United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
TORRESEN, UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.
me is Defendant John Billings's motion to suppress the
statements he made during the execution of a search warrant
of his home and the digital evidence recovered from two cell
phones found during the search. (ECF No. 33.) Mr. Billings
argues that the officers coerced him into providing the
passcodes to the two cell phones, violating his Fifth
Amendment rights, and that in “seizing” the
passcodes they exceeded the scope of the warrant. The
Government contends that the statements made by Mr. Billings
were not coerced and that the police did not
“seize” the passcodes. For the following reasons,
the Defendant's motion is DENIED.
February 23, 2017, at approximately 10:30 a.m., law
enforcement officers executed a search warrant for all
computers, electronic devices, and digital storage media at
24 Maplewood Avenue, Windham, Maine. Det. Stepnick of the
Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit sought the warrant
after downloading a video containing suspected child
pornography that was shared on a peer-to-peer network from a
computer with an IP address assigned to 24 Maplewood Avenue.
Det. Stepnick was assisted in the search by seven to eight
armed officers. Three or four were Homeland Security agents,
who wore raid jackets. Det. Stepnick wore plain clothes with
a badge, and his jacket concealed his firearm. The rest were
uniformed Windham police department officers with visible
the officers arrived at the house, they first encountered
Lori Presby, Mr. Billings's wife, and then presented her
daughter, Lacy Lee, with a copy of the search warrant. Mr.
Billings was sleeping upstairs, and officers woke him and
escorted him down to the living room. Det. Stepnick told Mr.
Billings they were executing a warrant because someone in the
house “was seen downloading files that they
shouldn't have been downloading.” Gov't's
Ex. 1 (“Stepnick Recording”)
04:20-04:27. Det. Stepnick started to ask Mr. Billings
questions about his use of any file-sharing network. Mr.
Billings said he would like to smoke a cigarette. Det.
Stepnick asked that he smoke outside. As they were looking
for cigarettes and a lighter, Det. Stepnick told Mr.
Billings, “[n]obody's under arrest here either, you
can leave at any time . . . .” Stepnick Recording
04:53-05:00. Det. Stepnick also told Mr. Billings that Ms.
Lee had a copy of the search warrant. After additional
conversation, the following exchange occurred:
Stepnick: Okay. Okay. We're doing an investigation,
you're not under arrest or anything, but do you mind if
we ask you some questions or talk about why we're here,
or . . .
Billings: I'd like to have a lawyer.
Stepnick: Okay, okay, good enough. Um, then we won't talk
to you anymore, then. Okay? Um, but we are going to take all
the digital devices that are here, phones, computers,
everything's going with us. Um, we were hoping to
alleviate that, but we'll just take everything. And at
some point you'll get it back. We're looking for
Fife: And there's a child living here.
Stepnick: And there's a child living here.
Fife: And that's a huge concern, you understand?
Stepnick: So do you have a phone on you, or is it in your
room, or . . .
Stepnick: Uh, no to what, you don't have it on you or
it's in your room.
Billings: I have no phone.
Stepnick: Okay, okay. So we're gonna get Rescue for, is
it your, the lady that's living here. Lori.
Stepnick: We're gonna get Rescue for her, she's
having a little bit of, problems. And then we're going to
rip the place apart and search it. And you can leave if you
want, you can stay ...