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United States v. Davis

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 12, 2018

IKLAS DAVIS, Defendant.


          Nora Barry Fischer United States District Judge

         AND NOW, this 12th day of June, 2018, upon consideration of Defendant Iklas Davis' Motion to Vacate Orders of Detention, (Crim. No. 17-271, Docket No. [37]), the Government's Response in opposition thereto (Crim. No. 17-271, Docket No. [39]) and after conducting a de novo review of the detention order issued by United States Magistrate Lisa Pupo Lenihan on November 27, 2017, (Crim. No. 17-271, Docket No. [25]), including a review of the evidence presented to Magistrate Judge Lenihan during the detention hearing held on November 20, 2017, consisting of the Bond Report prepared by Pretrial Services, Government Exhibits 1-5, (Crim. No. 17-271, Docket Nos. 39-1:39-5), and the transcript of the proceedings before Magistrate Judge Lenihan on November 20, 2017, (Crim. No. 17-271, Docket No. 37-2), during which the Government presented the testimony of Special Agent Brian Chomicki of the U.S. Secret Service and the defense presented the testimony of Kendralla Rochelle, the mother of his fiancé, Quinyahta Rochelle, and counsel's proffer of supporting character letters, photographs and employment related exhibits, which were summarized by Magistrate Judge Lenihan in her findings, and the subsequent order entered by Magistrate Judge Lenihan on April 2, 2018 at Criminal No. 18-14 granting the Government's motion for detention “pending further consideration if and when the issue of bond becomes relevant, ” (Crim. No. 18-41, Docket No. 16), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Davis' Motion [37] is DENIED. In so holding, the Court makes the following findings:

         1. Davis' request for an evidentiary hearing before this Court is denied because the evidentiary record as to the issue of pretrial detention was fully developed before Magistrate Judge Lenihan, see United States v. Delker, 757 F.2d 1390 (3d Cir. 1985), and “[t]his court may make its independent determination” on the issue of pretrial detention “based solely upon the evidence introduced at the prior hearing.” United States v. Burgess, 2008 WL 2038148 at *2 (W.D. Pa. Jul. 8, 2009) (McVerry, J.) (quoting United States v. Farris, 2008 WL 1944141, at * 7 (W.D. Pa. 2008)). Further, Davis has not proffered any additional evidence which was not presented to Magistrate Judge Leinhan and would support his requested release on bond such that a detention hearing before this Court is unnecessary.

         2. This Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Lenihan's determination that there is probable cause to believe that Davis committed the offense charged in the Indictment at Criminal No. 17-271, i.e., possession of firearms and ammunition on July 27, 2016 in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), based on the grand jury's return of same. See United States v. Suppa, 799 F.2d 115, 119 (3d Cir. 1986) (“an indictment is a sufficient substitute for a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause.”); see also United States v. Gibson, 481 F.Supp.2d 419, 422 (W.D. Pa. 2007) (citing Suppa). On this date it is alleged that, despite his prior felony status, Davis was unlawfully in possession of all of the following: a Black Rain Ordinance, model Fallout 15 rifle, .223 caliber and .223 caliber ammunition; a Ruger, model LCP, pistol, .38 caliber and .38 caliber ammunition; and a Taurus, model 856 Hy-Lite Revoler, .38 special, and .38 caliber ammunition. (Crim. No. 17-271, Docket No. 1). Similarly, the grand jury's return of the second indictment filed at Criminal No. 18-41 provides probable cause that he committed another violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) on October 13, 2017, by possessing a Ruger .45 caliber pistol and .45 caliber ammunition. (Crim. No. 18-41, Docket No. 1).

         3. Given the nature of the charges, there is no presumption of detention in this case, with the Government retaining the burden to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions or combination of conditions which will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3142(e)(1), (f)(e).

         4. The Court further agrees with Magistrate Judge Lenihan's conclusion that the Government has presented clear and convincing evidence that pretrial detention was and is appropriately ordered. See United States v. Gibson, 481 F.Supp.2d 419 (W.D. Pa. 2007) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)) (“the facts employed to support detention must ‘be supported by clear and convincing evidence.'”). In reaching these decisions, the Court has conducted an independent examination of the record evidence and balanced the four factors set forth under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g), i.e.,

a. The nature and circumstances of the offenses charged;
b. The weight of the evidence against the person;
c. The history and characteristics of the person; and,
d. The nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the defendant's release.

         This Court finds that, on balance, the evidence presented at the detention hearing favors the Government on each of these cited factors.

         5. First, Davis has been indicted for two serious firearms offenses, the convictions for which subject him to up to 10 years' incarceration at each count, for a total of up to 20 years' incarceration. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The grand jury alleges that Davis possessed two rifles, a pistol and ammunition for each firearm on June 27, 2016 upon the execution of a state search warrant at his residence and that he possessed another pistol and ammunition on October 13, 2017, when a federal search warrant was executed at his residence. (See Crim. No. 17-271, Docket No. 1; Crim. No. 18-41, Docket No. 1). As such, this factor weighs against Davis.

         6. Second, the evidence presented by the Government at the detention hearing, including the testimony of Special Agent Brian Chomicki and the admitted exhibits, appears to be strong regarding both firearms offenses. (Docket No. 37-2). It is uncontested that Davis was previously convicted of a felony, making his knowing possession of any firearm or ammunition a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The Government proffers that Defendant allegedly made statements implicating himself as to the possession of firearms during both of the searches at the residence. With respect to the first search on July 27, 2016, Davis allegedly told Detective Ellis upon their entry that there was a “gun in the nightstand, ” and the agents subsequently located a Taurus .38 special, loaded with 6 rounds of .38 ammunition in that location. (Govt. Ex. 1, Docket No. 39-1). Davis was read his Miranda rights and asked to talk to his lawyer prior to any questions but volunteered that he had been shot 13 times, showed the law enforcement officers his wounds and said he needed to protect himself. (Id.). He also allegedly made a comment to officers that if he hadn't heard and seen the SWAT team, he would have found his firearm and started shooting to protect himself. (Govt. Ex. 2, Docket No. 39-2). In addition, Davis' fiancé signed a waiver of rights form and voluntarily spoke to agents, telling them that the pistol and one of the rifles seized by the officers during the search belonged to her parents. (Govt. Ex. 1, Docket No. 39-1). According to agents, upon hearing this exchange, Defendant interjected that the firearms were his own. (Id.).

         As to the October 12, 2017 search, Davis purportedly waived his Miranda rights, executed a waiver of rights form and provided a lengthy statement to the responding agents. (Govt. Ex. 4, Docket No. 39-4). This questioning largely focused on Davis' alleged engagement in offenses with which he has yet to be charged federally and are more fully discussed in the next section below. (Id.). But, when asked if there was anything else illegal in the house, David told the officers that there was a firearm in the master bedroom closet. (Id.). He allegedly said that he picked up the firearm when he heard something this morning and then put it back when he realized that it was the police at the house. (Id.). He explained that the firearm was his cousin's, that they were recently at a shooting range together, and the cousin left the firearm at the ...

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