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United States v. Long-Payton

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 15, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
STERLIN YAZMIN LONG-PAYTON, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

KIM R. GIBSON, District Judge.

I. Introduction

On March 12, 2008, the Government filed an Indictment (ECF No. 1) against Defendant Sterlin Yazmin Long-Payton, charging her with possession with intent to distribute a quantity of 3, 4-methylenedioxyamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy, a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C), and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Trial in this matter is currently scheduled to begin on May 18, 2015.

Pending before the Court in this matter are (1) Defendant's motion in limine (ECF No. 275) to preclude the Government from introducing evidence that the Court has already suppressed; (2) Defendant's motion in limine (ECF No. 276) to preclude expert testimony; and (3) Defendants' motion in limine (ECF No. 277) to admit exculpatory evidence pursuant to Rule 404(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The Government has filed a response (ECF No. 286) to the motions. The issues have been fully briefed, and the motions are ripe for disposition. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion to preclude the Government from introducing evidence already suppressed by the Court, but will deny Defendant's motion to exclude expert testimony and Defendant's motion to admit Rule 404(b) evidence.

II. Background

This case arises from a traffic stop initiated by Corporal Robert Johnson involving a 1997 Buick Park Avenue on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on May 25, 2007.[1] Defendant was the driver of the vehicle, and her co-defendant, Charles Gooch, was riding as a passenger. During the traffic stop, Corporal Johnson discovered and seized a quantity of ecstasy tablets from the trunk of the vehicle. Both Defendant Long-Payton and Gooch were indicted and charged with possession with intent to distribute ecstasy. The Indictment charges that, from on or about May 25, 2007, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Defendant, Sterlin Yazmin Long-Payton, did knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully possess with intent to distribute a quantity of 3, 4-methylenedioxyamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy, a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C), and 18 U.S.C. § 2.

To prove that Defendant committed the crime of possession with intent to distribute a quantity of 3, 4-methylenedioxyamphetamine, the Government must show: (1) that on or about the date set forth in the Indictment, the defendant possessed with intent to distribute a controlled substance, in this case, ecstasy; (2) that the defendant did so knowingly and intentionally; and (3) that methylenedioxyamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy, is a Schedule I controlled substance, pursuant to Title 21, United States Code, Section 812(c), Schedule I(c)(1).

III. Discussion

A. Motion to Preclude Introduction of Suppressed Evidence (ECF No. 275)

Defendant has filed a motion (ECF No. 275) to preclude the Government from presenting evidence, which the Court has already suppressed, from the police cruiser recording of the traffic stop of the vehicle Defendant was driving. As noted above, this case arises from a traffic stop involving Defendant's vehicle by the Pennsylvania State Police on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on May 25, 2007. Defendant contends that the Government will seek to introduce the video recording of the stop into evidence, and argues that this Court has already entered an order suppressing Defendant's statements to Corporal Johnson, which were recorded on the video, because Corporal Johnson did not properly administer Miranda warnings to Defendant. (Id. at 2-3). Defendant asserts that such evidence is inadmissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence because it is irrelevant under Rule 401 and because it is unduly prejudicial under Rule 403. Defendant asks that the audio and video recording of the traffic stop be excluded, beginning at the point that Corporal Johnson attempts to administer the defective Miranda warnings to Defendant, at 3:56:40 (22:24). (Id. at 3).

In response, the Government acknowledges that the Court previously ruled that the Miranda warnings administered by Corporal Johnson were defective. Thus, the Government concedes that this portion of the video recording should not be admitted into evidence or played for the jury. (ECF No. 286 at 2).

Accordingly, Defendant's motion (ECF No. 275) to preclude the introduction of already suppressed evidence is GRANTED, in accordance with this Court's previous ruling on Defendant's motion to suppress. See United States v. Gooch, 915 F.Supp.2d 690, 722-23 (W.D. Pa. 2012). The audio and video recording of the traffic stop of Defendant's vehicle beginning at the point when Corporal Johnson attempts to administer the defective Miranda warnings will be excluded.

B. Motion to Preclude Expert Testimony (ECF No. 276)

Defendant has filed a motion (ECF No. 276) to preclude expert testimony of Special Agent Arnold Bernard. The Government intends to offer Agent Bernard as an expert in "drug ...


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