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United States v. Edwards

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 22, 2013



C. DARNELL JONES, II, District Judge.

On December 15, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted Defendant Karl Bruce Edwards (hereinafter "Defendant"), charging him with one count of Bank Robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 2113(a)(2012). Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress evidence that was seized on August 5, 2011. Upon consideration of Defendant's Motion (Dkt. No. 17); the Government's Response thereto (Dkt. No. 18); evidence produced at a suppression hearing held before this Court on February 4 (Day I) and 5 (Day II), 2013; and the Government and Defendant's post-hearing briefings (Dkt. Nos. 28 & 29), the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law are hereby rendered.


1. On August 5, 2011, at approximately 4:20 p.m., the Wells Fargo Bank branch located at 101 South Main Street in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, was robbed by a single male perpetrator. The robber handed the teller a demand note that stated, "Money no die packs." The teller immediately handed over the contents of her drawer. A total of $10, 730 was taken.
2. Corporal Patrick Mark responded to the bank and spoke with Laura Hilliard, the victim teller. (Day I, pp. 7; 35). Ms. Hilliard told Corporal Mark that while she was working inside the bank, she had been approached by a black male, approximately five foot eight, early 40s, wearing sunglasses and a white baggy t-shirt, and carrying a white grocery bag. The male had a stubbly beard and mustache, and black hair. (Day I, pp. 8; 34; 36).
3. The victim-teller, Laura Hilliard, was the only eyewitness to the robbery. (Day II pp. 11-12). No one else inside the bank was aware that a robbery had taken place until after the robber left the scene.
4. There was no gun or other weapon involved in the robbery. (Day I, p. 35; Day II, p. 42), and there was no information that anyone other than the lone robber was involved in the offense. (Day II, p. 41).
5. Officers Jason Komorowski and David Wakeley were the first two police officers to respond to the Wells Fargo Bank after the robbery. After Laura Hilliard had provided descriptive information of the robber, "flash" information was broadcast via police radio, which described the robber as a black male, age 30 to 40, wearing a baggy white t-shirt, with a white grocery bag. The description of the robber was later supplemented to include a stubbly beard and moustache. (Day I, pp. 34-35; Day II, pp. 3-4; 10).
6. Corporal Mark, who arrived at the bank to lead the investigation, requested surveillance photographs from corporate security. (Day I, p. 36). The black and white photos arrived within the first hour and were shown to the victim teller, who looked at one or more of them closely and identified the subject as the robber. (Day I, pp. 36-37). These photos were marked as Government Suppression Exhibit 3 (GS-3).
7. Not long after, the teller exited the rear of the bank to smoke a cigarette, and saw a man riding a blue bicycle that she recognized as the robber. (Day I, pp. 9-10). She reported the sighting to Corporal Mark, who broadcasted the information over police radio at 5:24 p.m. (Day II, pp. 140).
8. While he was attempting to locate the man on the bike, Corporal Mark encountered Craig Green, a civilian borough employee, who also works as a firefighter for the Phoenixville Fire Department. Green advised Corporal Mark that the man on the bike was Henry "Smoove" Hampton. (Day I, pp. 11; 43).
9. Corporal Mark was aware at that time that the Hampton family lived on Hall Street, so he proceeded there himself, and also radioed other officers to do likewise, to see whether they could locate the bike and/or Smoove Hampton. Officer Komorowski, who was out ahead of Corporal Mark, located a blue bike at 8 Hall Street, and notified Corporal Mark. The residence at 8 Hall Street is located approximately 50 yards away from the Phoenixville Police Station. (Day I, pp. 12; 33; 44; Day II, pp. 4-5).
10. Corporal Mark put instructions over the radio to detain Smoove Hampton for identification purposes and to "secure the scene." Shortly after Officer Komorowski arrived, Corporal Todd Artz showed up to 8 Hall Street. Corporal Artz stated that upon his arrival, he saw a blue bicycle propped up against the home.
11. Smoove Hampton was inside the residence at 8 Hall Street when the police arrived there. A short time after the police arrived, Hampton exited the front door of 8 Hall Street, wearing a white t-shirt. Corporal Artz spoke with Hampton, who he had known for several years, and told him that he was being detained for investigative purposes, for a major incident. Corporal Artz specifically did not tell Hampton that he was being detained due to a bank robbery having taken place. (Day II, pp. 6; 31-32; 44-45).
12. Hampton was handcuffed by Corporal Artz and ushered to a white plastic chair in front of 8 Hall Street. (Day II, pp. 29; 31-32).
13. After Smoove Hampton was detained, Corporal Artz instructed Officer Stabilo to cover the back door of the residence, and he instructed Officer Sean Knapp and Officer Komorowski to conduct a security sweep inside the residence. (Day II, p. 33).
14. In response to questioning, Smoove Hampton told police that two people were still inside the house. Corporal Mark arrived on the scene and instructed officers to bring out all occupants who were still inside of 8 Hall Street. (Day I, pp.12, 45). Corporal Artz, also on the scene, directed Officers Komorowski and Knapp to enter the residence, and conduct what they termed a "security sweep" or "protective sweep" to remove the occupants from the home. (Day II, pp.7, 33). Corporal Artz remained in the front of the residence with Smoove, who was still seated.
15. Officers Komorowski and Knapp conducted a security sweep of the house. Officer Knapp shouted into the basement and asked whoever was down there to come up. Tanisha Ford-Bey exited first. After Officer Knapp yelled three more times, Defendant came upstairs. Officer Knapp instructed the individuals to go outside to the front of the house.
16. From the moment that Defendant emerged from the basement, until his arrest approximately one-half hour later, he was not free to leave. (Day II, p.50).
17. While still on his way to 8 Hall Street, Corporal Mark was advised by one of the officers on the scene that Smoove Hampton was detained at the scene. When Corporal Mark arrived at 8 Hall Street, Smoove Hampton, a black male, was outside the house in handcuffs. Corporal Mark observed Smoove Hampton seated on the sidewalk in a plastic chair. Smoove Hampton was seated outside the house, in daylight, on a public sidewalk, in full view of anyone in the area. (Day I, pp. 12-13; 114).
18. After seeing Smoove Hampton seated outside 8 Hall Street, Corporal Mark immediately walked back to the bank to get Laura Hilliard and bring her to 8 Hall Street. The bank is less than two blocks from 8 Hall Street. (Day I, p. 13).
19. Defendant and Ms. Ford-Bey remained detained outside of the residence for at least 5-10 minutes as Corporal Mark walked from 8 Hall Street to the bank and returned in an unmarked vehicle with the victim-teller for a "show-up, " to see if she could identify the perpetrator. (Day I, p. 35).
20. At 5:32 p.m., Corporal Mark drove the teller slowly by 8 Hall Street, pulled up right next to where Hampton was seated, and stopped for approximately one minute, for the teller to see if she could identify anyone. (Day II, p.141, Day I, p. 51)
21. When the car pulled up with the teller, Defendant and Ms. Ford-Bey were seated on the front stoop of 8 Hall Street, only several feet from where Henry Hampton was seated. The teller viewed all three detainees, including Defendant, for approximately one minute from a vantage point of 6 to 8 feet away. (Day I, p. 52) (Day II, p.88, D-1, D-2).
22. The teller positively identified Henry Hampton as the robber, telling Corporal Mark that she was 95% sure. At no point did the teller make any suggestion that Defendant bore any resemblance to the robber. (Day I. p.15).
23. It is Corporal Mark's recollection that Smoove Hampton was seated in a chair slightly to the east, down the hill, away from the front door of 8 Hall Street. Corporal Mark recalls that Ms. Tanisha Ford-Bey and the Defendant were further west than Smoove Hampton, closer to the corner of the building, possibly in front of the next house up the block. Corporal Mark did not get a good look at the Defendant at that time. (Day I: pp. 14; 49-50; 55-56).
24. It is the recollection of Corporal Artz that after all three civilians were outside 8 Hall Street, there was approximately ten feet of space between Smoove Hampton and the closer of either Ms. Ford-Bey or the Defendant. (Day II, p. 35).
25. After Corporal Mark returned the teller to the bank, he retrieved the surveillance photos, GS-3, and returned to the scene. Corporal Mark viewed the photographs while looking at Smoove Hampton and stated to Officer Knapp who was present, that the person in the photographs was not Smoove Hampton. Officer Knapp viewed at least one of the frontal view photographs, or possibly two of them, and agreed with Corporal Mark, and then pointed at the Defendant, who was seated on the sidewalk and stated that the photographs were of the Defendant. Corporal Mark compared the photographs with the Defendant, and agreed with Officer Knapp. (Day I, pp. 16-17; 28-32; 37; Day II, p. 60).
26. Corporal Artz viewed the photographs that had been brought to the scene by Corporal Mark. Corporal Artz immediately concluded that Henry Hampton was not the individual depicted in the photographs. Later, Corporal Artz compared the photographs with the Defendant, and he concluded that it was, in fact, the Defendant who was depicted in the photographs. (Day I, pp. 36-37).
27. Corporal Mark ordered Smoove Hampton released from custody, and Defendant was placed under arrest. By 5:51 p.m., Defendant was in custody at the police station. (Day II, p. 141).
28. In total, Defendant was detained for approximately one-half hour before his arrest.
29. After the Defendant was transported to the Phoenixville Police Station following his arrest, he was processed at the station. During the processing procedure, Officer Wakeley searched the Defendant, recovering from his socks suspected marijuana and suspected cocaine. (Day II, p.78-79).
30. At the police station, as he was being processed, Defendant identified himself using the alias "Steven Edwards." (Day II, p. 79). When he was searched, police recovered a paystub off Defendant's person, made out to Karl B. Edwards.
31. The Defendant was completely bald and did not have much of a beard or moustache at the time of his arrest. Corporal Mark would not describe the condition of the Defendant's facial hair as "stubbly, " as Laura Hilliard had described that of the robber. (Day II:, pp. 62-63).
32. The police did not photograph Henry Hampton or in any way memorialize Henry Hampton's appearance before he was released. The police did describe in subsequent reports they prepared, Henry Hampton's clothing at the time he was detained. (Day I, p. 59).
33. Smoove Hampton was wearing a black hat at some point after Corporal Mark arrived at 8 Hall Street. Hampton testified that it was a black "skully" cap. Corporal Mark described Hampton's hat as a "goofy" black hat, and Mark testified that Hampton's hat looked nothing like the black hat worn by the robber in the bank surveillance photographs. For this reason, the police did not photograph or confiscate Hampton's hat as potential evidence. (Day I, pp. 42; 60).
34. After Smoove Hampton was released, he identified his brother, Tyrone Hampton, as the person having control of 8 Hall Street, and as the person who had the authority to ...

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