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United States v. Butler

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

November 16, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
William H. Butler, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOHN T. MAUGHMER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is the Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statement (Doc. #13) filed on May 24, 2017 by defendant William H. Butler (“Butler”). On August 24, 2017, the undersigned held an evidentiary hearing on Butler's motion. Butler was present and represented by his counsel, Assistant Federal Public Defender Ronna Holloman-Hughes. The government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Davids. At the evidentiary hearing, testimony was given by two witnesses: Sergeant Kirk Beeman and Detective Josko Wrabec both with the Sugar Creek, Missouri Police Department. Additionally, the following exhibits were admitted into evidence:

Number

Description

Gov't. Ex. 1

Sugar Creek Mo. PD Permission-to-Search form

Gov't. Ex. 2

Wrabec report - July 21, 2013 (19:01 hours)

Gov't. Ex. 3

Wrabec report - July 21, 2013 (19:34 hours)

         On the basis of all the evidence adduced at the evidentiary hearing, the undersigned submits the following:

         PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. On July 21, 2013, Kirk Beeman was a sergeant with the Sugar Creek Missouri Police Department and Josko Wrabec was a patrol officer with the Sugar Creek, Missouri Police Department. Tr. at 3-4, 42.

         2. On that date, Sergeant Beeman had been contacted by his chief (Herb Soule) and was told that a complaint had been registered about suspected drug activity at a Sugar Creek apartment complex located at 411 North Sterling. Tr. at 4-5, 30, 32, 43.

         3. After receiving the information, Sergeant Beeman and Officer Wrabec - in separate marked police vehicles - conducted some surveillance of the apartment complex beginning at approximately 4:00 p.m. Tr. at 4-7, 30.

         4. While conducting the surveillance, Sergeant Beeman observed a car with several occupants pull up to the complex and park in the back alley. Tr. at 8.

         5. The car's driver entered the complex and then left in his car after being in the apartment complex for less than a minute. Tr. at 8, 31.

         6. Sergeant Beeman radioed Officer Wrabec and requested that he conduct a stop of the vehicle. Tr. at 8, 31, 56.

         7. During the ensuing traffic stop, one of the car's occupants told officers that they had gone to the apartment complex and purchased a small amount of marijuana. Tr. at 9.

         8. The occupant described the location of the apartment and said he bought the marijuana from a black male named “Will.” Tr. at 10, 44-45.

         9. Based on the information, Sergeant Beeman and Officer Wrabec decided to conduct a “knock and talk” at the described apartment. Tr. at 10, 45.

         10. At approximately 7:34 p.m., Sergeant Beeman and Officer Wrabec (both in uniform) knocked on the door of Apartment 3 (the location described by the witness) of the apartment complex at 411 North Sterling. Tr. at 11-13, 36, 45-46.

         11. The door was answered by Butler. Tr. at 11-12, 32, 46.

         12. Butler stepped outside the apartment into the hallway and shut the door behind. Tr. at 11, 13, 62.

         13. Sergeant Beeman explained to Butler that there were some indications that illegal drugs were being sold out of his apartment. Tr. at 12, 32, 46-47, 64.

         14. Butler responded: “Man, all I have is a little bit in my pipe, and it's just for personal use.” Tr. at 14, 32, 46, 64.

         15. Butler confirmed that he lived in the apartment with his girlfriend and that both of them were on the lease. Tr. at 13.

         16. Sergeant Beeman showed Butler a consent-to-search form and requested Butler to consent to a search of the apartment. Tr. at 12, 14-15, 47; Gov't Ex. 1.

         17. Sergeant Beeman read the consent-to-search form out loud and asked Butler to sign. Tr. at 16-17, 35, 48.

         18. In part, the form specifically provides that Butler was acknowledging that he had been informed of his “constitutional right not to have a search made of the premises and property.” Tr. at 17; Gov't Ex. 1.

         19. Butler initially responded to Sergeant Beeman by stating that he would go inside and retrieve the marijuana that he had and if the officers would return in 10 minutes “it will be gone.” Tr. at 18, 49-50.

         20. Butler then reached for the doorknob to go inside. Tr. at 19, 33, 50.

         21. Sergeant Beeman then reached and stopped Butler from going back into the apartment. Tr. at 19, 33, 50.

         22. Sergeant Beeman asked Butler if there were weapons or other individuals in the apartment. Tr. at 19, 63.

         23. Butler said that he was home alone and had some swords hanging inside the doorway and “maybe a BB gun.” Tr. at 20.

         24. Sergeant Beeman then told Butler that he could not go back into the apartment until he consented to a search or refused to consent to a search. Tr. at 20, 33, 51, 62.

         25. Butler responded: “”If I don't sign that form, you will just come back with a search warrant, and then [I will be] ...


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