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United States v. Gladney

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

July 10, 2019




         The Government charged Defendant with a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (Count I) and 18 U.S.C. § 924 (c)(1)(A) (Count II). Defendant moves to suppress physical evidence on the grounds that it was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. More specifically, Defendant argues that the affidavit filed in support of the search warrant failed to establish a sufficient nexus between the evidence sought and the place to be searched. Defendant also moves to dismiss Count II, arguing that a Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a crime of violence as defined in Section 924(c).

         Findings of Fact

         On March 19, 2018, at approximately 12:40 p.m., four individuals entered Vincent's Jewelers in Creve Coeur, Missouri. Surveillance video from the store shows three were armed with guns and the fourth had a lead pipe. All four wore masks, blue gloves, and dark clothes. One individual herded employees to the back of the store at gun point while the other three broke into display cases. They smashed several cases with the pipe and fired a gun through the glass of one case. As the group exited the store one individual vaulted over the top of a jewelry case and shot himself in the hand. As he fled the store, he left behind a trail of blood. Based in part on a height scale at the entrance to the store, police officers estimated that the individual who shot himself was over six feet tall and very heavy set. The four individuals spent under one minute in Vincent Jewelers and took over $180, 000 in watches and jewelry.[1]

         The four individuals departed in a black 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck reported stolen earlier that day. A black sedan, believed to be a look-out, followed the fleeing Dodge Ram. The next day, March 20, investigators recovered the stolen Dodge Ram in parking lot in Maryland Heights, MO. Inside the Dodge Ram there were watch holders and blood drops on the passenger side floor and door of the vehicle.

         Police officers spoke with a witness who stated that between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. she observed two black males in dark clothes arguing loudly in the parking lot where the Dodge Ram was found. The witness saw one individual shut the door of the Dodge Ram then enter the black sedan while the other man got in a white SUV. They drove off leaving the Dodge Ram.

         Police officers collected samples of blood left at the scene and submitted those samples to the St. Louis County Police Department Crime Laboratory for analysis. The laboratory developed a DNA profile from the blood and compared it to profiles in the Combined DNA Index System (“CODIS”). The DNA profile matched Defendant.

         Defendant's criminal record identified him as 6'4” and 250-275 pounds, consistent with the description of the individual who vaulted the jewelry case. A record check revealed a white 2003 Cadillac Escalade SUV registered in Defendant's name at 1302 Dominica Drive. Officers identified Stephanie Shanklin as the utility account holder for 1302 Dominica Drive. A previous police report described Ms. Shanklin as Defendant's girlfriend and/or the mother of his children.

         On March 29, investigators established video-surveillance of 1302 Dominica Drive and observed the Escalade registered to Defendant in the driveway. A male matching Defendant's description exited the house, entered the Escalade, and drove away. Later that day, officers conducted physical surveillance at 1302 Dominica Drive and saw three males leave the residence and enter a white GMC Terrain. One individual matched the description of Defendant and a second fit the description of another Vincent Jeweler's suspect. Investigators attempted to identify the individuals, but they began performing what appeared to be counter-surveillance --driving in circles around the neighborhood and passing by and attempting to look inside the investigators' vehicle. After briefly following the GMC Terrain, the investigators terminated their surveillance.

         On March 30, ATF Special Agent Vincent Liberto applied for a search warrant for 1302 Dominica Drive seeking, among other things, “firearms, ammunition…, proceeds from a robbery, blood evidence…, [and] documentation of residency.” The affidavit submitted in support of the search warrant contained detailed information from the Vincent Jeweler's surveillance video and the ensuing investigation.

         In the affidavit, Agent Liberto stated that, based on DNA evidence and a known physical description, Defendant was the individual who shot himself during the Vincent Jeweler's incident. The affidavit established that investigators observed an individual matching Defendant's description at 1302 Dominica Drive on three occasions. Agent Liberto also averred that Defendant's Escalade was located at 1302 Dominica Drive. The undersigned judge signed the search warrant.

         Officers executed the search warrant on April 4. Officers seized a jewelry scale, jewelry, watches, U.S. currency, ammunition, Defendant's driver's license, and a box of blue gloves. Officers arrested Defendant who was present and appeared to have a bullet wound in his right hand.

         Conclusions of Law

          A. Motio ...

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