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United States v. Parr

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

December 20, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM PARR, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JAMES E. SEIBERT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On August 8, 2017, the Grand Jury named Defendant in a four-count indictment. Count One of the indictment charges him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine. Counts Two and Three charge him with distribution of methamphetamine. Count Four charges him with being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. There is also a forfeiture allegation.

         The Defendant filed two motions to suppress; one to suppress statements, and one to suppress evidence. The Court held a hearing regarding these motions on December 6, 2017. The Defendant appeared in person and by his counsel Kevin L. Neiswonger, Esq. The Government appeared through its counsel Robert H. McWilliams, Jr., Esq., and L. Danae DeMasi-Lemon, Esq. Lieutenant Shannon Huffman testified on behalf of the Government. The Defendant testified on his own behalf.

         The Count is not persuaded by either of the Defendant's motions and recommends that they be denied.

         II. FINDINGS OF FACT

         On December 5, 2016, Defendant was pulled over by Lieutenant Huffman of the Tyler County Sheriff's Department. Lieutenant Huffman had known of, and dealt with, the Defendant for several years, including trying to convince him to work as an undercover informant in 2009. More recently, Lieutenant Huffman had developed a belief, through his own investigation and through conversations with other local law enforcement officers, that Defendant was currently involved in the distribution of methamphetamines.

         On December 2, 2016, Lieutenant Huffman obtained a search warrant for Defendant's residence, and an RV on the same property based on information that had been collected in the investigation of the Defendant. For approximately a month leading up to obtaining the search warrant, Lieutenant Huffman had also been monitoring Defendant's travel via a GPS monitoring device on Defendant's vehicle pursuant to a court order. The device enabled Lieutenant Huffman to monitor the whereabouts of Defendant's vehicle on his phone.

         On December 5, 2016, Lieutenant Huffman got an alert on his phone that the Defendant's vehicle had left the area it usually stayed within and traveled to Wood County, West Virginia. Lieutenant Huffman had information through his investigation that Defendant was involved in methamphetamine distribution with people near that area.

         Throughout his investigation, Lieutenant Huffman was aware that Defendant's driver's license was revoked due to a felony DUI as he had checked on the status of Defendant's driver's license several times. When Defendant arrived back near his residence, which is near the edge of the city limits of Middlebourne, West Virginia, Lieutenant Huffman conducted a traffic stop of the Defendant. Although the stated reason for the stop was for driving with a revoked driver's license, Lieutenant Huffman chose this time to conduct the stop because the Defendant's unusual travel that day made him suspicious of drug activity, and for the purpose of ultimately conducting a search of Defendant's residence and RV pursuant to the search warrant.

         Lieutenant Huffman asked the Defendant where he had been. Based on the information he had from GPS monitoring of the vehicle, Lieutenant Huffman believed Defendant's answer to be a lie. Lieutenant Huffman then obtained a written consent from the Defendant to search the vehicle. After the search of the vehicle was complete, Lieutenant Huffman informed the Defendant that he had a search warrant for his residence, at which point the Defendant asked to speak to Lieutenant Huffman. The Defendant got into the passenger seat of Lieutenant Huffman's patrol car, and Lieutenant Huffman verbally mirandized him. They then spoke about the Defendant's drug related activity. They waited for a tow truck to arrive to tow Defendant's vehicle, then they proceeded to Defendant's residence to execute the search warrant.

         Once in the residence, the Defendant told officers which bedroom was his. They found several firearms in the Defendant's bedroom. Lieutenant Huffman knew the Defendant was prohibited from possessing firearms as Lieutenant Huffman knew him to be a convicted felon. After searching the residence, Lieutenant Huffman proceeded to search the RV, where he found methamphetamine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.

         Later that evening, the Defendant went with law enforcement officers to the sheriff's office where he was reminded of his Miranda warnings by Lieutenant Huffman. The Defendant proceeded to discuss his involvement in methamphetamine distribution. At some point during the conversation, Lieutenant Huffman also obtained written consent from the Defendant to search his phone. Defendant then went home. The following day, the Defendant came back to the sheriff's office. Lieutenant Huffman again mirandized the Defendant and the Defendant signed a form acknowledging waiver of his Miranda rights. Defendant then gave a taped statement. Afterward, the Defendant again left the sheriff's office.

         III. ...


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