United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE
F. MOORER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) this case was referred to the
undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for review and
submission of a report with recommended findings of fact and
conclusions of law. Worldly Dieago Holstick
(“Holstick”) and Leanne Grimmett
(“Grimmett”) - collectively referred to as
“Defendants” - filed motions to suppress
information gathered through search of the residence at 533
Lee Road 57, Lot 52, Auburn, Lee County, Alabama which is
located at the Orchard Way Trailer Park. (Docs. 338, 366).
The Government timely filed its response in opposition. (Doc.
356). The Court held an evidentiary hearing on the motions on
February 28, 2018. Based on the evidence presented to the
Court, arguments of the parties, and for the reasons set
forth herein, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the
motions to suppress (Docs. 338, 366) be
Holstick timely filed his motion to suppress the fruits of
the search of the trailer at Lot 52. See Doc. 338.
Defendant Holstick has standing due to his status as a
resident. Defendant Holstick argues the officers lacked
probable cause and no exigent circumstances existed which
authorized entry into the residence. The Government filed its
response on February 2, 2018. See Doc. 356. In its
response, the Government asserts that the warrantless entry
was justified by exigent circumstances. Subsequently,
Defendant Grimmitt filed her motion to suppress adopting and
joining Defendant Holstick as the co-tenant of the same
facts are virtually not in dispute. On September 16, 2016,
around 9:50 p.m., Auburn police received a 911 call that a
juvenile was shot at the Orchard Way Trailer Park. Detective
Terry White (“Detective White”) who was then a
Patrol Officer with Auburn Police Department, was one of the
officers responding to the shooting. As Detective White
traveled along Highway 14 to get to the trailer park, he saw
other two other officers stopped on the side of the road with
civilians who were in their car. The other officers were also
responding to the shooting, but had been flagged down en
route by Kayla Hall, the mother of gunshot victim, D.H.
Detective White got out of his car and remained briefly with
the Officers. He saw D.H. had a gunshot wound in the chest
which he sustained while in the car with Hall and Defendant
Timothy Spinks. The trio were on the way to Hall's
brother's residence in Orchard Way when the car was shot.
The first responding officers were assessing him in the back
seat of the car. D.H. was ultimately airlifted to Birmingham
due to his wound. Detective White left the roadside because
the other officers did not need his assistance with D.H.
Within a few minutes, Detective White and other officers
entered the Orchard Way trailer park to find the exact
location of the shooting. Witnesses standing outside an
adjacent trailer told the officers the shooting happened near
lot 52 and pointed at the trailer on the lot. The officers
did not question the witnesses extensively at the time.
Detective White and the other officers could see bullet holes
down the side of the trailer at lot 52. They also saw a black
sedan parked on the property with a shattered passenger-side
window and bullet strike on the roof. Additionally, officers
found a number of shell casings nearby. Detective White and
two other officers went to the front of the residence.
to entry, the officers announced their presence, and asked if
anyone was inside the residence. When there was no response,
Detective White and the other officers entered to determine
whether there were any victims inside the residence. The
sweep of the trailer took a few minutes. The officers found
no additional victims but smelled marijuana and saw drug
paraphernalia. Once they determined no additional people were
inside, they backed out of the residence and roped it off as
a crime scene. On cross examination, Detective White said
that the officers did not know whether any person was inside
prior to conducting the sweep of the trailer and no witnesses
outside the trailer said whether anyone was inside the
trailer. There were also no noises, moans, screams, or cries
coming from inside the mobile home. Once inside, the officers
went in each room to look for victims which would include
looking in closets, the shower, and any other place a person
might be found. They did not open any drawers or conduct a
full search of the premises. After they roped off the
premises as a crime scene, Defendant Grimmett came to the
trailer. Throughout the testimony, defense counsel utilized a
drawing of the trailer location which was admitted as
Defendant's Exhibit 1. The only factual dispute is that
Officer White testified he found the door to the trailer was
partially open while Defendants claim the door was closed.
Kendall also testified as to the contraband ultimately found
at the residence including items consistent with the
manufacturing of cocaine and/or crack, firearms, and a DVR
system that operated the cameras outside the residence which
contained video of the actual shooting. In particular the DVR
contained video evidence of criminal activities by the
defendants. On cross examination, Agent Kendall testified
that the footage on the video after the shooting appeared to
show the trailer's occupants during the shooting shut the
door when they fled the trailer. Agent Kendall also testified
that the video is motion activated and will jump as motion is
detected. Therefore, he could not testify whether the door
was 100 percent closed when they left or if it was partially
open. Ultimately, the Court considered a proffer by Defense
counsel as to what was viewed on the video. The Court credits
the testimony of White, but assumes arguendo and for purposes
of analysis that the door was closed.
the hearing revealed that the officers ultimately sought and
received a search warrant for the premises after the
shooting. The Warrant, its supporting documentation, and
return was entered as Government Exhibit 1. The Affidavit
discuses that officers also detected the odor of green
marijuana and saw plastic bags commonly used to package
marijuana. The Search warrant was granted by Judge Bush by
telephone at 11:49 p.m. on September 16, 2016 and signed in
person on September 19, 2016. The search results were
detailed on the return which was signed on September 23,
2016. The return lists several items indicative of drug
Fourth Amendment Warrantless Searches
and Grimmett seek suppression under the Fourth Amendment,
which guarantees “[t]he right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. Amend.
IV. Warrantless searches and seizures are per se unreasonable
unless an exception applies. Arizona v. Gant, 129
S.Ct. 1710, 1716, 173 L.Ed.2d 485 (2009) (quoting Katz v.
United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 514, 19
L.Ed.2d 576 (1967)). However, a warrantless search is allowed
where both probable cause and exigent circumstances exist.
United States v. Santa, 236 F.3d 662, 668 (11th Cir.
2000) (quoting United States v. Tobin, 923 F.2d
1506, 1510 (11th Cir. 1991)). The exception applies when the
exigencies of the situation “make the needs of law
enforcement so compelling that a warrantless search is
objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
Riley v. California, ___U.S. ___, ___, 134 S.Ct.
2473, 2494, 189 L.Ed.2d 430 (2014) (quoting Kentucky v.
King, 563 U.S. 452, 460, 131 S.Ct. 1849, 1856, 179
L.Ed.2d 865). Such exigencies may include the need to prevent
the imminent destruction of evidence in individual cases, to
pursue a fleeing suspect, and to assist persons who are
seriously injured or are threatened with imminent injury.
well established that for a defendant to move to suppress
evidence, he must have standing. United States v.
Eyster, 948 F.2d 1196, 1208-09 (11th Cir. 1991). Fourth
Amendment rights are personal, and only individuals who
actually enjoy the reasonable expectation of privacy may
challenge the validity of a government search. Rakas v.
Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 133-34, 143, 99 S.Ct. 421, 58
L.Ed.2d 387 (1978). Thus, the defendant must have a
legitimate expectation of privacy in the premises. See
United States v. Epps, 613 F.3d 1093, 1097 (11th Cir.
2010) (“Only individuals who have a legitimate
expectation of privacy in the area invaded may invoke the
protections of the Fourth Amendment.”). An individual
has standing to challenge a search if “(1) he has a
subjective expectation of privacy, and (2) society is
prepared to recognize that expectation as objectively
reasonable.” United States v. Harris, 526 F.3d
1334, 1338 (11th Cir. 2008); see also United States v.
Segura-Baltazar, 448 F.3d 1281, 1286 (11th Cir. 2006)
(must establish both a subjective and an objective
expectation of privacy). Courts assess on a case-by-case
basis the standing of a particular person to challenge an
intrusion by government officials into an area over which
that person lacked primary control. Oliver v. United
States, 466 U.S. 170, 191 n. 13, 104 S.Ct. 1735, 80
L.Ed.2d 214 (1984). Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit has held
that where a defendant is neither the owner nor the lessee of
the place searched, in order to contest a search, he must
“demonstrate a significant and current interest in the
property at the time it was searched.” United
States v. Miller, 387 Fed.Appx. 949, 951 (11th Cir.