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United States v. Anaya

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 20, 2018

JOSEPH A. ANAYA, Defendant.


         THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Derived as a Result of an Invalid Arrest Warrant, filed September 24, 2018 (Doc. 75). Defendant contends that his arrest by Santa Fe, New Mexico, law enforcement was in violation of his Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure, because the arrest warrant lacked probable cause and therefore any evidence derived as a result of the unlawful arrest, including jailhouse phone calls, must be suppressed under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. Having reviewed the parties' briefs and applicable law, the Court finds that Defendant's motion is not well-taken and, therefore, is denied.


         Defendant is charged with felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1).

         On May 11, 2017, Defendant was arrested on state charges of (1) intimidation of a witness contrary to NMSA 1978 § 30-24-3(A)(2); (2) use of a telephone to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend contrary to NMSA 1978 §30-20-12; and (3) harassment contrary to NMSA 1978 §30-3A-2. The victim of all three charges was Defendant's older sister, Jolene Anaya (“Ms. Anaya”), with whom Defendant was involved in a continuing dispute concerning the care of Defendant's minor child.

         Defendant was arraigned on May 12. On May 17, 2017, a detention hearing was held, in which Ms. Anaya testified, and the state district court ordered that Defendant be detained. Based on Ms. Anaya's testimony, on May 25, 2017, Santa Fe Police Department (“SFPD”) Officer Evridge obtained jailhouse phone calls made by Mr. Anaya from the jail, from which a warrant was issued to search 4245 Parque De Villa in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a residence where Defendant had been living prior to his arrest by SFPD. A search was executed the following day, and SFPD officers found a handgun hanging in a bag in Defendant's closet.

         On May 30, 2017, a Criminal Complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, charging Mr. Anaya with one count in violation of 18 USC § 922(g)(1) (Doc. 1). Mr. Anaya was arrested by federal authorities on August 28, 2017, and appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Karen B. Molzen on the same day (Doc. 4).

         Defendant has previously challenged the veracity of the search warrant, seeking to suppress the handgun found in the Parque de Villa residence. The Court denied that motion. See Doc. 39 (Mem. Opin. & Order denying motion to suppress). Defendant argued that the affidavit supporting the search warrant was based on false information because it omitted the fact that Ms. Anaya saw the handgun in 2016 at Defendant's previous residence, rather than in 2017 at the Parque de Villa residence. However, the Court found that the affidavit supported probable cause for the search warrant “even with the omitted information”:

These circumstances include information that Officer Evridge had gathered over time. First, Officer Evridge had reason to believe that Defendant has violent tendencies, based on his own interaction with Defendant as well as from Ms. Anaya's statements. Doc. 23-1 at 8. Second, Defendant is a convicted felon and it has not been more than 10 years since his probation ended. Doc. 23-1 at 10. Third, Defendant has bragged that he has a handgun stolen from the State Police with the serial numbers filed off, and has made threats and continues to make threats, against his sister, Ms. Anaya. Doc. 23-1 at 8. Fourth, Ms. Anaya was in fear for her life and for her family's life and as of May 2017 was still afraid to enter Defendant's home (the Parque de Villa residence). Doc. 23-1 at 8. Fifth, during a May 20, 2017 telephone call from jail, Defendant asked the female on the other end of the conversation to retrieve that “thing” from a bag in his closet and hold onto it, telling her that his sister was trying to get him in “serious sh*t.” Doc. 23 at 9.

Doc. 39 at 13-14.

         Defendant has now filed a second motion to suppress. This motion to suppress challenges the adequacy (rather than the veracity) of the affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, claiming that Officer Evridge's affidavit did not include enough information to support a finding of probable cause as to any of the crimes with which he was charged. Defendant claims his phone calls made from jail were seized as a result of his illegal arrest and contends the all evidence found as a result of his unlawful arrest, including the phone calls, should be suppressed as “fruit of the poisonous tree” under the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule. His argument goes like this: if he had not been illegally arrested, he would not have been in jail to make the phone calls, no search warrant would have been issued, and no handgun would have been discovered hanging in the closet of the Parque de Villa apartment. The inquiry here is therefore the sufficiency of the affidavit supporting the arrest warrant.


         I. Relevant Law

         The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures and requires that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). Probable cause for an arrest warrant is established “by demonstrating a substantial probability that a crime has been committed and that a specific individual has committed the crime.” Taylor v. Meacham, 82 F.3d 1556, 1561 (10th Cir. 1996), cert denied 519 U.S. 871 (1996); Wolford v. Lasater, 78 F.3d 484, 489 (10th Cir. 1996). Generally speaking, probable cause exists when facts and circumstances are within an officer's knowledge, received through reasonable trustworthy information, that sufficiently warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe a crime has been or is being committed by the person to be arrested. United States v. Morgan, 936 F.2d 1561, 1568 (10th Cir. 1991).

         The Tenth Circuit determines whether there was probable cause for a warrant based on the totality of circumstances. United States v. Perrine, 518 F.3d 1196, 1205 (10th Cir. 2005) (internal citation omitted). The same probable cause standards are applicable to federal and state warrants under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Whiteley v. Warden, Wyo. State Penitentiary, 401 U.S. 560, 565 n.6 (1971). Only the probability, and not a prima facie showing, of criminal activity is the standard of probable cause. United States v. Nolan, 199 F.3d 1180, 1182-83 (10th Cir. 1999).

         II. Information Contained in Affidavit for Arrest Warrant

         The affidavit for the arrest warrant, May 11, 2017 contains the following information:[1]

• On May 9, 2017, Officer Evridge received a call for service from Defendant, who stated that he had court custody paperwork from his son; . During this call, Defendant was verbally abusive and initially non-compliant;
• After speaking with Defendant, Officer Evridge felt that it would be best from a safety standpoint to go with another officer to Defendant's home to retrieve the court documents;
• When Officers Evridge and Apodaca arrived at Defendant's home, Defendant was verbally aggressive with them, and made comments about his sister to the effect that he would go break her f**king neck if he didn't get his son back;
• Defendant also stated that he would kidnap his son if Ms. Anaya did not return him;
• Defendant insinuated a number of times that if the officers did not help him, he would take the matter into his own hands and retrieve his son on his own;
• The officers went to Ms. Anaya's home to retrieve Defendant's son, but Ms. Anaya asked them not to return Defendant's son to Defendant because the son feared Defendant. Defendant agreed to have his son stay with Ms. Anaya for the night;
• After the officers left Ms. Anaya's home, they went back to Defendant's home to return the court paperwork. Defendant argued with and was belligerent towards the officers;
• On May 10, 2017, Officer Evridge attended a safe house interview for Defendant's son. Following that interview, Officer Evridge was asked to attend a hearing in District Court for the custody case; . During the court hearing, Defendant, appearing by telephone, was verbally abusive towards the judge and called her a “punk ass;”
• On May 11, 2017, Officer Evridge conducted a victim/witness interview with Ms. Anaya regarding Defendant. Ms. Anaya stated that Defendant had called her work and was making additional threats towards her, including threats to “break her f**king neck, ” kidnap his son from Ms. Anaya, and that Ms. Anaya ...

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