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United States v. Young

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 6, 2017



          William W. Caldwell United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Defendant Timothy Andrew Young has moved to suppress evidence obtained from a warrantless search of his residence. After careful consideration, the court will deny Defendant's motion.

         II. Background

         On June 22, 2016, Defendant was indicted on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Doc. 3). He initially represented himself, but after multiple disruptive hearings and refusals to cooperate, this court found that he had waived his right to self-representation. (See Doc. 56 at 9). Standby counsel from the Federal Public Defender's Office was appointed to represent him. (Id.; Doc. 57).

         After standby counsel was appointed, Defendant-through his attorney- sought leave to file a motion to suppress evidence nunc pro tunc, (Doc. 69); the Government did not oppose the late filing of a motion to suppress, (id. at 3). In his motion to suppress, Defendant claims that the warrantless search of, and seizure of evidence from, his residence violated his Fourth Amendment rights. (Doc. 70; Doc. 71 at 5). The Government asserts that valid exceptions to the warrant requirement made the search and seizures constitutional. (Doc. 78 at 6-11). An evidentiary hearing was held on September 26, 2017. (Doc. 77 at 1). The motion to suppress is now ripe for disposition.

         III. Findings of Fact[1]

         On April 6, 2016, four officers from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office attempted to execute an arrest warrant for Defendant at his residence. (Doc. 77, Tr. of Hr'g on Mot. to Suppress [hereinafter “Doc. 77”], at 5-6). Defendant lived at this residence with Teresa Wines-McLean (“Wines-McLean”). (Doc. 77 at 72).

         When the officers arrived, they positioned themselves around the house. (Id. at 8-9). Several officers knocked on the rear sliding glass door, and Wines-McLean opened the door to speak with the officers. (Id. at 8). She told them that Defendant was home and that she would go get him. (Id.) Shortly thereafter, Wines-McLean shut and locked the sliding glass door. (Id. at 8, 28).

         Sergeant Benjamin Sites (“Sergeant Sites”) observed, through the front bay window, a male in a reclining chair in the living room area. (Id. at 8, 22). Around the time the rear sliding glass door was shut and locked on the officers, one of the deputies at the front of the house saw the man get out of the recliner and move to the back of the house where the bedrooms were located. (Id. at 9).

         In response to the rear door being shut and locked, the officers knocked loudly and warned the occupants that if the door was not opened, the officers would force entry into the house. (Id.) After approximately four to five minutes, Wines-McLean opened the door. (Id.) At that time the officers entered the residence and physically removed Wines-McLean to the rear porch. (Id. at 10, 30). She seemed distraught and frightened, and told the officers that Defendant had concealed himself somewhere in the house. (Id. at 10-11).

         The officers asked Wines-McLean if there were firearms in the home, and she responded affirmatively. (Id. at 74). According to Sergeant Sites, she also made statements indicating that Defendant was not going to surrender to law enforcement easily, that there were loaded weapons in the house, and that Defendant was prepared to use them if necessary. (Id. at 11). Wines-McLean testified that she did not recall making such statements. (Id. at 75).

         Upon moving Wines-McLean outside, the officers began to take custody of the house. (Id. at 10-11). After clearing the kitchen area where they had entered, and repeatedly identifying themselves and calling out for Defendant to give himself up, they decided to call for backup before proceeding further. (Id. at 11-12). While holding the hallway and awaiting backup, Sergeant Sites heard a “crashing noise” from somewhere in the house. (Id. at 12, 33). When he exited the house sometime later, he saw a basement window that was ajar. (Id. at 34).

         During much of this time, Wines-McLean was on the phone with her next-door neighbor, Gina Spero (“Spero”), and eventually went to Spero's property for consolation. (Id. at 63-64, 78). While Wines-McLean was literally crying on Spero's shoulder, Spero saw Defendant jump her fence and run through her backyard. (Id. at 13, 64, 68). This information was immediately relayed to the officers. (Id. at 13, 68). Spero was not allowed to return to her home since Defendant was on the loose and had been seen near her house, so the officers requested that she and Wines-McLean return to Wines-McLean's residence and wait in the ...

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