United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge.
Ceasar Torres-Rodriguez ("Torres-Rodriguez") moves
the court to suppress evidence and statements resulting from
a probation check at his residence on April 30, 2016. (Docs.
29, 30). The court will deny Torres-Rodriguez's motion.
Findings of Fact 
resides at 1431 Vernon Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
(Tr. 13:5-6, 22:12-21; 38:8-16; see also Doc. 29-3). On or
about March 17, 2016, Brandi Williams ("Williams")
reported 1431 Vernon Street as her new address to her Dauphin
County probation officer. (Tr. 4:16-20, 5:23-25, 17:8-12). When a
probationer reports a new address, a probation officer must
visit and draw a sketch of the new residence for the
probationer's file. (Id. at 6:4-7). Probation
officer Daniel Kinsinger ("Officer Kinsinger")
visited the 1431 Vernon Street residence with a second
probation officer the following day, March 18, 2016.
(Id. at 4:9, 5:16-17, 6:1-7, 17:17-18:9). Officer
Kinsinger interacted with Williams and her children at the
residence. (Id. at 6:8-12, 18:10-11).
Kinsinger next visited the 1431 Vernon Street residence on
April 8, 2016. (Id. at 6:15-24). Williams and
Torres-Rodriguez both spoke with Officer Kinsinger at the
doorstep of the home. (Id. at 7:1-5). Officer
Kinsinger smelled burnt marijuana but did not "push the
issue" because no other officers had accompanied him to
the residence that day. (Id. at 7:6-14). Williams
visited the probation office for her regular check-in on
April 21, 2016 and again reported 1431 Vernon Street as her
residence. (Id. at 7:16-19).
Kinsinger and police officer Anthony Fiore ("Officer
Fiore") conducted a probation check on Williams at the
1431 Vernon Street residence on the evening of April 30,
2016. (Id. at 7:16-22, 8:24-9:1,
29:10-17). The visit was prompted by the burnt marijuana
smell detected during the April 8, 2016 visit. (Id.
at 7:19-20). Officer Kinsinger knocked and announced himself
as probation. (Id. at 9:7-9, 30:6-8). An
unidentified Hispanic male answered the door and Officer
Kinsinger asked for Williams. (Id. at 9:9, 21:6-8).
The Hispanic male indicated Williams was in the living room
and stepped aside to allow Officer Kinsinger and Officer
Fiore to enter the residence. (Id. at 9:9-11,
21:4-11, 30:9-13, 43:9). Williams said she was in the living
room to the left of the front door and Officer Kinsinger
proceeded there to make contact with her. (Id. at
9:11-13, 21:13-19, 43:12-13). An unidentified black male was
in the living room with Williams. (Id. at 9:20-21).
When the black male began walking towards the kitchen,
Officers Kinsinger and Fiore asked all three individuals to
gather in the living room. (Id. at 9:21-10:1,
Kinsinger informed Williams that he wanted to search the
residence because he and Officer Fiore had again detected the
smell of burnt marijuana. (Id. at 10:1-6, 10:12-14,
30:23-25). When asked, Williams stated that the only other
individuals present were her four children upstairs.
(Id. at 10:15-16, 31:6-12). Officer Kinsinger
retrieved the children and brought them to the living room.
(Id. at 10:18-11:1, 31:13-20). Officer Kinsinger
then walked back to the kitchen to check for additional
persons. (Id. at 11:4-6, 31:25-32:1). As Officer
Kinsinger approached the kitchen, he observed
Torres-Rodriguez exiting a bathroom and attempting to leave
the residence through a side door. (Id. at 11:6-10).
Torres-Rodriguez complied with Officer Kinsinger's
directive to stop and return to the living room.
(Id. at 11:11-16, 32:1-7). Officer Fiore radioed for
backup due to the number of individuals present.
(Id. at 12:22-23, 33:3-6).
three adult males consented to a pat down for weapons.
(Id. at 12:6-9, 33:8-12). Officer Kinsinger then
informed the group that he wanted to search to determine the
cause of the burnt marijuana smell and ensure there were no
drugs or weapons in the home. (Id. at 11:25-12:5,
32:12-17). He further stated that 1431 Vernon Street was an
approved probation address and the presence of marijuana was
a direct violation of Williams' probation. (Id.
at 11:24-12:2, 24:21-24, 32:14-17). Officer Kinsinger asked
Williams and Torres-Rodriguez for consent to search the home
because he knew both were residents. (Id. at 13:2-6,
22:8-21, 32:17-19). Williams and Torres-Rodriguez each
verbally consented to the search. (Id. at 13:7-9,
22-24, 32:18-19). Torres-Rodriguez then stated that he had
been smoking marijuana when the officers arrived.
(Id. at 13:10-12).
Kinsinger and Fiore searched the home with the additional
police officers who arrived to assist. (Id. at
33:6-7). Officer Fiore discovered a wallet in the living room
containing over $2, 300 bundled in $100 increments and
identification for Williams and Torres-Rodriguez.
(Id. at 14:3-6, 38:13-16, 39:9-18). A street crimes
officer searching the first floor bathroom previously
occupied by Torres-Rodriguez found an electronic scale in the
tank of the toilet. (Id. at 14:9-15, 33:18-21,
34:3-8). The officer also discovered a 32-caliber handgun and
a bundle of heroin in the bathroom trash can. (Id.
at 14:15-16, 33:22-34:2). All three males were placed in
handcuffs. (Id. at 14:18-19, 34:20-21, 34:25-35:4).
Williams was not detained because she was maintaining control
of the children and was not deemed to be a threat to the
officers' safety. (Id. at 34:22-24).
of illicit items transformed the incident from a probation
matter into a police investigation. (Id. at
14:19-20, 15:22-16:3, 34:14-17, 35:8-13). Prior to that
discovery, Officer Fiore and the street crimes officers were
merely assisting Officer Kinsinger as he conducted his
probation function. (Id. at 15:1-21). Officer Fiore
advised everyone in the residence that the situation was now
characterized as a police investigation. (Id. at
35:15-17). He administered Miranda warnings to all
adults in the living room and asked each person individually
if they understood the warnings he had just given.
(Id. at 35:17-36:4). Williams, Torres-Rodriguez, and
the other two adult males each indicated that they understood
the warnings. (Id. at 36:5-15). After determining
Williams and Torres-Rodriguez physically lived in the home,
Officer Fiore explained in detail why he, as a "police
entity, " wanted to continue searching the property.
(Id. at 36:21-25, 38:8-16). He further stated what
the officers had discovered in the bathroom and clarified
that Williams and Torres-Rodriguez could withhold consent and
require the police to seek a warrant. (Id. at
37:2-16). Williams and Torres-Rodriguez consented to the
search. (Id. at 37:1, 37:17-19). Officers
subsequently discovered several small partially burnt
marijuana cigarettes and a single firearm cartridge casing in
the home. (Id. at 39:7-8, 40:7-9).
conclusion of the search, Officer Fiore reminded the adults
of the Miranda warnings and asked if anyone wished
to speak to any of the items found during the probation and
police searches. (Id. at 40:16-20). Williams denied
having any knowledge of the drugs or firearm. (Id.
at 40:20-23). Torres-Rodriguez claimed ownership of the
firearm but not the heroin or the scale found in the
bathroom. (Id. at 40:24-25, 41:6-11).
federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against
Torres-Rodriguez on September 21, 2016. (Doc. 1). The
indictment charges Torres-Rodriguez with one count of
possession with intent to distribute heroin in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Count 1); one count of possession
of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (Count
2); and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance
of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(A) (Count 3). (Doc. 1). Torres-Rodriguez pled not
guilty to all counts. (Doc. 17).
December 20, 2016, Torres-Rodriguez moved to suppress all
evidence found and statements made during the probation check
at his residence on April 30, 2016. (Doc. 29). The court
convened a suppression hearing on September 29, 2017.