United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE
Darryl Williams caught word that he was under investigation
for drug trafficking, he tried to stave off what he thought
was an inevitable arrest by attempting to cooperate with
local and federal law enforcement officers. Williams, with
encouragement from his brother and friend, met with law
enforcement on several occasions, hoping to avoid being
charged in state court. Those attempts turned out to be for
naught. After a few months, law enforcement became
uninterested in Williams' help, and months later, a
federal grand jury indicted Williams on charges of conspiracy
to distribute Oxycodone. Williams now seeks to exclude from
evidence the statements he made in those meetings. Because
the statements in question were made in a non-custodial
setting, and thus without the need for Miranda
warnings, Williams' motion to suppress (DE 67) is DENIED.
Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on April 4, 2017. At
the hearing, the United States called two witnesses: Kentucky
State Police Trooper Zach Bryson and DEA Special Agent Ian
Dalrymple. The defense called two witnesses: Pike County
Jailer Freddie Lewis and defendant Darryl Williams.
was at home when his brother, Mike, contacted him with
information that Kentucky State Police Trooper Zach Bryson
had received complaints that Williams was selling
prescription medications. The information came from a good
family friend, Pike County Jailer Freddie Lewis, with whom
Trooper Bryson had discussed Williams' potential criminal
activity. Although the stories are conflicting regarding
events leading up to meetings between Williams and law
enforcement, Williams met with Trooper Bryson at the Kentucky
State Police (“KSP”) Post 9 in Pikeville,
Lewis drove Williams to the Post because Williams had taken
too much Oxycodone that day. On the way, Lewis told Williams
that he needed to tell the truth. In Lewis' mind, the
whole purpose of the meeting was for Williams to cooperate
with Trooper Bryson. And that is what Williams did.
Post, Williams and Trooper Bryson spoke at length. Williams
did not ask for an attorney, nor did anyone prevent him from
contacting one. Trooper Bryson assured Williams that he was
doing the right thing by talking. Trooper Bryson testified
that at no point in the meeting did he threaten Williams with
arrest, but he did tell Williams that it was in his best
interest for him to tell the truth. In contrast, Williams
testified that Trooper Bryson yelled at him about his alleged
activities, but Trooper Bryson denies that any sort of tiff
occurred between the two men.
Williams provided Trooper Bryson with information related to
a drug conspiracy and even touted his previous experience as
a confidential informant. Williams expressed a desire to do
the same kind of work for the KSP. To demonstrate his value
as an informant, Williams showed Trooper Bryson a video on
his phone of Williams making a controlled purchase when he
was allegedly working at the direction of another officer.
According to Williams, Bryson promised that he would face
only state charges if he cooperated. Trooper Bryson testified
that he did not remember if he made such a promise, but
recalls telling Williams that he would be serving as a
cooperating witness to buy off major sources in the drug
trafficking scheme Williams described. Trooper Bryson told
Williams that he would reach back out to Williams. The
meeting then ended and Williams left with Lewis.
Bryson was new to complex drug investigations, so he reached
out to DEA Special Agent Gregory Bunch for help, relaying
what he had learned from Williams at the meeting. Trooper
Bryson then contacted Williams to set up a meeting with
federal agents. Williams testified that he was reluctant at
first, but agreed to meet, thinking that he had no choice to
days later, on June 17, 2016, Williams, admittedly high on
Oxycodone, went back to the KSP Post 9 to talk to law
enforcement. There he met Trooper Bryson, and two other
officers, DEA Special Agent Dalrymple and DEA Task Force
Officer Brian Metzger.
hearing, there was some contention as to whether, upon his
arrival, Williams was met outside by Trooper Bryson. Williams
testified that Trooper Bryson met him outside of the police
post and told Williams that he needed to tell the truth or
risk being arrested. Trooper Bryson did not remember if he
met Williams outside and walked with him into the office or
if Williams walked in by himself. Trooper Bryson was certain,
however, that he never told Williams that he would go to jail
if he did not cooperate. SA Dalrymple testified that Williams
met them at the door of the office and was invited in to
talk. SA Dalrymple also testified that Williams was not
searched, patted down or placed in handcuffs.
June 17th meeting took place in Trooper Bryson's office,
a small room inside a cinderblock building located behind the
main KSP Post. The room, according to SA Dalrymple, was no
bigger than thirty square feet with a few desks spread
throughout, one of which was facing the door. Williams
testified that the room was warm, but had a window
air-conditioning unit. Trooper Bryson testified that the door
to the outside was open for the duration of the meeting.
Trooper Bryson could not recall exactly what he was wearing
that day, but recalled that no weapons were brandished at any
point while he was present during the meeting. SA Dalrymple
and TFO Metzger, who were working under cover, wore plain
clothes and no indicia that they were law enforcement
officers. They were armed, but their weapons were not
visible. SA Dalrymple's badge was tucked into his wallet.
Miranda warnings were read at the beginning of the
meeting. SA Dalrymple testified unequivocally that Williams
was not under arrest. SA Dalrymple stated that he informed
Williams that he was free to leave at any time and that
Williams was under no obligation to talk. SA Dalrymple
testified that it was his practice to give those warnings at
the outset of every meeting where a suspect is not under
arrest and that he does so at the outset to specify the
purpose of the interview. Trooper Bryson corroborated that SA
Dalrymple informed Williams that he was free to leave at any
time and was under no obligation to talk. Williams denies
that he was given that instruction.
the meeting, Williams laid out a great detail of information
related to a drug trafficking operation. SA Dalrymple
observed that Williams was open, honest, and engaged during
the interviews, and was very confident about his ability to
cooperate in the investigation. SA Dalrymple testified that
Williams also described his past work as a paid confidential
is no evidence that voices were raised or that Williams felt
uncomfortable during the meetings or that law enforcement
officers controlled Williams in any way. Williams took smoke
breaks during the meeting. Williams testified that he was
permitted to go outside and smoke, but that he did not walk
out of the sight of the law enforcement officers. There is no
indication that the officers followed Williams outside or
told him that he could not get up to go outside.
was permitted to use his cell phone during the meeting.
Although Williams testified that his cell phone was taken
from him during the meeting, he admitted to using the phone
openly during the interview. At one point, Williams made
plans to meet someone at the local McDonalds for a meal
afterward. Williams testified that SA Dalrymple urged him to
eat because Dalrymple thought Williams was high. Although
Williams testified that officers kept control of his cell
phone during the interview, he admitted that he used it to
make a call. SA Dalrymple testified to having no interest in
Williams' phone at that time and that Williams' phone
was never taken from him.
point, Trooper Bryson left the meeting, leaving the federal
officers alone with Williams. During the entire meeting,
Williams remained unrestrained, and after two to three hours,
the meeting ended. SA Dalrymple testified that it was never
his intention to effect an arrest that day. Williams left on
his own with all of his personal belongings.
days later on June 24, 2016, Williams agreed to meet with SA
Dalrymple again, this time at the DEA Office in London,
Kentucky, a two hour drive from Williams' home in
Pikeville. Because authorities were interested in using
Williams as an informant, SA Dalrymple reached out to various
DEA offices in different areas, indicating that Williams had
information about a large scale drug trafficking scheme that
reached into different states. Accordingly, other officers
attended the meeting.
arrived at the DEA office in London and was admitted to the
premises through a large pressure sensitive security gate.
Officers escorted him in through the back of the facility.
Williams walked with officers through the secured facility,
passing a few holding cells on his way to the interview room
where several DEA officers, including SA Dalrymple, were
waiting for him. Williams was patted down at some point
before the meeting began, all in accordance with DEA policy.
The interview room was small and cramped with people. The
door to the outside hallway was open and remained open
throughout the interview. Williams was unrestrained, and none
of the officers brandished weapons.
interview began without Williams being read Miranda
warnings. Like before, SA Dalrymple testified that Williams
was told that he was free to leave at any time and under no
obligation to talk. According to SA Dalrymple, Williams was
not threatened with arrest if he did not talk, but Williams
was told that it was important that he tell the truth because
what was said during the interviews would be provided to the
prosecuting attorney in the investigation. Williams proceeded
to talk with law enforcement. During the interview,
Williams' fingerprints were taken as part of the process
to vet him as a potential confidential informant.
testified that during the meeting, his phones were taken from
him. SA Dalrymple did not take them himself, but stated
instead that Williams' phones may have been searched.
Williams later admitted that he signed various papers during
the meeting and testified that he gave the officers
permission to take the phones to download certain
information, including certain ...