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United States v. Hayes

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

November 30, 2018

United States of America,
Jeremy Lamar Hayes, Defendant.


          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Jeremy Lamar Hayes's “Motion to Dismiss Counts 3, 5, 7, and 9, ” “Motion for Jackson v. Denno Hearing, ” and “Motion to Suppress General Warrant.” See ECF Nos. 48, 54, & 56. The Court held a hearing on November 15, 2018, and took the motions under advisement.


         Defendant is charged in a ten-count indictment with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Count One), Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a) and 2 (Counts Two, Four, Six, and Eight), using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Counts Three, Five, Seven, and Nine), and possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count 10).[1] See ECF No. 2 (indictment). These charges stem from alleged robberies of several businesses in Horry County, South Carolina during January 2018.[2]

         On July 31, 2018, Defendant filed a “Motion to Dismiss Counts 3, 5, 7, and 9.” See ECF No. 48. On August 18, 2018, Defendant filed a “Motion for Jackson v. Denno Hearing.” See ECF No. 54. On August 20, 2018, Defendant filed a “Motion to Suppress General Warrant.” See ECF No. 56. The Government filed responses in opposition to the motions. See ECF Nos. 58-60. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on November 15, 2018, heard testimony from four law enforcement officers, [3] took the motions under advisement, and permitted the parties to submit supplemental briefing on the issues raised at the hearing.[4] Thereafter, Defendant filed a response in support of his Denno motion, see ECF No. 72, and the Government filed a response in support of its prior responses. See ECF No. 75.


         The Court will address Defendant's three motions in turn.

         I. Motion for Jackson v. Denno Hearing (Statements to Law Enforcement)

         Pursuant to Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368 (1964), Defendant asks the Court to determine the whether his post-arrest statements to law enforcement were knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. See ECF No. 54.

         A. Applicable Law

         Under the Fifth Amendment, “[n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself . . . without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend V. A defendant's statement is “involuntary under the Fifth Amendment only if it is ‘involuntary' within the meaning of the Due Process Clause.” United States v. Braxton, 112 F.3d 777, 780 (4th Cir. 1997) (en banc) (citing Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 304 (1985)). A court must assess a voluntariness issue by examining the “totality of the circumstances, ” including the “characteristics of the defendant, the setting of the interview, and the details of the interrogation.” United States v. Pelton, 835 F.2d 1067, 1071 (4th Cir. 1987) (citing United States v. Wertz, 625 F.2d 1128, 1134 (4th Cir.1980)). Under the totality of the circumstances, a statement is involuntary if the accused's will was “overborne” or his “capacity for self-determination critically impaired.” Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 225 (1973); see United States v. Byers, 649 F.3d 197, 215 (4th Cir. 2011) (“In considering the voluntariness of a statement under the Due Process Clause, [a court] must determine whether the confession was extracted by any sort of threats or violence, or obtained by any direct or implied promises, however slight, or by the exertion of any improper influence.” (internal quotation marks and original brackets omitted)). “In evaluating whether a defendant's will has been overborne, ” a court should consider “the youth of the accused, his lack of education, or his low intelligence, the lack of any advice to the accused of his constitutional rights, the length of detention, the repeated and prolonged nature of the questioning, and the use of physical punishment such as the deprivation of food or sleep.” United States v. Abu Ali, 528 F.3d 210, 232 (4th Cir. 2008). “[C]oercive police activity is a necessary predicate to the finding that a confession is not ‘voluntary' within the meaning of the Due Process Clause.” Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167 (1986).

         “In Miranda v. Arizona, [5] the [Supreme] Court determined that the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments' prohibition against compelled self-incrimination required that custodial interrogation be preceded by advice to the putative defendant that he has the right to remain silent and also the right to the presence of an attorney.” Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 481-82 (1981). When an “accused indicates that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease. If he requests counsel, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.Id. at 482 (internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis added). An accused who has invoked his rights to silence and counsel may, however, validly waive those rights. If an accused invokes his right to counsel, a court “may admit his responses to further questioning only on finding that he (a) initiated further discussions with the police, and (b) knowingly and intelligently waived the right he had invoked.” United States v. Cummings, 937 F.2d 941, 946 (4th Cir. 1991) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         B. Analysis

         The evidence presented at the hearing showed Defendant made four statements to law enforcement in January and February 2018: one on January 31, two on February 1, and one on February 2. The statements were made in connection with multiple alleged robberies that law enforcement from Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, and Horry County were investigating, and they occurred after Defendant's arrest while he was in police custody.

         1. First Statement (January 31)

         Defendant gave his first statement to Lieutenant Tony Allen of the Myrtle Beach Police Department (“MBPD”) during an interview on January 31, 2018. The Government submitted an audio recording of this interview, which the Court has reviewed. The interview primarily concerned an alleged robbery of Royal Cleaners on January 29, 2018, and an alleged robbery of Pizza Hut on January 30, 2018.

         Based on the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds Defendant's January 31 statement was voluntary. According to the credible testimony of Lieutenant Allen, Defendant gave the statement during the afternoon (3:37 P.M.) in an interview room located inside the MBPD headquarters. Defendant, Lieutenant Allen, and another police officer (Cameron Warren) were present, and the interview lasted approximately fifty minutes. Defendant's handcuffs were removed, and there is no indication that he suffered any physical discomfort during the interview. Defendant is a high school graduate, was not intoxicated, understood English and the officers' questions, and was able to answer the questions. Lieutenant Allen and the other officer did not bring their firearms into the interview room, and they did not use any coercive tactics, violence, improper threats, or promises to elicit Defendant's responses to their questions. At the beginning of the interview, Defendant was fully advised of his Miranda rights and signed a form confirming his understanding of those rights. The Court has listened to the interview, and Defendant sounds calm, comfortable, and relaxed. Significantly, at 47:29 on the recording, Defendant states, “I'd like to have a lawyer present, ” and Lieutenant Allen immediately ceases further questioning and tells Defendant he will not talk to him again unless Defendant asks to speak to him. Given the totality of these circumstances, the Court concludes Defendant's January 31, 2018 statement was knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made.

         2. Second & Third Statements (February 1)

         Defendant made two statements to law enforcement on February 1, 2018: (1) a statement to Corporal Wilson James of the Surfside Beach Police Department relating to an alleged robbery of Peggy's Antique Store on January 28, 2018, and (2) a statement to Detective Cory Dulina of the Horry County Police Department relating to an alleged robbery of Domino's Pizza (and alleged robberies of Walmart and Lowe's Home Improvement, which are not at issue in this case). The Government submitted audio and video recordings of both interviews.

         As indicated above, Defendant invoked his right to counsel during his January 31 interview with Lieutenant Allen, who then immediately stopped interviewing Defendant. Both Corporal James and Detective Dulina testified they knew Defendant had asked for an attorney (i.e., exercised his right to counsel) before interviewing him.[6] Additionally, both ...

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