Argued: January 31, 2019
from the United States District Court for the District of
South Carolina, at Greenville. Henry M. Herlong, Jr., Senior
District Judge. (6:17-cr-00517-HMH-1)
Snow Kendrick, KENDRICK & LEONARD, P.C., Greenville,
South Carolina, for Appellant.
L. Schoen, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Charleston,
South Carolina, for Appellee.
A. Lydon, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES
ATTORNEY, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.
AGEE and FLOYD, Circuit Judges, and TRAXLER, Senior Circuit
TRAXLER, Senior Circuit Judge:
Drummond was convicted of possession of a firearm and
ammunition by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1), and he received a sentence enhancement
under the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA"), 18
U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). He appeals the district court's
denial of his pretrial motion to suppress evidence against
him, as well as the imposition of the enhanced sentence under
the ACCA. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
2017, Deputy K. McGrath received a tip from a known informant
that Nicholas Finley was selling methamphetamine from Room
131 of the Red Roof Inn in Greenville, South Carolina. Deputy
McGrath was aware of Finley's reputation as a person
involved with narcotics and firearms, and she knew that he
was a convicted felon. On May 11, 2017, at approximately 4:30
p.m., she and another deputy drove to the Red Roof Inn to
investigate the tip and see if there was any suspicious
activity occurring there. Room 131 was located on the back
side of the motel. The only car in the parking lot was in
front of Room 131, and it had a fake paper tag. As Deputy
McGrath was checking the VIN of the vehicle to see if it was
stolen, Finley came to the door of Room 131, with a big gray
pit bull at his side. Deputy McGrath recognized Finley and
asked permission to enter the room. Finley agreed and put the
dog in the bathroom.
were seven people inside Room 131, including Drummond, all of
whom voluntarily produced identification. Deputy McGrath
asked Finley if anyone else was present in the room, and
Finley assured her that there was not. After checking the
identifications provided by the occupants of the room, Deputy
McGrath asked for Finley's permission to check the
bathroom. He again consented. Aware that the dog was inside
the bathroom, Deputy McGrath slowly opened the door. There
she found a woman, who could not be identified at the time by
the name given. There was an orange hypodermic needle cap
near the woman's feet. Deputy McGrath asked the occupants
of the room if anyone had a medical condition that would
explain the presence of the needle cap. No one admitted to
any such condition.
her partner stayed with the occupants in the room, Deputy
McGrath sought a warrant to search Room 131, based on the
The Affiant obtained knowledge that the occupant of this
room, Nicholas Finley was selling Methamphetamine from room
131 at this motel. When I performed an extra patrol of this
motel, I observed a suspicious vehicle parked in front of the
motel room with a fake paper tag. As I walked up to the
vehicle, Nicholas Finley began exiting the motel room. I
observed multiple people inside the hotel room along with a
large pit bull. As Nicholas put the dog in the bathroom, I
asked if I could enter the hotel room and Nicholas stated I
could. Due to the large amount of people in the room I asked
to see identification and asked if anyone else was in the
room. I was advised there was no one else. After checking
everyone's identifications, I asked Nicholas if I could
check the bathroom to ensure no one else was in the room. I
found a female that could not be identified at this time by
her name given and I observed an orange hypodermic needle cap
on the floor next to her feet. No one in the room was a
diabetic and could provide a reason for having this drug
paraphernalia. I believe through the execution of this search
warrant, more narcotics and paraphernalia will be located.
J.A. 71. The magistrate issued the search warrant, which
resulted in the discovery of firearms, ammunition, multiple
baggies with methamphetamine residue, and various items of
drug paraphernalia, including hypodermic needles.
backpack located near Drummond's feet, the officers found
a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver, fully loaded with
.38 caliber rounds, a Crown Royal bag containing additional
.38 caliber ammunition, and job-related paperwork in
Drummond's name. Drummond's fingerprints were
subsequently found on the gun.
was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Prior to trial, he
moved to suppress the evidence seized in the search,
asserting that the search warrant was not supported by
probable cause. The government argued that Drummond lacked
standing to challenge the search of the motel room and that,
even if he did have standing, the search warrant was
supported by probable cause. The district court denied the
motion to suppress. Drummond was subsequently convicted by a
jury of the felon-in-possession charge.
Drummond's objections, the district court imposed an
enhancement under the ACCA, based upon Drummond's three
prior felony convictions in South Carolina for criminal
domestic violence. Drummond received a sentence of 247
months' imprisonment. He appeals the district court's
denial of his motion to suppress and the imposition of the
ACCA sentence enhancement.
begin with Drummond's appeal of his § 922(g)(1)
conviction, which was based solely on his claim that the
district court erred in denying his motion to suppress. More
specifically, Drummond contends that the affidavit prepared
by Deputy McGrath was insufficient to establish probable
cause for the magistrate to issue the search warrant. We
Fourth Amendment protects individuals from "unreasonable
searches and seizures," and provides that "no
Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by
Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to
be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
U.S. Const. amend. IV. Generally, evidence seized in
violation of the Fourth Amendment is not admissible at trial.
See United States v. Andrews, 577 F.3d 231, 235 (4th
considering a district court's denial of a suppression
motion, we review factual findings for clear error and legal
conclusions de novo." United States v.
Richardson, 607 F.3d 357, 369 (4th Cir. 2010).
"Although the concept of probable cause defies a precise
definition, it exists where the known facts and circumstances
are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable prudence in the
belief that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found
in the place to be searched." Id. (internal
quotation marks and alteration omitted). "[T]he
determination of probable cause by the issuing magistrate is
entitled to great deference from this court."
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). The
magistrate "issuing a search warrant must simply make a
practical, commonsense determination-based on the totality of
the circumstances revealed in the affidavit-of whether there
is a substantial likelihood that evidence of a crime will be
found in a particular place." United States v.
Allen, 631 F.3d 164, 173 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing
Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 230-31 (1983)).
"Our duty 'is simply to ensure that the magistrate
had a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause
existed.'" Richardson, 607 F.3d at 369
(quoting Gates, 462 U.S. at 238-39).
argues that Deputy McGrath's affidavit did not suffice to
establish probable cause to search the motel room because the
affidavit contained no information about the informant or the
informant's credibility, and because nothing in the
affidavit beyond Finley's presence in the motel room
corroborated the informant's tip. Drummond argues that
the false paper tag on the car that was parked outside the
motel room could not be relied upon to justify a search of
the motel room. And Drummond argues that the hypodermic
needle cap was nothing more than a piece of trash. However,
"[t]he totality-of-the-circumstances test 'precludes
this sort of divide-and-conquer analysis.'"
Dist. of Columbia v. Wesby, 138 S.Ct. 577, 588
(2018) (quoting United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S.
266, 274 (2002)). "The totality of the circumstances
requires courts to consider the whole picture," and
"the whole is often greater than the sum of its
parts-especially when the parts are viewed in
isolation." Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). Nor does the probable cause analysis require a
magistrate to rule out every "innocent explanation for
suspicious facts." Id.
Deputy McGrath did not identify her informant or explain the
basis for the informant's tip that drug dealing was
occurring in Room 131 of the Red Roof Inn. She testified that
this was because of the danger that the subject posed and the
unwillingness of the tipster to be known. Contrary to
Drummond's view, however, the affidavit for the warrant
was not based solely on the informant's tip. The tip,
coupled with Deputy McGrath's knowledge of Finley's
drug-dealing reputation, led her to conduct the extra patrol
of the motel in order to investigate the tip. This
investigation, in turn, led to facts and circumstances that
demonstrated probable cause to obtain the warrant.
the tip provided to Deputy McGrath was partially corroborated
immediately upon the officers' arrival at the motel room.
Finley walked out of the specific room identified by the
informant as the place where drugs were being dealt. The only
car in the lot was parked directly in front of the room and
had a fake paper tag. There were a large number of people in
the small motel room in the afternoon hours. When Deputy
McGrath asked for permission to enter the room, Finley
consented, but put his pit bull in the bathroom. Finley then
lied to the deputies about whether there was a person in the
bathroom. After Finley consented to Deputy McGrath's