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United States v. Williams

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville

July 24, 2017




         Defendant Darryl Williams filed a motion asking this Court to reconsider, DE 116, the Court's Opinion and Order of May 3, 2017, DE 91, which denied Williams' motion to suppress. On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, the Court held a pretrial conference and considered Williams' motion to reconsider. The Court, out of an abundance of caution, indicated it would consider additional testimony from Pike County Jailer Freddie Lewis before rendering a decision. Id. That rehearing was scheduled for June 19, 2017, in Pikeville, but was subsequently cancelled, DE 129, after Williams determined that Lewis “would be unable to provide any new and material evidence to the Court.” DE 127, at 1. Accordingly, having dispensed with the need for additional evidence and argument, this matter is now ripe for review. For the following reasons, the Court will deny Williams' motion.


         The facts in this case have been told before. DE 91, at 2-7; United States v. Williams, No 7:16-15-KKC-EBA-1, 2017 WL 1731702, at *1-*4 (E.D. Ky. May 3, 2017). The Court will only hit the highlights pertinent to the motion for reconsideration here. Kentucky State Police Trooper Zach Bryson received complaints from the community that Williams was selling prescription medications. Keen on investigating the matter, Trooper Bryson discussed what he knew with Williams' good friend, Pike County Jailer Freddie Lewis. Lewis talked with Williams' brother, Mike, and told him about Trooper Bryson's investigation. Mike told Williams about his conversation with Lewis, and, after some reluctance, Williams agreed to meet with Trooper Bryson. That same day, Lewis drove Williams to the Kentucky State Police Post #9 in his 2015 Chevy Tahoe, the same vehicle Lewis used to transport prisoners for the jail. Williams sat in the front seat. On the way to the KSP Post, the two talked about Trooper Bryson's investigation. For Lewis, “the whole point and reason of the [first] meeting at Post 9 was to try to [] go and try to cooperate because [Williams knew] what[] was coming.” DE 107, p. 63, ¶¶ 5-8.

         Williams and Lewis walked into the KSP Post together around 2:00 p.m. Trooper Bryson's office was located in a small room inside a cinderblock building that sat behind the main KSP Post. The room was no larger than thirty square feet. The summer-time heat warmed the room, but the office had a window air-conditioning unit, and the door to the outside was open for the duration of the time Williams and Lewis met with Trooper Bryson.

         Trooper Bryson did not place Williams under arrest and did not prevent him from leaving the meeting. At no point did Trooper Bryson read Williams Miranda warnings. Williams testified that Trooper Bryson “chewed him out” about the alleged criminal activity. Trooper Bryson denies anything of the sort. No matter, the meeting proceeded informally. Williams was unrestrained and took several smoke breaks during the meeting.

         Williams spoke at length with Trooper Bryson and provided information related to a drug conspiracy. Williams also bragged about his previous experience as a confidential informant and even showed Trooper Bryson a video on his phone of him making controlled purchases. Williams made it clear to Trooper Bryson that he wanted to do the same in whatever current investigation the trooper was conducting. Lewis was present during the meeting, but did not question Williams or otherwise participate. Lewis recalled “sitting there thinking to [himself] that [Williams was] doing the right thing . . . He [was] actually telling the truth, and he [came] out trying to get ahead of this.” DE 107, p. 62, ¶¶ 6-10.

         The meeting ended around 5:00 p.m. Williams provided Trooper Bryson with a good amount of information, so much so that Trooper Bryson reached out to DEA Special Agent Gregory Bunch for help, relaying to the federal officer what he had learned from Williams at the meeting. DE 107, at 13 (“I told Special Agent Bunch that basically, you know, I had a guy coming in to post who confessed to selling pills, to sponsoring people to go to a doctor, paying their visits, and for medication to be filled.”). Williams was not arrested. Instead, Williams and Lewis went to the local Long John Silvers for a meal.


         Williams' motion for reconsideration does not dispute any of the legal analysis in this Court's previous opinion. He does not dispute the Court's finding that he was not “in custody” for the purposes of Miranda with regard to the June 17 meeting between Williams, Trooper Bryson, and two other officers, DEA Special Agent Dalrymple and DEA Task Force Officer Brian Metzger. DE 91, at 9-13. Nor does Williams dispute the Court's finding that he was not “in custody” for the purposes of Miranda with regard to the June 24 meeting between Williams and DEA Special Agent Dalrymple at the London, Kentucky DEA office. DE 91, at 14-16. Instead, Williams' motion to reconsider zeroes in on the initial meeting among him, Trooper Bryson, and Lewis.[1]

         Williams asserts that the “Court fail[ed] to recognize the fact that there were two law enforcement officers involved” when Lewis first drove Williams to meet with Trooper Bryson. R. 116 at 1-2. Williams argues, because Lewis drove him to the initial meeting with Trooper Bryson, that meeting became inherently coercive because Lewis had the ability to arrest Williams. DE 116, at 2 (“Indeed, Jailer Lewis was and is a peace officer with full powers of arrest.”). In essence, Williams now argues that Lewis and Trooper Bryson “colluded” to get information out of Williams. This “collusion, ” as the Court understands the argument, transforms the initial meeting into a custodial interrogation requiring the suppression of all statements made to Trooper Bryson because they were made without Williams having been read any Miranda rights. Such a theory is unsupported by the facts and finds no refuge in the law. Williams' motion for reconsideration, DE 116, therefore must be denied.


         As an initial matter, this argument is not properly before the Court. Williams did not raise the prospect of a constitutional violation during the initial meeting among himself, Lewis, and Trooper Bryson in his original motion to suppress. Nowhere in his filings did Williams argue that the first meeting violated his constitutional rights. Instead, the original motion (and as a result, the Court's original opinion) focused solely on the June 17 and June 24 meetings.

         “[C]ourts adjudicating [motions to reconsider] in criminal cases typically evaluate such motions under the same standards applicable to a civil motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e).” United States v. Rowe, No. 5:19-19-KSF, 2013 WL 3213079, at *2 (E.D. Ky. June 24, 2013) (citing United States v. Canal Bridge Co., Inc., No. 4:07-CR-12-JHM, at * 1 (W.D. Ky. Mar. 4, 2009) (collecting cases)). A motion pursuant to Rule 59(e) may be granted if there is: “(1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.” Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir.2005). Rule 59(e), however, ...

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