was also told that Flenory's history included multiple
arrests, though none explicitly related to drug activity,
with the last listed in 2006. Id. at 17:08.
Otherwise, the checks were clear, indicating no active
warrants, Be On the Lookouts, or indications that the vehicle
was stolen. See Id. at 17:22.
then returned to the couple and asked Wilbon to sign a
consent to search the vehicle, citing the inconsistencies in
their stories as basis for his suspicions. Id. at
21:34. Wilbon declined to give consent. Id. at
23:08. Hill asked Flenory to step out of the vehicle and
informed them that a K-9 unit would be coming to search for
drugs and that their consent was not required for this
search. Id. at 23:55; see doc. 29, att. 2,
p. 6. The K-9 sniff gave a positive alert to the presence of
narcotics in the vehicle and a search then revealed six
“brick like” packages inside a suitcase, with the
packages containing approximately 15.96 pounds of suspected
cocaine. Doc. 29, att. 2, pp. 6- 7; see doc. 29,
att. 3, 28:03. Wilbon and Flenory were handcuffed at the
scene and placed under arrest. Doc. 29, att. 2, p. 6; doc.
29, att. 3, 39:30. By her own admission in this motion,
Flenory made several incriminating statements while in
custody. Doc. 29, att. 1, p. 4.
filed the instant motion to suppress, adopted by Wilbon. She
argues that the traffic stop exceeded the limits imposed by
the Fourth Amendment, and that the physical evidence and
statements resulting from that stop should thus be excluded
from trial. Doc. 29, att. 1.
hearing was held on this motion before the undersigned, at
which Hill testified. Doc. 52. There he noted other factors,
aside from those listed in his report, which had contributed
to his suspicions. These included his experience working for
the state police and knowledge of I-10 from Houston as a
drug-trafficking corridor, his determination that I-10 did not
provide the most direct route back to Pennsylvania from
Houston; his belief that a five-day stay, based on
Wilbon's account, meant a quick turnaround on a
twenty-plus hour road trip; Wilbon's hesitation at naming
where his cousin lived; and the fact that Flenory stated they
were stopping in New Orleans, which Wilbon did not mention,
but did not have an immediate answer as to whether they would
stay the night. Id. at 11-13, 17-18, 27. Hill also
noted that, as he began to walk away from Flenory, she
attempted to continue the conversation by offering him more
details. Id. at 19. Hill stated that, based on his
training and experience, it was suspicious for people to
offer him information that he did not ask for and that he
believed that ...