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United States v. Wagoner

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

February 1, 2019




         Defendant Nathan Eugene Wagoner, through counsel, has filed a motion to suppress. D.E. 12. Wagoner seeks “to suppress all evidence seized as a result of the search of the premises located at 7887 Barbourville Road, London, Kentucky, on October 26, 2017.” D.E. 12 at 1. Through his motion, Wagoner argues that the search warrant and search were invalid due to a defective property description. Id. However, because the description of the premises to be searched was sufficient, and because no reasonable probability existed that a mistaken location would be searched, Wagoner's arguments fail. Thus, the undersigned recommends that Wagoner's motion to suppress be DENIED.


         On November 8, 2018, an indictment was returned charging Wagoner with one count of distributing a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and one count of possessing with the intent to distribute fifty grams or more of methamphetamine. D.E. 1 at 1-2. On November 13, Wagoner appeared before the Court for his initial appearance and arraignment, and he pled not guilty. D.E. 7. His trial has been continued generally, pending resolution of his motion to suppress. D.E. 16.

         That motion was filed on December 31, see D.E. 12, and has been referred to the undersigned for a recommended disposition, see D.E. 5. After reviewing the government's response, the Court conducted a scheduling conference to set an evidentiary hearing on Wagoner's motion. See D.E. 19. During that conference, the United States assumed the burden of proof to establish the validity of the warrant and search at issue. Id.

         The evidentiary hearing on Wagoner's motion was held on January 24, 2019. D.E. 21. At that hearing, the United States called Detective Richard Dalrymple to testify.[1] D.E. 20. Defense counsel called Wagoner to testify.[2] See Id. The testimony of both witnesses will be discussed in further detail below.


         According to a copy of the search warrant attached to the government's response, the warrant authorized the search of “the residence of Nathan Wagner[3] 7881 Barbourville Rd., London, KY and all outbuildings and appurtenances on the prop[]erty.” D.E. 15-1 at 1. An attachment to the warrant “more particularly described” the location to be searched as follows:

From the junction of KY HWY 229 and U.S. 25 in London, travel south on KY HWY 229 approximately 7.8 miles to the last lane on the right before Benge's market. Follow the one lane gravel drive to the end, approximately 1/10 mile to beige siding mobile with blue shutters home with an attached covered front porch and an attached back porch sitting to the right of a white metal building.

Id. at 3. Det. Dalrymple was the affiant in support of the application for the search warrant. See Id. at 1.

         At the evidentiary hearing, Det. Dalrymple discussed the manner and method by which he obtained the search warrant on October 26, 2017. He said that law enforcement officers were executing an arrest warrant on Wagoner. Det. Dalrymple said that the officers knew Wagoner was at the mobile home that was ultimately searched because a confidential informant told them that Wagoner was at that location about an hour and a half prior to the officers' arrival. Once the officers were inside the mobile home, they found Wagoner, and they also observed evidence of illegal drugs. Law enforcement used that information, as well as information previously obtained regarding Wagoner, [4] to apply for a search warrant for the mobile home. Several officers remained at the mobile home while Det. Dalrymple left the scene to obtain the search warrant.

         Although no facts are actually in dispute, the evidence at the hearing focused upon the layout and use of several buildings near the mobile home. Det. Dalrymple described multiple structures as being off the same lane, including a house, a garage with an apartment, a white metal outbuilding, and the double-wide trailer that was searched. He said that no street numbers are visible on any of the structures. He further said that several mailboxes stand at the beginning of the lane, but it is impossible to tell which street address shown on each mailbox corresponds with the individual structures. Det. Dalrymple said he was told by another law enforcement officer on site that the address of the mobile home was “7881 Barbourville Road.”

         Det. Dalrymple admitted that the description of the property to be searched was defective in one respect: the color of the mobile home. He acknowledged that the attachment to the warrant says the structure had “beige siding, ” but that upon recent inspection, the mobile home is actually light blue. He explained the mobile home had only been seen at night and looked beige, but that in daylight, it is light blue. Finally, he testified that he does not know whether the property that was searched was 7881 or 7887 Barbourville Road.

         Wagoner's testimony does not differ in any material respects from Det. Dalrymple. For instance, he similarly described multiple buildings as being located off the same lane. Notably, Wagoner also stated that none of the buildings have a visible street number. Rather, the mailboxes for the individual buildings are located at the beginning of the lane. Wagoner said that the mobile home that was searched is his sister's property and that, at the time, he lived in an apartment in one of the other buildings off the same lane. He said the address of the apartment where he was living is ...

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