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United States v. Shelton

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

January 8, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
JOHNNY L. SHELTON DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID L. BUNNING, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is currently before the Court upon Defendant Johnny L. Shelton's Motion to Suppress the recorded statement he made to law enforcement officers during an interview conducted on November 2, 2016. (Doc. # 90). The Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on September 28, 2017. (Doc. # 95). Defendant was present for the hearing and was represented by Attorney Dennis Alerding. Plaintiff was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Elaine Leonard. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court took the Motion under submission. The Motion is fully briefed (Docs. # 90, 92, and 125), and is ripe for the Court's review. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's Motion to Supress is denied.

         I. ISSUES RAISED

         In his Motion, Defendant moves the Court to suppress the recorded statement he made to law enforcement officers during an interview at the Boone County Detention Center on November 2, 2016. (Doc. # 90). More specifically, Defendant asserts that the statement should be suppressed because the officers threatened him with the prosecution of his wife, who was eventually charged in Boone County Circuit Court. (Doc. # 125). The Defendant also claims that officers were unduly coercive when they informed him that he would be facing a life sentence. Id.

         In response to Defendant's Motion, the Government argues that Defendant's Motion is “legally insufficient, factually unsupported, and borderline frivolous.” (Doc. # 92 at 1). The Government argues that despite Defendant's allegation, his statement was voluntarily given. (Doc. # 92 at 2). The Government asserts that there is no evidence of trickery, deceit, misrepresentations, promises, or threats by the interviewing agents. Id. Instead, the Government argues that “the agents were nothing but candid with the Defendant-about their investigation, the evidence that implicated him, and the potential penalties he faced.” Id.

         II. FINDINGS OF FACT

         During the evidentiary hearing held on September 28, 2017, the Court heard the testimony from two witnesses. The Government called Boone County Detective Dale Shannon Taylor and Defendant testified on his own behalf. Weighing the credibility of the witnesses, and considering the exhibits admitted during the hearing, the Court makes the following factual findings:

1. Defendant Johnny Shelton was interviewed by Boone County Detectives Dale Shannon Taylor and Mark Stidham in the video arraignment room at the Boone County Detention Center on November 2, 2016.
2. Although Defendant was in custody at the time of the interview, he was not handcuffed during the interview.
3. Defendant was advised of his Miranda rights at the beginning of the interview, affirmatively stated that he understood those rights, and agreed to waive those rights by speaking with the Detectives.
4. Defendant was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the interview and Defendant was capable of comprehending the Detectives' questions.
5. Defendant was aware that the interview was being recorded, given that the tape recorder was sitting on top of table in plain view.
6. Near the end of the interview that lasted approximately one hour and twenty minutes, Detective Stidham informed the Defendant that if he failed to tell the truth, the scope of the investigation could be expanded to include the Defendant's family members.
7. Defendant was also told that the Detectives already had evidence, including recorded jail phone calls and the Defendant's own admission earlier in the interview, that his wife had smuggled ...

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