United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
M. Bodenhausen, United States Magistrate Judge.
before the Court is Defendant Hairl T. Johnson's Motion
to Suppress Evidence. (ECF No. 90) The government has filed a
response in opposition. (ECF No. 100) On January 16, 2019,
the Court held an evidentiary hearing on Johnson's
motion, and the parties submitted post-hearing memoranda.
(ECF Nos. 117, 121) The undersigned recommends that
Johnson's Motion to Suppress be denied.
a complex case with three co-defendants. (ECF No. 46) The
Indictment alleges two violations. Count I alleges a
conspiracy to distribute drugs. Count II alleges that the
defendants possessed one or more firearms in furtherance of
their drug-trafficking crime, and that they killed another
person in the course of their conduct. (ECF No. 1) Count II
relates to the alleged murder of Antonio Jones, whose burned
body was found on November 10, 2014, in East St. Louis,
Illinois. While the charge in Count II, if proven, carries a
potential death penalty, the government has formally
indicated that it will not seek the death penalty. (ECF No.
the Jones' murder investigation, law enforcement officers
applied for and obtained two search warrants directed at a
telephone number believed to be connected to the killing.
Both warrants were obtained in St. Clair County, Illinois,
where Jones' body was found. The first warrant was
applied for on November 11, 2014, and was directed at
telephone number 314-740-5338. No. relevant records were
received pursuant to the November 11, 2014, warrant. The
second warrant was applied for on November 13, 2014, and was
directed at telephone number 314-740-5338. Johnson contends
that the evidence obtained pursuant to the November 13th
Search Warrant must be suppressed.
January 16, 2019, the undersigned held an evidentiary hearing
on Johnson's motion. Johnson was present with his
attorney, Daniel Schattnik, and the government was
represented by AUSAs John Montovani and Lisa Yemm. The
government presented the testimony of one witness, Detective
Andrew Ward, a police officer with the City of Fairview
Heights, IL, and a member of the Major Case Squad. Mr.
Schattnik cross-examined Det. Ward extensively.
hearing, the Court received several exhibits, including a
copy of the Complaint submitted for the November 13, 2014,
Search Warrant and a copy of the Search Warrant as issued.
(Gov't Exhs. 1A and 1B) The government also submitted a
CD (Gov't Exh. 2) that included a copy of the data
received as a result of the November 13, 2014, Search
Warrant. Johnson introduced copies of the November 11th
Complaint and associated Search Warrant (Def. Exhs. 1-3).
(See Clerk's Exhibit List, ECF No. 110)
on the testimony and evidence adduced at the evidentiary
hearing, having had the opportunity to observe the demeanor
and evaluate the credibility of the witness, and having fully
considered the parties' arguments and written
submissions, the undersigned makes the following findings of
fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations.
November 10, 2014, at about 3:00 p.m., the body of Antonio
Jones was recovered from the trunk of a burgundy Buick
LeSabre that was burning in East St. Louis, Illinois. The
Major Case Squad was activated to investigate Jones'
Ward is a detective with the City of Fairview Heights,
Illinois, police department. As of the date of the
evidentiary hearing, Det. Ward had been a police officer for
more than eight years. In November 2014, Det. Ward was a
member of the Major Case Squad. On the evening of November
10, 2014, he was assigned to assist in the Antonio Jones
investigation. At the evidentiary hearing, Det. Ward
described generally how the Major Case Squad works. He
explained that detectives typically work in teams of two and
are assigned various tasks. He further explained how the
investigators collaborate and share information.
Ward testified that his first assignment during the
investigation involved interviewing Antonio Jones' family
and friends. During the evening of November 10th, he
interviewed Felicia Jones. From that interview, Det. Ward
learned that Antonio Jones had been in the presence of a man
known as “Baby Hairl” earlier on November 10th.
Ms. Jones did not know this man's real name. According to
Det. Ward, the Major Case Squad later determined that
“Baby Hairl” was Defendant Hairl Johnson.
members of the Major Case Squad interviewed Pier Finn and
Sandra Mitchell. Ms. Finn was Antonio Jones' girlfriend
in November 2014. Ms. Finn advised that she had last seen
Antonio Jones on the morning of November 10, 2014, and that
they had an argument. Ms. Mitchell was Antonio Jones'
ex-girlfriend, and she stated that she spoke with Antonio
Jones via the telephone on November 9, 2014.
interviewing Antonio Jones' friends and family, the Major
Case Squad detectives learned that Jones' cell phone
number was 314-482-7120 and requested telephone records for
that number, including cell-site location information.
Detectives received records responsive to their request
either late on November 10th or early on November 11th. From
those records, detectives identified five telephone calls of
interest associated with Jones' phone activity for
November 10, 2014. One of the calls of interest was a call
between Jones' phone and telephone number 314-740-5338,
at about 9:00 a.m. on November 10th, which lasted
approximately 130 seconds. The investigation revealed that
Defendant Hairl Johnson was the user of telephone number
location information relative to Antonio Jones' cell
phone also indicated that the last known use of the phone was
in Ferguson, MO, on November 10, 2014. The investigators
later learned that the cell-site associated with that last
known use was a cell tower in the area of 308 Georgia,
Ferguson, MO, where Johnson lived with a girlfriend.
telephone number of interest was associated with a person
named Anthony Stringer. Det. Ward interviewed Mr. Stringer on
November 11, 2014. Stringer was Jones' friend and
co-worker. Det. Ward testified that investigators identified
two calls between Antonio Jones' cell phone and Mr.
Stringer's cell phone during the morning of November 10,
2014. Mr. Stringer advised that the first call on November
10th was from Antonio Jones and the second call was from
someone named “Butchy.” The Major Case Squad
investigators later determined that “Butchy” was
Randall Patton (a co-defendant in this matter). According to
Mr. Stringer, when he spoke with Jones on November 10th,
Jones told Stringer he was following Patton on Page Avenue.
When Patton called Stringer later on Jones' phone, he
told Stringer that he and Jones were at “the Big B
store” near Goodfellow and Maffitt.
Big B store” is also known as the Price Chopper store.
Det. Ward and his partner interviewed the owner of Price
Chopper and obtained and reviewed surveillance video from
that store from the morning of November 10, 2014. Det. Ward
testified that the surveillance video showed Randall Patton
drive onto Price Chopper's parking lot in a white Ford
Expedition, and that Patton was accompanied by Hairl Johnson.
Det. Ward further testified that a burgundy Buick (Antonio
Jones' vehicle) pulled alongside of the white Ford
Expedition with the driver's side of the Buick next to
the passenger side of the Ford Expedition. Det. Ward
explained that there was some interaction between the
occupants of the two vehicles, after which Antonio Jones
parked the Buick and went inside the store while the Ford
Expedition drove off the parking lot. According to Det. Ward,
the video showed that Antonio Jones quickly came back out of
the store and drove off the parking lot in the same direction
as the Ford Expedition.
interviewed Randall Patton relative to the events of November
10, 2014. Patton initially told investigators he did not know
“Baby Hairl” and that he had been at work that
day. When confronted with images from the Price Chopper
surveillance, Patton admitted he had been with Johnson and
Antonio Jones on November 10, 2014. Patton further advised
that the white Ford Expedition belonged to Hairl Johnson and
that he had been at Johnson's house at 308 Georgia,
Ferguson, MO. According to Patton, after leaving the Price
Chopper parking lot, Hairl Johnson, Antonio Jones, and Patton
went to smoke cannabis together.
also learned that the white Ford Expedition was registered to
a person named Synovia Clemons, who Det. Ward described as
being in a “dating relationship” with Hairl
Johnson. Investigators with the Major Case Squad learned that
Ms. Clemons lived at 308 Georgia, and interviewed Ms. Clemons
at that address. When they arrived, they observed a white
Ford Expedition in front of the residence. Ms. Clemons
reportedly confirmed that Hairl Johnson lived with her at 308
Georgia, and that Johnson and Patton used the Ford Expedition
the morning of November 10, 2014. Ms. Clemons indicated that
Johnson and Patton dropped her off at work that day and
picked her up later. Ms. Clemons advised that Hairl
Johnson's telephone number was 314-740-5338, which is the
number that is at the heart of Johnson's suppression
November 13, 2014, Det. Ward presented a Complaint for Search
Warrant to obtain records related to telephone number
314-740-5338. Det. Ward testified that he and Ms. Dalan, an
Assistant State Attorney, prepared the Complaint for Search
Warrant and Search Warrant together before presenting the
documents to Judge Gomric in St. Clair County, Illinois. Det.
Ward signed, subscribed and swore to the Complaint for Search
Warrant before Judge Gomric. The Complaint for Search Warrant
was signed as “APPROVED” by the Assistant
State's Attorney, and signed by Judge Gomric as well.
noted, the November 13th Complaint for Search Warrant
requested records related to telephone number 314-740-5338
and listed sixteen (16) categories of information. As
relevant to Johnson's Motion to Suppress, Det. Ward
requested information relative to the subscriber of telephone
number 314-740-5338, the cell towers used by that telephone
number,  and incoming and outgoing telephone
records for that number. Det. Ward also requested records
regarding the content of stored communications associated
with telephone number 314-740-5338, including voicemail, text
messages, photographs, and browser traffic. Det. Ward
testified that the investigation team did not receive any of
the requested records of content data from Verizon Wireless.
of the Complaint for Search Warrant, Det. Ward included a
recitation of certain facts relevant to the investigation
into the murder of Antonio Jones and how telephone number
314-740-5338 was connected to that investigation. Det. Ward
explained that, on November 10, 2014, at about 3:00 p.m., a
1990 Buick LeSabre was found burning in East St. Louis. The
fire was extinguished and the body of a man preliminarily
identified as Antonio L. Jones was recovered from the trunk
of the Buick LeSabre. The Buick LeSabre was registered to
Sandra Mitchell and Antonio L. Jones. Det. Ward represented
that Jones' cell phone number was 314-482-7120 and that
investigators had made an exigent circumstances request to
Sprint Corporation for records relative to Jones' cell
phone. The records received from the exigent circumstances
request included information that Jones' phone number
(314-482-7120) had been in contact with phone number
314-740-5338 (the subject telephone number of the Complaint
for Search Warrant) for 136 seconds, at about 9:17 a.m., on
November 10, 2014.
Ward stated that law enforcement had “learned that the
known user of [phone number] (314) 740-5338, was seen on
video surveillance at approximately 9:00 a.m. on 11/10/14, at
which time the known user of this phone was speaking to
[Antonio Jones] on the surveillance video.” Det. Ward
also represented that records requested by the Complaint for
Search Warrant were “necessary to the investigation to
determine the nature and the source of the telephone call
made with Antonio L. Jones' [phone number].” Det.
Ward further represented that subscriber information relative
to 314-740-5338 was needed to determine ...