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United States v. Wadley

December 28, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
COREY WADLEY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nora Barry Fischer United States District Judge

Judge Nora Barry Fischer

MEMORANDUM ORDER

This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Suppress Evidence (DE [39]), filed by Defendant Corey Wadley on October 31, 2007. On November 9, 2007, the Government filed its Response to Motion to Suppress Evidence. On November 29, 2007, the Court held an evidentiary hearing as to Defendant's motion to suppress, at which Officer Morgan Jenkins testified on behalf of the Government and the Court heard subsequent argument from the parties. For the following reasons, said motion is denied.

FACTS

On February 12, 2007, at approximately 5:46 a.m., Pittsburgh Police Officers Morgan Jenkins and Tim Matson responded to two separate 911 emergency calls at 2253 Wilner Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, relayed through the 911 dispatcher. Tr. at 5:20-7:3. The first call, placed by a male, reported that "there was possibly someone being held captive against their will at [2253 Wilner Drive]." Tr. at 6:20-22. In response to that call, Officer Jenkins and Matson proceeded to that location. Tr. at 14:17-19. While en route, the second call, placed by a female, reported "some type of domestic dispute." Tr. at 7:1-3; 14:20-23.

Upon arriving at the residence, Officer Jenkins testified that, as he approached the front door of the residence, he heard "some type of commotion" and "lots of different voices yelling and screaming" from inside the residence. Tr. at 8:2-4. The police officers knocked on the door and a woman later identified as Garnette Blue opened the door.*fn1 Tr. at 8:8-11. Officer Jenkins testified that Ms. Blue invited the officers to come inside the residence. Tr. at 8:13. As the police officers entered the residence, Ms. Blue pointed at the Defendant, who was standing at the top of a short stairway near the door of the residence, and, according to Officer Jenkins' testimony, she stated that he was "acting crazy." Tr. at 8:25-9:11. Defendant Wadley responded that he made the 911 telephone call and that he wanted the police officers to follow him. Tr. at 9:13-14 ("[Defendant Wadley] gestured to [Officer Jenkins] and stated that he is the one that had dialed 911 and [Officer Jenkins] should follow him or come with him"). As Officer Jenkins began to walk towards him, Defendant Wadley walked away out of Officer Jenkins' line of sight and Officer Jenkins immediately followed the Defendant. Tr. at 9:15-20.

Officer Jenkins observed the Defendant enter a bedroom and sit on the foot of the bed. Tr. at 10:3; 10:19-20. As Officer Jenkins entered the room, the Defendant stated "this is where the real show is." Tr. at 11:12. Officer Jenkins observed two objects laying on the top of the square bedpost approximately less than a foot from the Defendant's left elbow, which he immediately recognized as crack cocaine. Tr. at11:16-18; 11:25-12:5. After observing the contraband, Officer Jenkins asked the Defendant to stand and placed him in custody. Tr. at 12:17-20. Officers Jenkins testified that from the time that he and his partner reached the front door of the residence to the time when he saw the two objects on the bedpost approximately one minute elapsed. Tr. at 12:21-25.

In conducting a search incident to arrest, Officer Jenkins found a plastic baggie containing a "large piece of crack cocaine." Tr. at 13:17-18.*fn2

While Defendant and Officer Jenkins were still in the bedroom, Wadley continually informed Officer Jenkins that someone was under the bed. Tr. at 13:7-8. Heeding this warning, Officer Jenkins looked under the bed but did not locate anyone. Tr. at 13:9-12. Officer Jenkins then escorted Wadley from the residence. Tr. at 13:20-22.

After Wadley's arrest, Ms. Blue provided written consent to search her bedroom, the same room in which Officer Jenkins arrested the Defendant. During the execution of the search, the police officers found a small baggie of marijuana, a loaded .38 caliber revolver and a set of metal knuckles in a dresser drawer containing women's underwear, ammunition for a .38 caliber revolver under the bed, and a partially empty box of sandwich baggies. Docket No. 43, at 3-4.

Subsequently, on or about April 24, 2007, the Government filed an Indictment charging Defendant Corey Wadley with knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully possessing with the intent to distribute five (5) grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base, in the form commonly known as crack, a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(iii).

ARGUMENTS PRESENTED

In his motion, the Defendant offers four arguments: (1) there was no valid search warrant to search the residence; (2) there were no exigent circumstances to permit the search of the residence without a search warrant; (3) the arrest of the Defendant and resulting search incident to arrest were without probable cause and a result of the initial illegal search and seizure within the residence; and (4) there was no valid consent to search the residence as Defendant did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily consent to the search of the residence. (Docket No. 39, 2-3). Responding to all of Defendant's arguments, the Government asserts that "[t]he entry of the residence that led to Wadley's arrest ...


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