United States District Court, D. Vermont
RULING ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS (Doc. 32)
J. GARVAN MURTHA, District Judge.
Defendant Royan Wint is charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute narcotics in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), 846. (Doc. 26.) Wint moves to suppress all evidence and statements obtained as a result of a search of his residence and car in Bennington, Vermont, arguing his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. (Doc. 32.) The government opposes the motion. (Doc. 35.) The Court held an evidentiary hearing on January 13 and January 29, 2014, and heard testimony from Vermont State Police Detective Casey Daniell, Trooper Wayne Godfrey, Trooper Robert Zink, and Wint. Both Wint and the government filed supplemental briefing. (Docs. 77, 78, 79.) For the reasons below, the Court denies Wint's motion.
A. Witness Credibility
At the evidentiary hearing, Vermont State Police Detective Daniell and Wint both testified about Wint's interrogation on May 22, 2012. They provided markedly contrasting accounts of the interrogation. Wint and Trooper Robert Zink also provided conflicting testimony about the circumstances in which Wint granted written consent to search his car. For the reasons explained more fully below, the Court finds Detective Daniell and Trooper Zink more credible and adopts their accounts. Notwithstanding its doubts about Wint's credibility, the Court has incorporated portions of his testimony into its findings.
B. Factual Findings
The following facts are taken from the evidence presented at the January 13 and January 29 hearings and other documents submitted as evidence by the parties.
1. The Traffic Stop
At approximately 11:47 p.m. on May 21, 2012, Trooper Godfrey performed a traffic stop on a green Chevrolet Cavalier for failing to use a turn signal. Dft. Ex. A at 3 (Godfrey affidavit). When the driver, Mason B. Ingraham, opened the center console to get his identification, Godfrey saw a glass pipe inside which he recognized as something used to smoke marijuana. Id . Godfrey asked both Ingraham and the passenger, Shauna T. Poole, to exit the car. Id . After patting them both down for weapons, Godfrey asked Poole if he could search her purse. Id . Poole consented and inside the purse, Godfrey found "a plastic tube that had white powdery residue inside." Id . Godfrey then searched the car. Id. at 4. During the search, Godfrey found another glass pipe, an electronic scale, and two plastic bags "containing a white powdery substance which [he] recognized as cocaine." Id . The substances later tested positive for cocaine. Id. at 5.
Ingraham first told Godfrey that he and Poole had been at a friend's house on Grove Street watching a basketball game, but later said they did not actually watch the game. Dft. Ex. A at 4. Godfrey then questioned Poole, who first said they had gone to the house to watch basketball, but then admitted they really went to buy cocaine. Id . Poole told Godfrey there were two black males (named Roy and Lem) and a female at the residence. Id . Poole also told Godfrey she would cooperate and give a written account of the drug transaction, which she said took place between Ingraham and one of the men inside a bedroom at the residence. Id.
Town of Bennington Police Officer Nicholas Holden then drove Poole to Grove Street, where she voluntarily pointed out the residence as 306 Grove Street. Dft. Ex. A at 4. Poole also told Godfrey she could show him the Facebook profile of one of the males. Id . She pulled up his profile, and Godfrey "observed [a photo of] a black male who was identified as Royan A. Wint." Id . Godfrey then entered Wint's name into the Vermont State Police's Spillman database, which produced a picture consistent with the Facebook profile picture. Id . The database revealed Wint's vehicle had been stopped and searched twice in February 2012. Id . In the first stop, an officer found a plastic baggy with a white powdery substance, but it was not enough to test and "no further actions were taken." Id . In the second stop, police found a small amount of marijuana, torn plastic bags, and Q-tips. Id. at 4-5. According to Godfrey, "[t]he cotton from the [Q]-tips is commonly used in the drug world as a filter to draw a liquid narcotic through to inject it intravenously." Id. at 5.
Godfrey also spoke to Ingraham, who similarly agreed to cooperate and provide a written statement. Dft. Ex. A at 4. According to Godfrey, Ingraham's statement included that he had gone to the residence three times in the past month to buy cocaine. Id . Ingraham told Godfrey that on that night, he bought $200 of cocaine from a black male in the bedroom. Id . According to Ingraham, the male kept his drugs in the bedroom or in his shoes and might possess as much as five ounces of cocaine and other drugs. Id.
2. The Search of 306 Grove Street
Based on the above information, Trooper Godfrey quickly applied for a warrant to search the residence addressed as 306 Grove Street for narcotics and related evidence. Dft. Ex. A at 2-5. The sworn statements of Ingraham and Poole were not attached to Godfrey's affidavit. Judge David Howard issued the warrant at approximately 5:36 a.m on May 22, 2012 - less than six hours after the initial traffic stop. Id. at 1. Godfrey and other officers executed the search warrant approximately two hours later and found substantial amounts of cocaine powder, crack cocaine, "various narcotic pills, " and at least $11, 000 in cash. (Doc. ...