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United States v. Butler

United States District Court, D. Vermont

October 6, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KAYLEIGH BUTLER, Defendant

For Kayleigh Butler, Defendant: Steven L. Barth, AFPD, Office of the Federal Public Defender, District of Vermont, Burlington, VT.

For USA, Plaintiff: Michael P. Drescher, AUSA, United States Attorney's Office, District of Vermont, Burlington, VT.

Page 649

RULING ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS (Doc. 15)

Honorable J. Garvan Murtha, United States District Judge.

I. Introduction

Defendant Kayleigh Butler (" Butler" or " Defendant" ) is charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin. (Doc. 1.) Butler moves to suppress evidence obtained during an interview at the Burlington police station in the early morning hours of July 18, 2013, arguing her Fifth Amendment constitutional rights were violated. (Doc. 15.) The government opposes the motion. (Doc. 16.) The Court held an evidentiary hearing on July 21, 2014, and heard testimony from Burlington Police (BP) Officer Kristian Young (" Officer Young" ) and BP Sergeant Paul Petralia (" Sergeant Petralia" ). Both Butler and the government filed additional briefing following the hearing. (Docs. 20, 23.)

For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendant's motion in part.

Page 650

II. Background

The following facts are taken from the testimony and evidence presented at the July 21 hearing, and from other documents submitted as evidence by the parties. On July 17, 2013, at approximately 11:40 p.m., Burlington Police officers responded to a reported robbery in a parking lot. Officer Young checked the welfare of Butler, who had reported the robbery and was rubbing her face, and observed one man leaving the parking lot on the street and another through the woods. Butler stated the first man was her friend. Officer Young briefly pursued the other man through the woods. Butler told the police that, while sitting in her car, the driver and passenger side doors were opened, she and her friend were sprayed with mace, and her car keys and one purse with a wallet were taken. Sergeant Petralia observed four bundles of what appeared to be heroin on the ground near the driver's side door. He also knew Butler's friend to be a frequent drug user.

At approximately 12:15 a.m., Butler agreed to accompany Officer Young to the police station to discuss the robbery in more detail. She also consented to a search of another purse, in which several syringes were observed. During the ride, they discussed Butler's work with children as a nanny and Officer Young stated she did not have to accompany or speak with him.

Once they arrived at the station, at approximately 12:30 a.m., Butler went to the restroom to tend to her eyes and then was taken into an unsecured " Victim/Witness room." Officer Young reiterated that she did not have to answer his questions and was free to leave: she could " just walk right out that door." Among questions about the robbery and why she was in the parking lot, Officer Young asked if she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Butler stated she was not then under the influence. When asked about the syringes found in her purse, Butler said they belonged to a friend with diabetes. She said she used to shoot cocaine but had not used for weeks. Butler was hard to understand because she was mumbling and trailing off, and kept closing her eyes. Young Test.

Officer Young asked about the heroin bundles and began to press about the details of the robbery, stating it appeared Butler met her friend in the parking lot for reasons other than a ride. He intimated that she sprayed herself with the mace by mentioning other drug-related thefts he had been involved with when people purposely hurt themselves or lied about the events. In response, Butler stated " Ok, I'm done with this conversation." Gov't Ex. 1. After Officer Young responded by reiterating he was only saying what he had seen in the past, she said again, " I'm done. I'd like to go home. You guys can drop me off." Id.

Officer Young told Butler they would not be giving her a ride, that she could call someone and take a seat in the lobby of the station. He said she should think about what happened and that he knew she was not telling the truth. The interview, which ...


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