United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
Torresen United States Chief District Judge
me is Defendant Charles Leonard's motion to suppress the
shotgun and ammunition seized during a warrantless search of
his home. (ECF No. 15). Mr. Leonard argues that the
officers' initial entry and search of his home was
unjustified, which tainted the voluntariness of his later
consent to search the home. The Government responds that the
sweep was a permissible precautionary measure taken to ensure
there was no one in the home who presented a threat to the
officers. For the following reasons, the motion to suppress
events leading up to the contested search began two weeks
prior. On September 8, 2015, Det. William Tapley of the
Lisbon Police Department received a call about an attempted
purchase of a firearm at the Double Diamond Pawn Shop in
Lisbon, Maine. The manager of the shop was Det. Tapley's
former partner, and he told Det. Tapley that he suspected the
two men who came into the shop, Charles Leonard and Harley
Stanley, were felons. The shop did not sell Mr. Leonard the .40
caliber pistol he selected because the address on his
paperwork did not match the address on Mr. Leonard's
identification. See Hearing Tr. Sept. 15, 2017 at
05:13-18 (“Hearing Tr.”);
Gov't's Ex. 3.
Tapley ran a criminal record check on both men and found that
Mr. Stanley had a Class C felony for receiving stolen
property and some outstanding warrants for unpaid fines.
Hearing Tr. 44:06-18; Gov't's Ex. 1; Gov't's
Opp'n 2 (ECF No. 17). Mr. Leonard had a misdemeanor
criminal record. Hearing Tr. 63:07-18; Gov't's Ex. 2.
Det. Tapley also reviewed the Double Diamond's security
video footage and observed Mr. Stanley handling several
handguns and putting money on the counter. Hearing Tr.
09:05-10:06. Det. Tapley suspected that Mr. Leonard had
attempted to make a straw purchase of the firearm for Mr.
Stanley. Hearing Tr. 07:04-15.
September 12, 2015, Det. Tapley recognized Mr. Leonard's
truck and made a traffic stop. Mr. Leonard was driving, and
Mr. Stanley was a passenger. Det. Tapley arrested Mr. Stanley
without incident on the outstanding warrants. Hearing Tr.
11:14-12:03. Det. Tapley mentioned to Mr. Leonard that he
wanted to ask him about the purchase of a firearm at the
Double Diamond and that he would do so at a later date.
Hearing Tr. 12:04-14.
Tapley shared the information he had developed with
Christopher Durkin, a special agent with Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. On September 23, 2015, SA
Durkin and Det. Tapley went to Mr. Leonard's residence to
see if Mr. Leonard would consent to an interview, often
referred to as a “knock and talk” in police
jargon. The officers had no arrest or search warrant.
Leonard's home was a single-wide trailer near the end of
a dirt road in a trailer park that was familiar to Det.
Tapley from prior unrelated visits. Hearing Tr. 15:02-06. The
east wall of the trailer was approximately 12 feet wide and
faced the road. Hearing Tr. 24:04-14; Gov't's Ex. 31;
Gov't's Ex. 35. The trailer's exterior doors were
on the north and south walls, which were approximately 40
feet long. Hearing Tr. 15:07-10; Gov't's Ex. 35.
the officers arrived, they detected the strong smell of
cultivated marijuana. Hearing Tr. 14:08-15. SA Durkin
activated a digital recorder that he wore on his person.
Durkin Recording (Gov't's Ex. 7). The officers
approached the door on the south wall of the trailer and
knocked. Durkin Recording 00:43-00:47. They heard noise like
rustling or movement. Hearing Tr. 16:09-15, 77:12-18,
90:17-23. One of the officers can be heard on the recording
saying casually “there might be a kid in there.”
Durkin Recording 00:58. Det. Tapley suspected that someone
might be exiting the other side of the trailer, and SA Durkin
went around to check. Hearing Tr. 16:09-15. When he got
around to the other side of the trailer, SA Durkin met Mr.
Leonard coming out the back door. SA Durkin, speaking
“casually” with Mr. Leonard, walked to the east
side of the trailer with Mr. Leonard so that he could see the
front entryway. Hearing Tr. 78:23-79:02.
approximately this time, Stevie Bean answered the front door.
Ms. Bean lives in the trailer with Mr. Leonard and their
two-year-old child, MC. Durkin Recording 03:54-04:00. Det.
Tapley did not see marijuana from the door, but, based on the
smell, he asked Ms. Bean how much marijuana was inside, and
she said “a lot.” Hearing Tr. 15:25-16:01,
18:03-11. After consulting briefly with SA Durkin,
who was talking to Mr. Leonard at the east side of the
trailer, Det. Tapley returned to Ms. Bean at the primary
door, and she indicated that Mr. Stanley was inside. Hearing
Tapley entered and walked through the trailer to find Mr.
Stanley. He did not request backup or warn SA Durkin that he
was going inside the home. Det. Tapley testified that he had
no recollection of whether he drew his weapon when conducting
his protective sweep. He testified that he
“hoped” he had his weapon drawn as that would be
proper protocol. Hearing Tr. 67:03-06, 68:11-13. He can be
heard calling out “Harley!” on the recording.
Durkin Recording 5:40.
six minutes into the encounter, Det. Tapley rejoined SA
Durkin, who was standing outside the trailer with Mr.
Leonard, Ms. Bean, and MC.Det. Tapley asked SA Durkin whether
he saw Mr. Stanley come out the back and surmised that Mr.
Stanley may still be in the trailer. Durkin Recording
06:30-06:36. SA Durkin said he could “hear him in
there.” Durkin Recording 06:37. Without asking for
assistance, Det. Tapley returned to searching and calling out
“Harley come out. Harley! Where are ya?” Durkin
Recording 06:40. SA Durkin meanwhile resumed questioning Mr.
Leonard about the straw purchase, while MC threw clumps of
dirt at SA Durkin. Durkin Recording 07:10.
eight minutes into the encounter, Det. Tapley came outside of
the trailer and said “he apparently went out the
window.” Durkin Recording 08:12. He instructed Ms.
Bean, “[c]ome with me and show me where he might be
hiding.” Durkin Recording 08:18. Det. Tapley then took
Ms. Bean back into the trailer. Once inside the trailer, Det.
Tapley read the Miranda warnings to Ms. Bean and asked her
questions about the marijuana which was drying throughout the
trailer. Det. Tapley asked if Ms. Bean would consent to a
search of the house, and he called Officer Richard St. Amant
to deliver a consent to search form.
11 minutes into the encounter, Officer St. Amant arrived. He
greeted SA Durkin and asked him how he was doing. SA Durkin
replied: “Been better. Bill's inside there. I
don't know what's going on.” Durkin Recording
11:35. Officer St. Amant then carried the unsigned
consent-to-search forms into the trailer. While still
standing inside the trailer, Det. Tapley continued to speak
with Ms. Bean about the marijuana, informed her that he could
get a search warrant based on what he had seen so far, and
read through the consent form. Hearing Tr. 31:20-32:14. Ms.
Bean signed. Gov't's Ex. 9.
minutes later, SA Durkin joined the other officers, at which
point all three officers were inside the trailer without
warrants or Mr. Leonard's consent. Durkin Recording
13:43. Officer St. Amant told SA Durkin that Mr. Stanley was
“gone, ” and SA Durkin confirmed that the police
did not “have anything on him anyways.” Durkin
Recording 14:04-14:12. Det. Tapley then asked Officer St.
Amant “mind staying out here, Rich?” Durkin
Recording 14:47. And to SA Durkin, Det. Tapley asked:
WT: You have your recorder on?
CD: I do. I'm done talking to him he's denying all of
it saying there's no way he's buying a gun for
CD: You want to talk to me about something else?
CD: End of interview.
Recording Tr. 12 (ECF No. 22-1); Durkin Recording
14:47-14:59. SA Durkin then turned off his recording device.
SA Durkin testified that he turned his recorder off because
he was finished with the investigation into the firearm and
saw no reason to record the rest of the encounter. Hearing
Durkin said he restarted the recording again after walking
from the trailer to car. Hearing Tr. 97:03-15. When the
recording began again, Det. Tapley was reading Mr. Leonard
the Miranda warnings outside of the trailer. Mr. Leonard said
he did not want to answer questions. Durkin Recording
16:00-16:13. Det. Tapley then told Mr. Leonard that he knew
Mr. Leonard had a four-wheeler, that marijuana was stolen in
Lisbon by someone with a four-wheeler, and that Ms. Bean said
the marijuana in the house was stolen. Det. Tapley
informed Mr. Leonard that Ms. Bean already consented to a
search and that “we obviously know there's
marijuana here.” Durkin Recording 16:50-17:05. Det.
Tapley told Mr. Leonard he could consent to a search of his
home or the police would get a search warrant. Durkin
Recording 17:05-17:10. Mr. Leonard asked what the search
would be for, and Det. Tapley responded “to collect all
the weed.” Durkin Recording 17:10-17:15. SA Durkin told
Mr. Leonard that it was it was “highly likely”
that they would get a warrant so the process was “just
a formality, ” “paperwork.” Durkin
Recording 17:25-17:37. Det. Tapley chimed in, “So most
likely we ...