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United States v. Wilson

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

January 17, 2019



          Willie J. Epps, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the Court is defendant Leonard Jerome Wilson's Motion to Suppress Evidence. (Doc. 29). The Government has filed suggestions in opposition. (Doc. 32). No. reply brief was filed. The motion is now ripe for consideration. For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that defendant's motion be denied.

         I. Background

         On July 14, 2017, Sergeant Chad Bailey of the Camden County Sheriffs Office (CCSO) interviewed a juvenile female (DOB: 09/07/2000) who stated that Mr. Wilson engaged in sexual misconduct with her while on duty as a CCSO deputy. (Doc. 32). The juvenile female further reported that Mr. Wilson became friends with her on social media applications, and sent her a “selfie” taken with a cellular phone depicting the defendant unclothed from the waist up. Id. Sergeant Bailey then met with Investigators Randall Ragar and John Pehle of the State Technical Assistance Team (STAT) to inform them of the CCSO internal investigation regarding Mr. Wilson's behavior. Id.

         On July 17, 2017, CCSO officers interviewed Mr. Wilson who stated that his cell phone was located at his residence with his wife, Maggie Wilson. Id. The same day, Investigators Ragar and Pehle accompanied CCSO deputies to Mr. Wilson's residence to retrieve CCSO-issued items and locate electronic devices involved with his alleged sexual misconduct. Id. Mrs. Wilson gave officers consent to enter the Wilson home, and directed law enforcement officers to the various locations of CCSO-issued items, including a black patrol bag in the couple's shared bedroom closet. Id. Pursuant to Mrs. Wilson's permission, officers confiscated the CCSO issued items and a Samsung tablet from the residence. Id. Detective Jeremiah Burnett searched the confiscated CCSO items in order to re-distribute the property to other officers within the department. Id. While searching, Detective Burnett located and seized an HTC cellular phone and SIM card mixed in among the items in the black patrol bag. Id. On July 20, 2017, Investigator Pehle applied for and received a Cole County warrant to search the HTC cell phone which revealed images of child pornography and erotica. Id.

         The fruits of the search lead to a two-count indictment in which Mr. Wilson is charged with one count of Receiving or Distributing Child Pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), and one count of Possession of Child Pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B). (Doc. 1). Mr. Wilson now moves the Court for an order suppressing the child pornography found during the execution of the warrant on the HTC cell phone. (Doc. 29).

         The Court held an evidentiary hearing regarding the motion to suppress on January 7, 2019. (Doc. 33). Mr. Wilson was represented by Attorney Shane L. Farrow. The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Turner. The Government called Investigator Randall Ragar and Detective Jeremiah Burnett as witnesses. The defense called no witnesses to testify.

         II. Findings of Fact

          On the basis of the evidence presented at the evidentiary hearings, the undersigned submits the following proposed findings of fact.

         1. On or about July 2017, Mr. Wilson worked for the CCSO as a patrol deputy and had been employed in that capacity for approximately six months. (Tr. at 4:17-22, January 7, 2019).

         2. Investigator Randall Ragar has been employed by STAT for approximately three years, and is tasked with assisting law enforcement agencies with crimes against children. (Tr. 15:10-20, January 7, 2019).

         3. Investigator Ragar met with CCSO's Sergeant Bailey and Lieutenant Joe Botta on July 17, 2019, and learned about an internal investigation concerning Mr. Wilson's alleged involvement with a juvenile female in Camden County. (Tr. 16:18-25; 17:1-7, January 7, 2019).

         4. At the meeting, Sergeant Bailey detailed the information compiled in the CCSO's internal investigation, which included:

a. An interview with the juvenile female on January 14, 2017 where she stated she encountered Mr. Wilson after riding in a vehicle that was involved in a pursuit. (Tr. 17:8-12; 24:2-6, January 7, 2019). Mr. Wilson responded to the scene as a CCSO deputy, instructed the juvenile to enter his patrol vehicle, and drove her to a remote location where he caressed her thigh and attempted to kiss her multiple times. (Tr. 17:15-17, January 7, 2019). Mr. Wilson returned the juvenile female back to the ...

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