United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND
Brent Brennenstuhl United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is the motion of Defendant Ajani John Stevens to
suppress evidence (DN 17). The United States responded in
opposition (DN 18). The District Judge referred the motion to
the undersigned to conduct any necessary evidentiary hearing
and submit a Report and Recommendation for disposition of the
motion (DN 19). The undersigned conducted an evidentiary
hearing on July 22, 2019 and the transcript of testimony is
of record at ¶ 25. The United States filed a
post-hearing memorandum at ¶ 27 and Stevens filed a
memorandum at ¶ 28. The matter now stands fully briefed.
of the Criminal Charges
was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in the Western District
of Kentucky and charged with the offense of being a felon in
possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1), 942(a)(2) and 924(e)(1) (DN 1).
Specifically, the indictment alleges that Stevens was
previously convicted of felony offenses in Cook County
Circuit Court in Illinois in 1996, 2004 and 2010 and
thereafter knowingly possessed a Lorcin .25 caliber
firearm was discovered during a police search of a vehicle
Stevens was driving, and he seeks suppression of the firearm
at the Evidentiary Hearing
Ann Dycus represented the United States at the hearing, and
Stevens' appointed counsel, Laura R. Wyrosdick, appeared
on his behalf. Stevens was present during the hearing but
elected not to testify. The United States called two
witnesses, Kentucky State Police Troopers Jeremy Duvall and
Duvall testified that on July 26, 2018 he was engaged in
regular patrol of interstate 65 in Warren County when he
observed a vehicle traveling in the middle lane of the
divided three-lane highway which “appeared to be going
much slower than the traffic around it” (DN 25, p. 5).
He also noted that the vehicle had excessively dark window
tinting which, based upon his training and experience, he
believed was in violation of a state statute. Finally, he
observed that the license plate had an aftermarket accessory
which obscured the identity of the issuing state, also a
violation of state statute. He briefly followed Stevens and
executed a traffic stop based upon the window tinting and
obscured license plate observations.
was the sole occupant of the vehicle. Trooper Duvall asked
him for his driver's license, which Stevens was unable to
produce. Trooper Duvall asked for his name and understood him
to say “John Stevens” and Stevens provided his
date of birth. Stevens told Trooper Duvall that he was
traveling from Atlanta Georgia and that he believed he had a
valid license issued by Illinois. The vehicle registration
documents were not in his name. Stevens told Trooper Duvall
it belonged to his mother.
Duvall then returned to his vehicle and began communicating
with his dispatch to see if he could verify whether Stevens
had a valid driver's license. Dispatch was unable to
locate any records, so Trooper Duvall obtained additional
information from Stevens, including his social security
number. It appears there may have been some confusion between
Stevens and Trooper Duvall as to whether Stevens told him his
first name was “John” or “Ajani.”
While Trooper Duvall was attempting to determine Stevens'
license status, KSP Trooper Lawless arrived on scene. At that
point, Trooper Duvall asked Stevens to exit the vehicle.
“We still don't know who he is, we know the
vehicle's not his, and we're unsure about his
identity. So, we want to get him out, do a Terry
frisk, and ask for consent to search.”
(DN 25, p. 11, ln. 13-15).
Duvall conducted a Terry frisk and then asked
Stevens for permission to search the car.
Q. “And going back to the consent issue, explain that
to us. How did you obtain consent to search the vehicle?
A. It was - he was outside his vehicle. A Terry
frisk had been conducted. He was submitted to that. And while
I discussed - we were between my patrol vehicle and his car,
safely off the - kind of out of the traffic pattern. Trooper
Lawless was in the area - not necessarily right on top of us,
but he was in the area - standing by. And I asked for verbal
consent to search, and Mr. Stevens granted that.
Q. Did you ask Mr. Stevens if he had any illegal items in the
A. I did.
Q. And what did he say?
A. I asked for items such as weapons or any kind of open
alcohol. He denied any weapons in the vehicle but did state
he had open alcohol containers.
Q. And where specifically did he say that open ...