United States District Court, D. Vermont
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM K. SESSIONS III DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Everett A. Simpson is charged with two counts of kidnapping,
one of which involved a minor, and two counts of interstate
transportation of a stolen motor vehicle. Simpson filed a
motion to suppress the evidence obtained as the result of a
March 21, 2019 search warrant authorizing the collection of
buccal DNA samples. He also moved to compel discovery of the
contents of the alleged victim's cellphone. For the
reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion to suppress
evidence is denied and his motion to compel
discovery is withdrawn without prejudice.
following facts are taken from the affidavits supporting the
search warrant at issue in this case and the warrant itself.
According to the affidavits, Simpson escaped from Valley
Vista in Bradford, Vermont on January 2, 2019. ECF 20-2, at
¶ 17. The State of Vermont placed him there for
residential drug treatment as a part of the conditions of his
release regarding a separate charge. Id. After
leaving Valley Vista, Simpson stole a van and fled the city.
January 5, 2019, Simpson abandoned the stolen van and
approached another vehicle in the parking lot of a mall in
Manchester, New Hampshire. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 8.
The owner of the vehicle Celia Roessler had just secured her
four-year-old-child in the backseat of the car. Id.
at ¶ 8. As Roessler was getting into the driver's
seat, Simpson shoved her into the passenger area and took
control of the vehicle. Id. Simpson then drove out
of New Hampshire and into Vermont with Roessler and her child
still in the car. Id.
Thetford, Vermont, Simpson pulled to the side of the road and
attempted to sexually assault Roessler. Id. at
¶¶ 10-11. She tried to get out of the vehicle and
yelled to nearby joggers for help. Id. at ¶ 10.
The joggers indicated that Simpson was attempting to hold
Roessler down and drove off as they approached the car.
Id. at ¶¶ 10-11. Roessler then told
Simpson that if he was going to sexually assault her that he
should take her to a hotel room. Id. at ¶ 12.
Roessler later told police that she asked Simpson “to
bring her to a hotel because she was afraid that if he raped
her beside the road he would kill both her and her son and
leave them and because at least most hotels had
cameras.” Id. Simpson eventually drove
Roessler to the Comfort Inn in White River Junction and
forced her to rent a room with her credit card. Id.
Once inside the room, Simpson allegedly raped Roessler.
Id. He then left Roessler and her son in the room
and drove off with her car. Id. The next day, police
officers in Pennsylvania located Roessler's vehicle with
“an individual presumed to be Simpson driving
it.” Id. at ¶ 18. Following a pursuit,
Simpson abandoned the vehicle on foot and eventually stole
another vehicle. Id. Law enforcement apprehended him
after he crashed the vehicle during a pursuit. Id.
January 7, 2019, United States Magistrate Judge John M.
Conroy issued an arrest warrant for Simpson and signed a
complaint charging him with kidnapping in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1201. Id. at ¶ 6. FBI Special
Agent Jennie Emmons conducted the investigation of
Simpson's alleged crimes and authored the affidavit in
support of the criminal complaint. Id. On February
21, 2019, a grand jury issued a four-count indictment
charging Simpson with two counts of kidnapping under 18
U.S.C. § 1201 and two counts of interstate
transportation of a stolen motor vehicle under 18 U.S.C.
§ 2312. Id. at ¶ 5.
March 21, 2019 the FBI applied for a search warrant to obtain
samples of Simpson's DNA. ECF 20. FBI Special Agent Colin
Simons stated in the affidavit in support of the search
warrant that the FBI collected items from the crime scene
that had “DNA deposits from which partial DNA profiles
could be produced for comparison purposes.” ECF 20-1,
at ¶ 9. These items included cigarettes from the hotel
room. Id. Agent Simons explained that comparing
Simpson's DNA with the DNA deposits found at the crime
scene would likely produce probative evidence. Id.
at ¶ 11. “[A] match . . . would tend to show that
Simpson was present at the crime scene or scenes, while a
discrepancy . . . could constitute exculpatory
evidence.” Id. Agent Simons also incorporated
Agent Emmons' affidavit in the application for the search
warrant. Id. at ¶ 6.
Conroy issued the search warrant on March 21, 2019 (the
Warrant). ECF 21, at 1. The caption of the Warrant states:
“In the Matter of the Search of . . . Buccal DNA
samples from Everett A. Simpson.” Id. To the
right of this statement, the caption displays this case's
docket number. Id. Below the caption, Judge Conroy
identified Everett A. Simpson as the person to be searched
and stated that he was in the District of Vermont.
Id. In addition, Judge Conroy indicated that the
search would reveal “DNA for a profile standard, to be
compared to DNA profiles recovered from various locations, as
evidence of violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1201 and
2312.” Id. Agent Simons executed the search on
March 25, 2019. ECF 22, at 2.
SIMPSON'S MOTION TO SUPRESS
motion to suppress, Simpson challenges the evidence obtained
pursuant to the Warrant on several grounds. First, he claims
that the Warrant “was facially invalid for failing to
describe the person or place to be searched with
particularity and for failing to specify what the authorities
were permitted to seize.” ECF 31, at 3. Second, Simpson
argues that the Warrant “fail[ed] to establish probable
cause for the seizure of a DNA sample.” Id. at
7. Third, Simpson contends that the good-faith exception does
not apply because the Warrant lacked any indicia of probable
cause and because the Warrant was facially deficient.
Id. at 11. After reviewing the Warrant, the Court
finds these arguments unavailing.
The Warrant described the person to be searched and what
the authorities were permitted to seize with sufficient
claims that the Warrant failed to fulfill the Fourth
Amendment's particularity requirement. The Fourth
Amendment demands that warrants “particularly
describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or
things to be seized.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. This
requirement aims to “ensure that the search will be
carefully tailored to its justifications, and will not take
on the character of the wide-ranging exploratory searches the
Framers intended to prohibit.” Maryland v.
Garrison, 480 U.S. 79, 84 (1987). To achieve this goal,
warrants must “describe the place to be searched with
sufficient particularity to direct the searcher, to confine
his examination to the place described, and to advise those
being searched of his authority.” United States v.
Burke,784 F.2d 1090, 1092 (11th Cir. 1986); see
also United States v. George, 975 F.2d 72, 75 (2d Cir.
1991) (“In order to prevent a wide-ranging exploratory
search, the warrant must enable the executing officer to
ascertain and identify with reasonable certainty those items
that the ...