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United States v. Hoyer

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

October 18, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Johnathan Hoyer's (“Hoyer”) Motion to Suppress Evidence (the “Motion to Suppress”). [DE 18]. The Court held an evidentiary hearing and the matter is now ripe. [DE 26]. For the reasons below, the Court will GRANT Mr. Hoyer's Motion to Suppress [DE 18].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 18, 2019, Kentucky State Police (“KSP”) Detective Zack Morris responded to an advertisement posted by Hoyer on Double List seeking to engage in sexual acts with a “woman.” [DE 27 at 71, 88]. Over a five to six-day period, Detective Morris, working undercover, “chatted” with Hoyer as “Brittany, ” a 41-year-old female, and “Autumn, ” Brittany's underage daughter. Id. at 71-72, 82. The conversations were overtly sexual. Id. Hoyer eventually agreed to meet them in the Jeffersontown area of Louisville, Kentucky. Id.

         On April 24, 2018, Hoyer traveled to meet Brittney and Autumn, but instead KSP Detectives met Hoyer and “secured” him. Id. at 75. They placed Hoyer in the front passenger seat of the KSP interview van. Id. at 72, 77. Detective Morris and Lieutenant Mike Bowling interviewed Hoyer. Id. at 78. Hoyer told the detectives he wanted to cooperate and spoke freely. Id. at 83.

         After the detectives asked Hoyer for his identifying information, they asked him, “Why are we here?” [DE 29, Exhibit 1, 00:15-1:35]. In response, Hoyer explained that he was there because a “woman answered one of [his] ads . . . [he] was having a little bit of fun . . . when she answered [him] . . . how about a girl, a woman and her daughter . . . at first [he] was like . . .what? So [they] talked and [they] talked . . . [He] had literally every intention of showing up [there] and kinda talking to her, maybe she had issues and so forth because again [he has] an eight-year old son [himself] so . . . [he] wasn't.” Id. at 1:36-2:14. Detective Morris then asked Hoyer about the ad he had posted, asked for the woman's name, and asked follow-up questions about the woman's underage daughter. Id. at 2:15-2:50. Hoyer answered all of Detective Morris' questions and admitted that Brittney essentially propositioned him to have sex with both her and her daughter. Id. at 3:10-3:35. Detective Morris also asked him what he spoke with Brittney about, and Hoyer said that he was “going to perform oral sex on both her and her daughter . . . but . . . [he] was playing along with the fact that again the way the conversation was occurring . . . [he] could tell it was the same person . . . so [he] just thought ok she had some weird, fun fetish at that point.” Id. at 3:50-4:15.

         More than four minutes into the interrogation, Detective Morris stated to Hoyer that “I'm going to read you your rights, ok. And something we gotta do for paperwork and stuff . . . consent and all that kind of stuff.” [DE 29, Exhibit 1, 4:22-4:30]. Detective Morris then stated “You are not under arrest. We're just here to talk to you.” [DE 29, Exhibit 1, 4:32-4:35]. The Detective gave Hoyer his Miranda rights and obtained a signed waiver. Id. Detective Morris testified that he did not intentionally delay giving Hoyer his Miranda rights; rather, it was a “lapse in judgment.” [DE 27 at 84]. After Detective Morris read Hoyer his Miranda rights, Hoyer continued to speak to the detectives about the incident and his conversations with Brittney and Autumn. The interrogation lasted 1 hour, 27 minutes, and 34 seconds. [DE 29, Exhibit 1].

         The grand jury charged Hoyer with attempted enticement. [DE 1]. Hoyer has now moved to suppress his statements. [DE 18]. The Court held a suppression hearing [DE 26], and the parties filed post-hearing briefs. [DE 30; DE 31].


         “It is well settled that in seeking suppression of evidence the burden of proof is upon the defendant to display a violation of some constitutional or statutory right justifying suppression.” United States v. Rodriquez-Suazo, 346 F.3d 637, 643 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting United States v. Feldman, 606 F.2d 673, 679 n.11 (6th Cir. 1979). The Sixth Circuit has made clear that the burden of proof on the defendant requesting suppression extends to both “the burden of production and persuasion.” United States v. Chaar, 137 F.3d 359, 363 (6th Cir. 1998); United States v. Patel, 579 Fed.Appx. 449, 453 (6th Cir. 2014).

         “No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” U.S. Const. Amend. V. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court, in prescribing safeguards for the effectuation of the Fifth Amendment, held that “the prosecution may not use statements . . . stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination.” 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966). The safeguards “prescribed by Miranda are to ensure that the police do not coerce or trick captive suspects into confessing.” Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 433 (1984). If a suspect is interrogated while in custody and he does not voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waive his Miranda rights, any statements he makes to the police must be suppressed. Id. at 429.

         A suspect is in custody if, under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person would not feel free to end the interrogation by the police and leave. See Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 663 (2004). Police interrogation includes “not only. . . express questioning, but also . . . any words or actions on the part of the police (other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.” Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301 (1980).


         Hoyer moves to suppress all pre-and post-Miranda statements made by Hoyer at the scene of his detention on grounds that he made these statements as part of a custodial interrogation without first being effectively advised of and knowingly and intelligently waiving his Miranda rights. [DE 18 at 45]. At the evidentiary hearing the United States agreed that all of Hoyer's statements were made while he was in custody. [DE 27 at 69] The United States further conceded that those statements made by Hoyer before being given his Miranda rights were improperly obtained and should be suppressed. Id. The United States contends, however, that after being given the Miranda warning, Hoyer made a knowing and voluntary decision to waive his rights. [DE 30 at 108]. ...

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