United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is the Motion to Suppress (Doc. 19) filed by
Defendant Jesse Sloane. The Government filed an opposition.
(Doc. 23). The Court conducted an evidentiary hearing. Both
parties subsequently filed post-hearing briefs. (Doc. 29,
30). For the reasons stated herein, the motion is DENIED.
January of 2018, William Sellers, an investigator with the
Louisiana State Police Special Victims' Unit, was
searching for individuals who were downloading and sharing
child pornography on the BitTorrent network. (Doc. 27 at p.
24). Sellers utilized a program called "Torrential
Downpour," which allows investigating officers to
conduct single source downloads. (Id. at p. 25).
January 21, 2018, Sellers downloaded approximately seventy
images depicting child pornography from a single IP address.
(Doc. 27 at p. 26, 44, 64). Sellers then consulted a public
website, the American Registry for Internet Numbers, which
matches IP addresses with service providers. (Id.).
Sellers determined that the IP address in question was
registered to Cox Communications. (Id. at p. 27).
Sellers then sent a subpoena to Cox requesting the subscriber
information for the time and date the IP address accessed the
images. Cox informed Sellers that the IP address belonged to
Defendant and provided him with Defendant's home address.
(Id. at p. 28).
testified that he conducted surveillance on the residence
five or six times, although he could not remember on what
days and at what times. Sellers did not conduct surveillance
on January 21, the day the images were downloaded.
(Id. at p. 47). During the surveillance, Sellers
observed a pickup truck at the residence that he determined
was registered to Defendant. (Id. at p. 28). Sellers
attempted to discern whether any other individuals lived with
Defendant, but he never observed anyone other than Defendant
going to or coming from the residence. (Id.)
March 13, 2018, Sellers requested a search warrant for the
residence. On March 14, 2018, at approximately 5:00 A.M., a
contingent often to fifteen state and local law enforcement
officers congregated at a staging area near the residence to
prepare to execute the search warrant. (Id. at p.
33). Trooper Malcolm Brown, who also worked for the Louisiana
State Police, was shown Defendant's driver's license
photograph. Afterwards, Brown parked his own unmarked vehicle
down the street from the residence for surveillance purposes.
(Id. at pp. 30-31).
the officers reviewed the operations plan in the staging
area, Brown alerted Sellers via radio that Defendant had
exited his residence, entered his vehicle, and was preparing
to leave the area. (Doc. 27 at p. 33). Sellers directed Brown
to follow Defendant and informed him that other officers
would arrive shortly. (Id. at p. 34). Sometime
before 6:30 A.M., Brown stopped Defendant's vehicle less
than half a mile from the residence and directed Defendant to
park in an adjacent lot. (Id. at p. 37).
eventually arrived at the scene of the traffic stop. (Doc. 27
at p. 36). He informed Defendant that law enforcement
officers were executing a search warrant of his home.
(Id. at p. 37, 55). He also informed Defendant that
he was not under arrest but that "he'd like
[Defendant] to return with him." Sellers did not tell
Defendant that he was required to return with him.
(Id. at p. 37). Sellers did not recall telling
Defendant that he had to leave his phone in the vehicle.
(Id. at p. 56). Defendant was not handcuffed when
Sellers spoke with him. (Id. at p. 37).
testified that Defendant agreed to accompany the officers
back to the residence. (Doc. 27 at p. 37). Sellers alleges
that he informed Defendant that the police officers would
secure Defendant's vehicle and that the police would give
Defendant a ride back to the residence. (Id.).
Sellers did not direct the police officers to handcuff
Defendant on the way back to the residence.
reaching the residence, Defendant informed Sellers that his
brother, James Nice, was living with him. (Id. at p.
38). Sellers testified that the officers had not known this
before executing the warrant. (Id.) The officers
then secured the residence and accompanied Defendant inside
for an interview. (Id.) Defendant, Sellers, and one
other officer entered a storage room in the residence for the
interview. Defendant was not restrained, not in handcuffs,
and was informed that he was still not under arrest.
(Id. at p. 39). The door to the storage room was
also not closed or barricaded to prevent exit. (Id.)
Defendant was advised of his Miranda rights and signed a
waiver of rights at 6:51 A.M. (Exhibit 1). During the
interview, Defendant admitted that he possessed child
pornography. Defendant now seeks to suppress this admission.
argues that the officers illegally stopped him; thus, under
the Fourth Amendment, the confession obtained at
Defendant's residence constitutes "fruit of the
poisonous tree." U.S v. Tovar, 719
F.3d 376, 387 (5th Cir. 2013) (holding that verbal statements
derived from an unauthorized seizure constitute "fruit
of the poisonous tree"). In the case of a warrantless
seizure, the Government bears the burden of proving, by a
preponderance of evidence, that the seizure was
Did the Stop Satisfy the Terry v. ...