United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS, DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
EVIDENCE, AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS STATEMENTS
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Government has charged Defendant in connection with the 2008
homicide of a man in Aiken County, South Carolina. Pending
before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the
Indictment Based upon Pre-indictment Delay as a Violation of
Due Process and/or Rule 48 (Motion to Dismiss),
Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence from an Illegal
Search and Seizure Based upon Violation of the Fourth
Amendment (Motion to Suppress Evidence), and Defendant's
Motion to Suppress the Defendant's Statements (Motion to
Suppress Statements). Having carefully considered the
motions, the responses, the replies, the record, and the
applicable law, it is the judgment of the Court that
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be denied,
Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence will be denied,
and Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements will be
granted in part and denied in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case arises out of a homicide incident that occurred in Aiken
County, South Carolina on September 15, 2008. See
ECF No. 2. The factual and procedural history is extensive,
and the Court need not recite it in full. Rather, the Court
will recite only the facts and history relevant to the
motions discussed in this Order.
Court notes there is some conflicting evidence in the record,
and the Court determines the following facts by a
preponderance of the evidence. See United States v.
Matlock, 415 U.S. 164, 177 n.14 (1974) (“[T]he
controlling burden of proof at suppression hearings should
impose no greater burden than proof by a preponderance of the
evidence.” (citation omitted)); United States v.
Stevenson, 396 F.3d 538, 541 (4th Cir. 2005) (“In
the course of deciding a motion to suppress, the district
court may make findings of fact.”).
morning of September 15, 2008, Officer Franklin Ham (Officer
Ham) of the Richland County Sheriff's Office (RCSO)
received a dispatch call regarding a green Ford Taurus (Green
Vehicle) that was a few days overdue to be returned to U-Save
Auto Rental (U-Save) in Columbia, South Carolina. ECF Nos.
47-2 at 2-5, 47-9 at 3-8. The Green Vehicle had been rented
by Deidre King (Ms. King), Defendant's wife. ECF No. 48
at 4. Defendant was not listed as an authorized driver on the
rental agreement for the Vehicle. See ECF No. 55-1.
Officer Ham entered the Green Vehicle into the National Crime
Information Center database as a breach of trust vehicle. ECF
No. 47-2 at 5.
in the day on September 15, 2008, the manager at U-Save,
Jeffrey Day (Mr. Day), informed Officer Ham that the Global
Positioning System (GPS) tracking device on the Green Vehicle
indicated the Vehicle was located at 5520 North Main Street
(the Residence) in Columbia, South Carolina, which was
Defendant and Ms. King's residence. ECF Nos. 47-2 at 5,
48 at 5. Mr. Day further informed Officer Ham that he had
remotely disabled the Green Vehicle. ECF No. 47-2 at 5.
Ham traveled to the Residence, and, as he was pulling up to
the Residence, he saw a red Ford Taurus (Red Vehicle) pull
into the driveway and park behind the Green Vehicle.
Id. at 6-7. Officer Ham observed several people
standing in the yard of the Residence, including Defendant,
and he asked them where Defendant and Ms. King were.
Id. at 7-8, 13. When he received no response,
Officer Ham asked everyone in the yard for identification.
Id. at 8. Defendant initially refused to answer
Officer Ham, but he later identified himself as “Eric
Huey” and claimed he had a South Carolina driver's
license with that name. Id. at 8-9.
the driver of the Red Vehicle gave his license to Officer
Ham, Officer Ham determined it was suspended, and he placed
that individual under arrest for driving under suspension.
Id. at 8-10. Shortly thereafter, Officer Stephen
Dauway (Officer Dauway) of RCSO arrived at the Residence and
searched the Red Vehicle. ECF Nos. 47-3 at 4-6, 47-2 at
10-12. Officer Dauway found two firearms in the Red Vehicle.
ECF No. 47-2 at 11-12. After searching the Red Vehicle,
Officer Dauway conducted a warrantless search of the Green
Vehicle and discovered a plastic bag containing crack
cocaine. ECF Nos. 47-2 at 12, 47-3 at 7-8. Officer Dauway
then detained several men standing on the back stoop of the
Residence, including Defendant, for questioning. ECF Nos.
47-3 at 9, 48 at 6, 59 at 2.
Dauway called narcotics investigator Marcus Brown
(Investigator Brown) of RCSO, and Investigator Brown and
Investigator Taima Jordan (Investigator Jordan) of RCSO
arrived on scene at the Residence. ECF No. 47-4 at 4.
Investigator Brown questioned Defendant, and Defendant
expressed concern about picking his son up from the school
bus stop. Id. at 9-10. Investigator Brown told
Defendant they needed “to go ahead and take care of
this” and said they would try to call Defendant's
wife to pick up his child but, if not, they would call the
Department of Social Services (DSS) “to take control of
the child till we get the situation taken care of.”
Id. at 10. Investigator Brown then advised Defendant
of his Miranda rights, id., and Defendant
admitted one of the guns in the Red Vehicle and the cocaine
found in the Green Vehicle were his, id. at 13.
Brown subsequently called Investigator Robert Crane
(Investigator Crane) of the RCSO to prepare a search warrant
for the Residence. ECF Nos. 47-4 at 16, 47-5 at 4. The
Olympia Magistrate signed the search warrant, ECF No. 47-1,
and Investigator Crane delivered the search warrant to the
Residence, ECF No. 47-5 at 6. When Investigator Crane
delivered the search warrant, Investigator Jordan executed
it, ECF No. 47-6 at 3-4, and seized a number of items,
including cocaine and firearms, ECF No. 47-1 at 5.
searching the Residence, Investigator Jordan again advised
Defendant of his Miranda rights and questioned him.
ECF No. 47-6 at 8-10. Investigator Jordan informed Defendant
of the drugs and guns recovered during the search of the
Residence and told him he and Ms. King would both be charged
if nobody claimed the items. Id. at 10. Defendant
then stated the items were his. Id.
was convicted by a jury in South Carolina state court in 2012
of murder and related offenses arising out of a homicide that
occurred in Aiken County, South Carolina on September 15,
2008. ECF No. 44 at 1. On appeal, the South Carolina Court of
Appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of
Defendant's motion to suppress evidence found in the
Residence, holding the affidavit supporting the search
warrant for the Residence established probable cause for the
warrant. State v. Miller, No. 2014-UP-409, 2014 WL
6488693 (S.C. Ct. App. Nov. 19, 2014). The South Carolina
Supreme Court, however, held on March 30, 2016, that the
affidavit failed to establish probable cause for the warrant
and reversed Defendant's convictions. State v.
Miller, No. 2016-MO-009, 2016 WL 1244403 (S.C. Mar. 30,
August 16, 2017, the Government filed a three-count
indictment (Indictment) against Defendant arising out of the
2008 homicide in Aiken County. ECF No. 2. The Indictment
charges Defendant with use of a firearm causing death,
kidnapping resulting in death, and a drug conspiracy
resulting in death. Id.
was arraigned in federal court on August 17, 2017, and
entered a plea of not guilty. See ECF No. 12.
Attorney Allen Burnside was appointed to represent Defendant
on August 17, 2017, and attorney Jeffrey Bloom was appointed
as co-counsel for Defendant on August 18, 2017. See
ECF Nos. 15, 25. Also on August 18, 2018, the Government
provided notice it would decline to seek the death penalty
against Defendant. ECF No. 13.
Court held a pre-trial conference on September 27, 2017,
during which Defendant requested a continuance of two terms
and waived his statutory speedy trial rights. See
ECF No. 36. Defendant preserved any due process and speedy
trial rights he had under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and
the Court continued the case to its February/March term of
court. Id. At a pre-trial conference on February 6,
2018, Defendant and the Government requested the Court enter
a proposed scheduling order setting jury selection for August
7, 2018, and a jury trial to commence on August 8, 2018.
See ECF No. 42. Defendant again waived his statutory
speedy trial rights, and the Court entered the parties'
proposed scheduling order. ECF No. 43.
filed his Motion to Dismiss on February 9, 2018. ECF No. 44.
The Government responded, ECF No. 51, and Defendant replied,
ECF No. 53. Defendant filed his Motion to Suppress Evidence
on February 22, 2018, ECF No. 47, and he filed a supporting
memorandum the next day, ECF No. 48. The Government responded
to the Motion to Suppress Evidence, ECF No. 55, and Defendant
replied, ECF No. 58. On March 16, 2018, Defendant filed his
Motion to Suppress Statements, ECF No. 54, to which the
Government responded, ECF No. 59.
April 5, 2018, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Suppress Evidence, and Motion to
Suppress Statements, at which counsel for Defendant and the
Government were present. The Government presented testimony
from witnesses at the hearing, and the parties thoroughly
argued their positions. The Court, having been fully briefed
on the relevant issues, is now prepared to discuss the merits
of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Motion to Suppress
Evidence, and Motion to Suppress Statements.
MOTION TO DISMISS
Contentions of the Parties
argues the Indictment should be dismissed pursuant to the Due
Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment as a result of the
Government's nine year delay after the commission of the
alleged crime in filing the Indictment. Defendant avers the
“extraordinary” pre-indictment delay in this case
“violates fundamental concepts of justice.” ECF
No. 44 at 14. Defendant insists the Government's failure
to violate any statute of limitations is not determinative,
especially because there is no statute of limitations
applicable to the charges in the Indictment. Defendant posits
the Government has no legitimate reason for the substantial
pre-indictment delay. Additionally, Defendant urges that
Federal Criminal Procedure Rule 48(b) is an embodiment of the
Court's inherent authority to dismiss cases and provides
supplemental authority for the Court to dismiss the
Government opposes Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and
insists it would be improper to dismiss the Indictment.
Standard of Review
statutes of limitations serve as the “primary guarantee
against bringing overly stale criminal charges, ”
United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 322 (1971)
(quoting United States v. Ewell, 383 U.S. 116, 122
(1966)), there are circumstances under which delay in
bringing an indictment can violate the Due Process Clause of
the Fifth Amendment despite compliance with the applicable
statute of limitations. United States v. Lovasco,
431 U.S. 783, 789 (1977).
must conduct a two-pronged inquiry when determining whether
pre-indictment delay in a particular case violated a
defendant's right to due process. United States v.
Uribe-Rios, 558 F.3d 347, 358 (4th Cir. 2009). First, a
court must determine the threshold issue of whether the
defendant proved he suffered actual and substantial prejudice
as a result of the delay, which is a heavy burden. United
States v. Lopez, 860 F.3d 201, 213 (4th Cir. 2017);
Uribe-Rios, 558 F.3d at 358. To satisfy this prong,
the defendant must show the pre-indictment delay
“meaningfully impaired his ability to defend against
the [prosecution's] charges to such an extent that the
disposition of the criminal proceeding was likely
affected.” Jones v. Angelone, 94 F.3d 900, 907
(4th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted).
if the defendant meets the threshold requirement of proving
actual prejudice, the court then must consider the
government's reasons for the delay, “balancing the
prejudice to the defendant with the Government's
justification for delay.” Uribe-Rios, 558 F.3d
at 358 (quoting United States v. Automated Med. Labs.,
Inc., 770 F.2d 399, 404 (4th Cir. 1986)). The basic
inquiry in this second prong is “whether the
Government's action in prosecuting after substantial
delay violates ‘fundamental conceptions of justice'
or ‘the community's sense of fair play and
decency.'” Id. (quoting Automated Med.
Labs., 770 F.2d at 404).
Criminal Procedure Rule 48(b) provides: “The court may
dismiss an indictment, information, or compliant if
unnecessary delay occurs in: (1) presenting a charge to a
grand jury; (2) filing an information ...