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United States v. Waide

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

April 8, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
QUINICINO L. WAIDE and DOROTHY MAE WAIDE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Quinicino Waide and Dorothy Waide's (“Defendants”) Motion to Suppress (DE 55), which seeks to suppress all evidence supporting the charges against them. The Court held a Suppression Hearing to consider evidence relating to the Defendants' Motion. At that Hearing, defense counsel requested to file a supplemental brief further addressing the suppression issues, and the Court granted their request. (DE 63). The Court has reviewed the parties' briefs and the Court's Suppression Hearing transcript. For the reasons stated below, the Defendants' Motion to Suppress (DE 55) is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Defendants were charged with a series of crimes after police secured and executed search warrants on the units of their duplex. The investigation culminating in the arrests of the Defendants began after firefighters and police were alerted to a shed fire that occurred at their neighbor's property. (DE 65 Supp. Hr'g Tr. at 4-5.) Captain Chris O'Bryan, an arson investigator, was assigned to attempt to determine the origin and cause of the fire. (DE 65 at 4.)

         The shed fire was called in at 4:40 a.m. on July 23, 2018. (DE 65 at 30.) O'Bryan was called to the scene by fire crews and arrived at 5:30 a.m. the same morning. (DE 65 at 6.) O'Bryan spoke with the incident commander upon his arrival, who told him that items had been removed from the shed and appeared to have been set on fire. (DE 65 at 5.) The incident commander further informed O'Bryan that the house on the property was vacant and possibly used by squatters. (DE 65 at 5.) O'Bryan continued his investigation by looking around the area and attempting to locate potential witnesses. During his search, O'Bryan noticed sophisticated cameras mounted to a neighboring property-the duplex occupied by the Defendants. (DE 65 at 6.) At the time, no one appeared to be around. O'Bryan's investigation was briefly halted when he had to leave the scene to attend court on an unrelated matter. (DE 65 at 6.)

         Later that day, O'Bryan returned to continue his investigation. Upon arrival, O'Bryan came into contact with Dorothy Waide, who was on the sidewalk outside her home. (DE 65 at 10.) O'Bryan asked Dorothy where she lived and whether she had seen anything the night of the fire. Dorothy identified her residence as Apartment 1 of the duplex neighboring the shed fire. (DE 65 at 10-11.) O'Bryan asked Dorothy about the cameras and asked if she had any video surveillance from the night of the fire. She replied that the cameras belonged to her son, Quinicino. (DE 65 at 11.) She further stated that all the equipment was upstairs in Apartment 3 of the duplex and that he probably would not release the footage. (DE 65 at 11.)

         Dorothy assisted O'Bryan in trying to locate the 911 caller who reported the fire. (DE 65 at 11-12.) O'Bryan located the home of the caller, which was across the street from the shed fire. (DE 65 at 12.) O'Bryan spoke to a woman who identified herself as the 911 caller's mother. (DE 65 at 12.) She informed O'Bryan that her son called in the fire and that he had left for a visit to Las Vegas, Nevada. (DE 65 at 12.)

         Dorothy Waide then took O'Bryan over to an individual who knew the owner of the property. (DE 65 at 31.) O'Bryan contacted the owner, Andrea Wallace, and informed her of the fire. (DE 65 at 31-32.) O'Bryan asked her about the contents of the shed. She replied that they were sentimental items from her deceased mother, including some antiques, a motorcycle, and a typewriter. (DE 65 at 32-33 and 44.) O'Bryan told her to ask around and see if anybody had any information regarding the fire. (DE 65 at 33.)

         Shortly thereafter, O'Bryan came into contact with Quinicino near his home. (DE 65 at 12-13.) O'Bryan testified that he smelled an odor of marijuana coming from Quinicino. (DE 65 at 14.) O'Bryan asked Quinicino where he lived, and he identified that he lived in Apartment 3 of the duplex neighboring the shed fire. (DE 65 at 13.) O'Bryan explained his investigation and asked whether there was any way he could review the video surveillance footage from the night of the fire. (DE 65 at 13.) Quinicino refused to release the footage. (DE 65 at 13.) Following this encounter, O'Bryan concluded his investigation for the day.

         The following day, July 24, 2018, O'Bryan resumed his investigation. That morning, he spoke again with the victim, Wallace. (DE 65 at 31.) Wallace informed him that someone had observed a vehicle drive up near the property just prior to the fire and saw them removing items from the shed. (DE 65 at 31.) She further stated that her ex-husband was vindictive and could be responsible for the fire. (DE 65 at 32-33.) The anniversary of her mother's death was the day prior, so she thought there might be a connection. (DE 65 at 33.)

         O'Bryan applied for a search warrant to collect the DVR and recording device (“DVR Warrant”) from Quinicino's home in attempt to determine if the video footage contained any information related to the fire. (DE 65 at 14.) Thereafter, O'Bryan-in accordance with routine procedures-contacted the Lexington Police Department to help him execute the warrant. (DE 65 at 15.) Upon asking for assistance, based on the smell of marijuana on Quinicino and location of the home, the Police Department told O'Bryan to contact the lieutenant from narcotics. (DE 65 at 15 and 46.)

         Two narcotics officers, Detectives Jared Curtsinger and Matthew Evans, met up with O'Bryan and other fire investigators near the Defendants' home. (DE 65 at 15-16.) They attempted to execute the DVR Warrant on Apartment 3 of the duplex, but no one was home. (DE 65 at 16.) Noticing that Dorothy's car was in the driveway, O'Bryan made contact and asked if she could call Quinicino to come to the scene. (DE 65 at 16.) She did, and Quinicino arrived shortly thereafter. (DE 65 at 16.)

         Quinicino pulled up to the home with his cousin, Vance Waide. (DE 65 at 17-18.) Officers explained that they were there to execute a search warrant for the DVR and recording equipment. (DE 65 at 18.) At that time, Quinicino told officers that he could just go up to the apartment and get the recording equipment for them. (DE 65 at 18.) Officers informed Quinicino that they already had taken the steps to secure a warrant and intended to execute it. (DE 65 at 18.)

         Officers then asked Quinicino if he had any marijuana or other drugs in the apartment. (DE 65 at 18.) Quinicino advised that he had a little marijuana in the apartment. (DE 65 at 18 and 124.) Curtsinger then walked over to Quinicino's vehicle, which was parked on the public street outside the home. (DE 55-4 at 5.) The windows of the vehicle were down, and Curtsinger smelled marijuana emanating from his car. (DE 55-4 at 5.) Curtsinger located a burnt marijuana cigarette and grinder in the console area. (DE 55-4 at 5.) Based on his findings and Quinicino's admission, Curtsinger decided to leave the residence to get another search warrant for Apartment 3. (DE 65 at 19.) Some time during this interaction, Quinicino was detained by officers. (DE 65 at 18, 92-93, and 103.)

         Everyone else remained at the residence. Quinicino remained detained, but Dorothy and Vance were free to move in and out of Apartment 1. (DE 65 at 19.) Officers were told there was no access from Apartment 1 to Apartment 3. (DE 65 at 76.) While waiting for Curtsinger's return, Vance and Quinicino were observed having a series of hushed communications. (DE 65 at 19-20.) Vance and Dorothy were also observed going back and forth in and out of Apartment 1. (DE 65 at 19-20.)

         Then, Vance and Dorothy entered and remained in Apartment 1. (DE 65 at 60-61.) The door to the apartment was shut and the blinds were closed. (DE 65 at 61 and 75.) The officers and fire investigators continued to observe from outside the home while waiting for Curtsinger to return. (DE 65 at 61 and 75-76.)

         One of the fire investigators, Lieutenant Anthony Johnson, informed the other individuals at the scene that he had heard loud banging coming from inside Apartment 1 that sounded like the ceiling was being pulled down. (DE 65 at 21, 63, and 75.) He additionally observed the drip line pipes from an air conditioner connected to Apartment 3 moving substantially. (DE 65 at 62.) He then informed O'Bryan that he believed someone was in Apartment 3. (DE 65 at 63.) At that time, officers got the key and entered Apartment 3. (DE 65 at 22 and 77.)

         Evans began clearing the apartment to make sure no one was in Apartment 3. (DE 65 at 78.) In his sweep, he encountered a large hole, approximately four-by-four feet, leading up from Apartment 1. (DE 65 at 23 and 79.) Through the hole, Evans observed dry wall and insulation scattered across the kitchen floor of Apartment 1 and a step ladder leading up to Apartment 3. (DE 65 at 79.) Officers promptly ran down to make sure no one was fleeing from Apartment 1 or destroying evidence. (DE 65 at 23 and 49.)

         Upon entry of Apartment 1, the bathroom and kitchen sinks were overflowing and clogged with a white substance. (DE 65 at 82 and 85.) The occupants were detained and escorted out of the residence. (DE 65 at 82.) Evans turned off both sinks and went outside to wait for Curtsinger to return with the search warrants. (DE 65 at 82.) Officers still had yet to search either apartment. (DE 65 at 84.)

         Approximately two hours later, Curtsinger returned with search warrants (Narcotics Warrants) for Apartment 1 and Apartment 3. (DE 65 at 40.) He had been in contact with Evans who relayed him information from the scene. (DE 65 at 104.) They executed the warrants on both apartments, found a firearm, large quantities of money and drugs, and collected the DVR. (DE 65 at 52 and 90.)

         Defendants Quinicino and Dorothy now move this Court to suppress all evidence against them. (DE 55 and 56). They assert the following: (1) the DVR Warrant lacks probable cause, is overly broad, and was not the least intrusive means available to obtain the camera system; (2) all evidence found during the execution of the DVR Warrant must be suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree; (3) the Defendant's Miranda rights were violated; and (4) exigent circumstances cannot justify police entry. (DE 55 and 69.) At the Suppression Hearing, the Court heard further arguments and evidence regarding the suppression issues. The Court considers the parties' arguments below.

         II. ...


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