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United States v. Silva

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

January 19, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
IZAIYA SILVA, Defendant.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS

          ROBERT C. BRACK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc. 20) and Supplemental Motion to Suppress (Doc. 33). Having reviewed the accompanying briefing, hearing testimony, and documentary evidence and being otherwise fully advised, the Court will deny the Motions.

         I. Procedural Posture

         The Indictment charges Defendant with: (Count 1) Possession of an Unregistered Firearm - Short Barreled Shotgun, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841(a), 5845(a)(2), 5861(d), and 5871. On October 4, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to suppress the fruit of a search of his affects seized at the time of his arrest. (Doc. 20.) The Government filed its response on October 18, 2017, and this Court held a hearing on November 2, 2017. (Docs. 24, 27, 32.) On November 20, 2017, Defendant filed a supplemental motion seeking to suppress recorded statements he made during his initial post-arrest interview on May 11, 2016. (Doc. 33.) The Government filed its response opposing the motion on November 22, and this Court held a hearing on November 30, 2017. (Docs. 40, 41.)

         II. Background

         In the Motion to Suppress (Doc. 20), Defendant moves the Court to prohibit the United States from “procee[ding]” in this federal case “for possession of an unlawful firearm, ” because he contends that the inventory of his personal effects violated the federal Constitution, New Mexico state constitution and New Mexico law. (Doc. 20 at 2-3.) Specifically, Defendant alleges that the supposed inventory search performed by law enforcement was mere pretext for an unlawful investigatory search without probable cause. (Id.) In his Supplemental Motion to Suppress, Defendant makes clear that he seeks to exclude the recorded statements made to then-Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office (“DASO”) Detective (now Las Cruces Police Department Officer) Pierce Wilber during his initial post-arrest interview on May 11, 2016.[1](Doc. 33.) The basis of this request for suppression is Defendant's assertion that DASO officers violated his right to counsel under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). (See Docs. 20 at 2-3; 33.)

         As to his initial motion to suppress, the Government responds that the motion should be denied because the search performed by law enforcement officers fell within the inventory exception to the warrant requirement and complied with all department inventory protocols. (Doc. 24 at 7-11.) Accordingly, the Government contends that the officer's conduct constituted a legitimate search under the Fourth Amendment and argues that the fruits of that search are admissible as evidence against the Defendant. (Id.) With regard to Defendant's supplemental motion, the Government asserts that the motion should be denied because Defendant acknowledged that Officer Wilber advised him of his Miranda rights and agreed voluntarily to provide statements to Officer Wilber, waiving his Fifth Amendment rights. (Doc. 40 at 1.) The Government further contends that at no time during the interview did Silva revoke his waiver of the right to counsel and to remain silent, meaning that his confession remains admissible. (Id. at 1-3.)

         III. Factual Findings

         Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that when factual issues are involved in deciding a motion, the Court must state its essential findings on the record. See Fed. R. Crim. P 12(d). The Court makes the following factual findings based on the evidence in the record and evidence adduced at the hearings. At the November 2 and November 30, 2017 hearings, the Court heard testimony from Deputy Jason Barnard, Deputy Tress Diaz, Deputy Michael Richards, and Officer Pierce Wilbur.

         On May 11, 2016, DASO deputies responded to a domestic disturbance at 2100 Isaacks Lane, Space 42, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g[2] at 18:13, 26:22, 40:24; Tr. of Nov. 30, 2017 Hr'g at 6:7-10; Doc. 24-1 at 1.) Defendant Izaiya Silva and his then-girlfriend, Syerra Benavidez, had been in an altercation at that location, which is the residence of Benavidez's mother, Judith Rodriguez. Rodriguez called the police because of the altercation. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 40:23-41:2; Doc. 24-1 at 1.) Through the investigation, DASO learned that Silva and Benavidez argued about cigarettes, and Silva began to choke Benavidez. (Doc. 24-2 at 2.)

         When DASO deputies arrived, Benavidez was having a panic attack, and Silva reentered the residence to attempt to calm down Benavidez. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 19:11- 20:8, 42:5-13; Doc. 24-2 at 2.) Deputy Barnard entered the residence to speak with Silva. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 20:5-12.) Silva, however, stepped away from Deputy Barnard, so Deputy Barnard attempted to place Silva in handcuffs to arrest him. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 20:19-25, 42:16-43:5.) But Silva resisted and pulled away. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 20:24-25, 43:5-7.) Deputy Barnard then placed Silva under arrest for the criminal offenses of battery of a household member and resisting and obstructing a law enforcement investigation. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 21:1-5, 43:21-24; Doc. 24-2 at 2.)

         When DASO deputies arrested Silva, Silva's bags were laying in the front yard of Rodriguez's residence at 2100 Isaacks. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 32:3-10, 44:2-22, 53:17- 25; Tr. of Nov. 30, 2017 Hr'g at 6:15-20; Doc. 24-1 at 1.) Rodriguez informed deputies that she didn't want Silva's bags at her residence. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 21:17-21, 44:18-22; Tr. of Nov. 30, 2017 Hr'g at 6:20-22; Doc. 24-1 at 1.) Rodriguez stated that she was on probation and believed that the bags possibly contained drugs or weapons. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 73:3-6; Tr. of Nov. 30, 2017 Hr'g at 6:23-25; Doc. 24-1 at 1.)

         Because the deputies were going to take Silva to jail and because 2100 Isaacks was not Silva's residence, the deputies took the bags into custody for safekeeping. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 21:24-22:21, 26:23-25, 45:5-17, 47:13-14, 54:1-5; Tr. of Nov. 30, 2017 Hr'g at 7:4- 7; Doc. 24-1 at 1; Doc. 24-2 at 2.) As part of their standard operating procedures, Deputies Barnard and Tress inventoried Silva's property for safekeeping. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 22:18-23:25, 46:1-49:4. 63:18-64:11; Tr. of Nov. 30, 2017 Hr'g at 7:7; Doc. 24-2 at 2.) During the inventory, DASO deputies discovered two firearms: (i) a Marlin, model 200 12- gauge shotgun, bearing serial number KN107621, that had been sawed off at the barrel and stock; and (ii) a unknown manufacturer, unknown model, .22-caliber bolt action long rifle, bearing serial number 458114, that had also been sawed off at the barrel and the stock. (Tr. of Nov. 2, 2017 Hr'g at 24:1-26:14, 49:3-25, 64:22-67:1; Tr. of Nov. 30, 2017 Hr'g at 7:7-11; Doc. 24-3 at 1; Doc. 24-1 at 1.)

         DASO Investigator Pierce Wilber interviewed Silva after his arrest. (Tr. of Nov. 30, 2017 Hr'g at 9:13-19; Doc. 24-1 at 1-2.) After introducing himself and providing Silva's identification information, Officer Wilber confirmed with Silva -- with which Silva acknowledged and agreed -- that he advised him ...


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