United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND
DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Government charged Defendant Marelle Tyrece Windham (Windham)
in a four-count indictment involving various narcotics and
firearm crimes. Pending before the Court is Windham's
motion to suppress evidence from two traffic stops in or
around Hartsville, South Carolina (motion to suppress).
Windham is represented by counsel. Having carefully
considered the motion, the response, oral argument, the
record, and the applicable law, it is the judgment of the
Court Windham's motion to suppress will be granted in
part and denied in part.
case arises out of two traffic stops conducted by Hartsville
Police Department officers. The first stop occurred on March
9, 2017 (first stop), and the second stop occurred on March
15, 2018 (second stop).
August 28, 2018, the Government filed a four-count indictment
against Windham. ECF No. 3. Count One, which arises out of
the first stop and subsequent arrest, charged Windham with
being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Counts Two through Four arise out of the second stop and
subsequent arrest. Count Two charged Windham with being a
felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Count Three
charged Windham with possession of narcotics (cocaine base)
with the intent to distribute. And Count Four charged Windham
with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
November 9, 2018, Windham filed his motion to suppress. ECF
No. 35. On December 17, 2018, the Government filed its
response. ECF No. 39. On January 3, 2019, the Court held a
hearing (motion hearing) on Windham's motion to suppress.
Counsel for the Government and Windham made arguments and the
officers who conducted both traffic stops offered testimony.
ECF No. 41. The Government introduced video evidence from
dash cameras and body cameras of both stops, as well as a
series of maps detailing where each stop took place. ECF No.
asserts four grounds why his statement and physical evidence
from the first stop should be suppressed. Windham avers the
officer lacked probable cause, failed to timely provide
Miranda warnings, lacked territorial jurisdiction,
and the evidence is not otherwise admissible under the
“inevitable discovery” doctrine. With respect to
the second stop, Windham avows the officer lacked probable
cause and was outside of his jurisdiction.
conclusion of the motion hearing, the Court denied
Windham's motion to suppress as to the second stop in its
entirety. With respect to the first stop, as fully detailed
below, the Court denied in part Windham's motion to
suppress; and it took a portion of Windham's motion to
suppress under advisement.
FINDINGS OF FACT
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. . . .”).
first stop occurred on March 9, 2017, after Hartsville Police
Officer Curtis (Curtis) observed a white sedan with extremely
dark tint driving down Russell Road. ECF No. 39 at 2. Curtis
turned his patrol car around and, while pursuing the sedan to
investigate the window tint, observed the sedan twice fail to
use a turn signal within the required distance from the stop
sign. Id. As Curtis accelerated to initiate a
traffic stop, the sedan ran a stop sign and made a quick turn
into a driveway. Id.
hearing, Officer Curtis testified he was just outside the
Hartsville city limits when he first noticed Windham's
vehicle. Officer Curtis was still within the immediate
vicinity of the city of Hartsville when he followed Windham
to the residence where he ultimately stopped. Id. at
8. The entire pursuit and subsequent arrest occurred within
Darlington County, where Hartsville is located, and within
three miles of the city limits.
parking the vehicle in the driveway, the driver emerged from
the vehicle, and Curtis recognized the driver as Windham.
Id. at 2. Although Windham attempted to walk towards
the residence, Curtis detained him and asked for
identification. Id. Windham admitted he had no
identification and subsequently told Curtis he did not have a
driver's license. Id. At this point, Curtis
handcuffed Windham and placed him in the backseat of his
patrol car. Id. Several seconds later, before he was
given his Miranda warnings, Curtis' dash camera
captured the following exchange: Windham said “Hey,
listen, come here. Come here. I'm going to show you
something. We gonna go to my car.” Id. Curtis
asked, “Whatcha got?” Id. Windham
responded, “There's a firearm in my car, but
it's registered.” Id. Windham further
elaborated the firearm is “in the backseat of my
car” and “wrapped in my black jacket.”
Id. at 2-3.
searched the backseat of Windham's vehicle and found the
firearm and ammunition where Windham told Curtis it was
located. Id. at 3. After a few minutes, Curtis asked
Windham if “he had anything else on [him].”
Id. Windham stated he had some marijuana in his
possession. Id. Law enforcement then found a $1 bill
with 0.4 grams of marijuana wrapped inside of the bill inside
Windham's pocket. Id.
second stop occurred on March 15, 2018, when Hartsville
Police Officer Reichard (Reichard) was operating a stationary
radar and noticed a white sedan driving east on West
Washington Street at fifty-nine miles per hour (mph) in a
forty-mph zone. Id. Reichard attempted to pursue the
sedan, but the driver accelerated and Reichard fell further
behind. Hartsville Police Officer Johnson (Johnson) spotted
the vehicle, initiated pursuit with his blue lights on, and
ultimately pulled the vehicle over on Elmwood Drive.
Officer Reichard first noticed Windham was speeding, he was
driving in the Hartsville city limits on West Washington
Street. Id. at 16. The subsequent pursuit and arrest
took Officer Reichard outside of the Hartsville city limits,
but well ...