United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
REBECCA GRADY JENNINGS, DISTRICT JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Dwayne
Sheckles's Motion to Suppress Evidence. [DE 90]. Briefing
is complete, and the Motion is ripe. [See DE 95; DE
101]. For the reasons below, the Court
DENIES Sheckles's Motion.
2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration's Louisville
District Office (“LDO”) and Louisville Metro
Narcotics (“Metro Narcotics”) began investigating
potential drug trafficking activities allegedly involving
Sheckles. [DE 1, Compl. at 3]. Law enforcement obtained a
tracking warrant that “pinged” the location of
Sheckles's mobile phone, eventually leading them to
Crescent Centre Apartments (“Crescent Centre”),
located at 644 South 3rd Street in Louisville, Kentucky. [DE
56, Tr. Supp. Hearing Vol. I at 193:16-19].
11, 2017, Detectives Evans and Bowling observed
Sheckles's rented Ford Expedition parked in Crescent
Centre's secure parking garage. [DE 1, Compl. at 3].
Detectives Evans and Bowling physically entered the parking
garage on that date. [DE 56, Tr. Supp. Hearing Vol. I at
12th, Detective Evans spoke with Crescent Centre management,
which informed him of an anonymous complaint that drugs were
being sold from Apartment 234. [Id. at 194:18- 25,
195:1-4]. Detective Evans reviewed surveillance footage of
the parking garage and observed Sheckles exiting his vehicle
in Apartment 234's designated space. [Id. at
195:7-19]. Crescent Centre management then brought Detective
Evans to view a nearby vacant apartment, where Detective
Evans “smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from
234.” [Id. at 280:18-23].
LDO and Metro Narcotics observed Sheckles leaving Crescent
Centre and conducted an investigative stop. [DE 1 at 3]. DEA
Agent Sanders and members of Metro Narcotics smelled
marijuana coming from the vehicle. [Id.]. K-9
handler Detective Brett Hankison received a positive
indication from K-9 Franklin on the vehicle. [Id.].
Upon search of the vehicle, Detective Hankison recovered a
handgun from the center console. [Id.].
13th, Officer Evans applied for and received a warrant to
search Apartment 234 based on probable cause established
prior to the July 12th stop. [Id. at 3-4]. During
the search, LDO seized approximately 1, 565 grams of
suspected heroin and 144 grams of crystal methamphetamine.
[Id. at 4]. LDO also seized two handguns and an AR
15 rifle. [Id.]. Later that day, the United States
filed a criminal complaint against Sheckles on charges
related to drug possession and trafficking, and gun
possession. [DE 1; DE 22; DE 98].
January 16, 2018, Sheckles moved to suppress, among other
things, the Crescent Centre search. [DE 33 at 117-20]. Then,
on August 31, 2018, Sheckles moved to suppress cell phones
seized during a separate incident in March 2017. [DE 68]. The
Court referred the motions to Magistrate Judge Lindsay who,
after a two-day evidentiary hearing, recommended in a
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation
(“R&R”) that the Court deny both motions in
their entirety. [DE 78]. Sheckles filed timely objections to
the R&R. [DE 79]. The Court overruled Sheckles's
objections and adopted the R&R without modification. [DE
April 2, 2019, Sheckles filed a second Motion to Suppress
Evidence related to the Crescent Centre search warrant. [DE
90]. The United States filed a timely response [DE 95], and
Sheckles filed a timely reply [DE 101].
argues that fruits of the Crescent Centre search warrant
should be suppressed because Detectives Evans and Bowling
unlawfully entered the Crescent Centre parking garage on July
11th. [DE 90 at 465]. Sheckles asserts that the
detectives' observation of Sheckles's vehicle parked
in Apartment 234's designated space formed a critical
part of the probable cause supporting the search warrant.
[Id.]. Specifically, Sheckles claims that “the
only alleged probable cause to search the apartment came from
the unlawful access into the locked parking garage, which led
to Evans discovering Sheckles'[s] vehicle parked in a
spot for a particular apartment number, which led to
questioning management about that apartment, which led to
learning of the complaint about drug use in that
apartment.” [Id. at 466-67]. Thus, according
to Sheckles, any evidence originating from the unlawful
parking-garage search, including the traffic stop and search
warrant, must be suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree.
[Id. at 467].
United States opposes Sheckles's motion in its entirety
and argues that “the earlier two-day evidentiary
hearing on suppression offers ample evidence of the
sufficiency of the probable cause supporting the search
warrant for the Crescent Centre apartment, ” and thus
law enforcement had independent sources of information to
support the warrant. [DE 95 at 492-93].
independent[-]source rule holds that evidence will be
admitted if the government shows that it was discovered
through sources ‘wholly independent of any
constitutional violation.'” United States v.
Jenkins, 396 F.3d 751, 757 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting
United States v. Leake, 95 F.3d 409, 412 (6th Cir.
1996)). In deciding whether the independent-source rule
allows the admission of evidence that would otherwise be
excluded, courts “should keep in mind the underlying
question: ‘whether, granting establishment of the
primary illegality, [the evidence has] been come at by the
exploitation of the illegality or instead by means
sufficiently distinguishable to be purged of the primary
taint.'” Leake, 95 F.3d at 412 (quoting
Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 488
(1963)). “If the application for a warrant contains
probable cause apart from the improper information, then the
warrant is lawful and the independent[-]source doctrine
applies, providing that the officers were not prompted to
obtain the warrant by what they observed during the initial
entry.” Jenkins, 396 F.3d at 758 ...