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United States v. Gladney

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

August 23, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MARLON L. GLADNEY

          FOOTE JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Mark L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         Introduction

         Marlon Gladney (“Defendant”) is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence seized from him as well as statements he made during and after a traffic stop. Doc. 26. For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that the motion to suppress be denied.

         Facts

         An evidentiary hearing was held on Defendant's motion on July 27, 2018. The evidence at the hearing, and the video of the traffic stop, establishes the following facts. On October 27, 2017, the DEA asked the Louisiana State Police to watch out for Defendant's car because the DEA believed that Defendant may be transporting narcotics from Texas into Louisiana. DEA wanted Defendant's car stopped if independent probable cause was developed for the stop.

         Trooper Matthew Titus parked on the left shoulder of the eastbound lanes of I-20 just west of the rest area and welcome center near the Louisiana/Texas border. When Defendant's car passed Titus, the trooper pulled onto the interstate to follow Defendant. However, Defendant quickly pulled into the nearby rest area and stopped. Titus continued eastbound, just beyond the rest area, and parked on the right hand shoulder of the interstate.

         A light bar was located on the roof of Titus' patrol vehicle. Titus activated the light bar in such a manner that the lights blinked sequentially in a right to left fashion, indicating to approaching vehicles that they should move from the right lane into the left lane. Govt. Ex. 1 (video of similar light bar). Titus referred to this light as his “directional arrow.”

         Defendant left the rest area and began traveling east bound again in the right lane. He failed to move over to the left lane when he passed Titus' patrol car. Titus then initiated a traffic stop (at mile marker 4) for Defendant's failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

         Trooper Titus approached Defendant (the sole occupant of the car) and explained the purpose for the traffic stop (violating the “move over law”). Titus asked for Defendant's driver's license. Defendant produced a Louisiana driver's license, but that license had expired several years earlier. Defendant stated that he had previously been unable to renew his license because of his child support obligations, but he was on his way to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Bossier City to obtain a valid license. Defendant reported that he currently lived in Dallas, Texas.

         Defendant also produced his vehicle's registration and told Titus that the car was registered to his daughter, who lived in Springhill, Louisiana. Trooper Titus reported that Defendant seemed very nervous during their exchange and would not maintain eye contact.

         Trooper Titus returned to his patrol vehicle and began to research Defendant's license and criminal history. He learned that the license was not only expired, but suspended. During this process, Titus learned that Defendant had multiple narcotics arrests and a felony conviction for aggravated second-degree battery. Trooper Titus was already suspicious of criminal activity because of Defendant's travel itinerary (traveling from his home in Dallas to renew a license in Bossier City) and third party ownership of the vehicle. Because Defendant had a history as a violent felon, Titus called for backup.

         After about four minutes of research, Trooper Titus returned to Defendant and asked him to step out of the car. Trooper Titus informed Defendant that his license was suspended and asked if someone could come pick up the car and him. Defendant said he could get someone to do that. Otherwise, Titus testified that he would have to have the car towed.

         Titus then told Defendant that I-20 was a “bad road” and asked Defendant if he had drugs, large amounts of money, or weapons in the car. Defendant responded that there was a pistol under the front seat. Defendant admitted to Trooper ...


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