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United States v. Kelley

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

December 3, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DARYON D. KELLEY

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Karen L. Hayes United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the undersigned Magistrate Judge, on reference from the District Court, is a motion to suppress filed by Defendant Daryon D. Kelley. [doc. # 27]. For reasons explained below, it is recommended that the motion be DENIED.

         Background [1]

         On October 2, 2017, Sergeant Matthew Downhour ("Sgt. Downhour") of the West Monroe Police Department observed a 2014 Chevy Impala drive through an intersection at approximately 10 to 15 miles per hour, without stopping at the stop sign. He conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle and made contact with the driver, Defendant Daryon D. Kelley. Defendant informed Sgt. Downhour that he had no identification on his person, but stated his name was Victor G. Kelley, his date of birth was July 1, 1992, and he was driving a rental vehicle, which he had permission to drive.

         Defendant provided Sgt. Downhour with the rental agreement, which listed Charles Langford as the renter of the vehicle. (See Ex. 1, [doc. # 35-1]). Victor Kelley was not listed as an authorized driver. Sgt. Downhour tried to contact Langford, but he did not answer his phone.[2] Sgt. Downhour also contacted the manager at the rental car agency who confirmed Victor Kelley was not an authorized driver of the vehicle.

         Sgt. Downhour used his mobile data terminal to look up a picture of Victor Kelley and determined that the man driving the vehicle did not match the picture. He then called for backup, and Sergeant Robert Ellis ("Sgt. Ellis") arrived at the scene to assist Sgt. Downhour. Sgt. Downhour arrested Defendant for failing to identify himself and for not having a driver's license in his possession. When the officers opened the door to the Impala and Defendant stepped out, Sgt. Downhour smelled burnt marijuana on Defendant and coming from the vehicle. Sgt. Downhour read Defendant his Miranda rights and placed him in his patrol car. He then searched the vehicle and found a fully loaded Ruger LC9 9mm pistol, $10, 400.00 in cash, and a cigar package containing one partially smoked marijuana cigar in the center armrest compartment. Defendant denied knowledge of the items found in the center console. When asked about his name, Defendant continued to insist he was Victor Kelley.

         Sgt. Downhour transported Defendant to the West Monroe Correctional Center, and once there, Defendant provided his correct personal information. It was discovered that Defendant is a convicted felon and that there was a warrant for his arrest. While Defendant was being booked, Sgt. Downhour continued asking him questions. Defendant denied knowledge of the firearm in the vehicle but told Sgt. Downhour that all he had was a little blunt and that it is not illegal to have a gun and money.

         On June 27, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Defendant on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). [doc. # 1].

         On October 16, 2018, Defendant filed the instant motion to suppress evidence seized and statements obtained from him by the Government. Defendant claims Sgt. Downhour had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe a traffic offense had been committed in order to stop and search the car Defendant was driving. Defendant also claims the statements he made following his arrest should be suppressed because they were not voluntary or elicited pursuant to a valid Miranda waiver, [doc. # 27].

         On October 30, 2018, the Government filed its response claiming Sgt. Downhour had probable cause to conduct the traffic stop, arrest Defendant, and search the vehicle, and that Defendant's post-arrest statements were obtained pursuant to a voluntary Miranda waiver, [doc. #30].

         A suppression hearing took place on November 14, 2018, with testimony from Sgt. Downhour, Sgt. Ellis, and Charles Langford. The matter is ripe.

         Standard of Law

         The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const, amend. IV. The protections of the Fourth Amendment extend to the states ...


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