Argued: November 1, 2018
from the United States District Court for the District of
Maryland, at Greenbelt. Theodore D. Chuang, District Judge.
Daniel Medinger, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY,
Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant.
Oakes Macbeth, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER,
Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.
Stephen M. Schenning, Acting United States Attorney, Ray D.
McKenzie, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant.
Wyda, Federal Public Defender, Baltimore, Maryland,
Skelton, Appellate Attorney, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC
DEFENDER, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee.
WILKINSON, WYNN, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.
WILKINSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
jury indicted defendant-appellee Tyrone Lyles for possessing
firearms as a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g). The firearms were found in his home, which
police searched after obtaining a warrant based on finding
three marijuana stems in a trash pull. Lyles filed a motion
to suppress the evidence found in his home- including the
firearms, ammunition, and marijuana-arguing that the trash
pull did not provide probable cause for the search. The
district court granted defendant's motion, and the
government now appeals. For the reasons that follow, we
affirm the district court.
George's County Police, during an investigation unrelated
to the present case, saw Lyles's phone number in a
homicide victim's cell phone. They suspected that
defendant might be relevant to that investigation. But it was
only a hunch. So the police searched four trash bags found at
a curb near Lyles's home and applied for a warrant to
search Lyles's home based on what they found. The
application's factual basis is quoted below:
During the month of January, 2015, members of the Prince
George's County Police Department became involved in an
investigation of the residence located at 9010 Ridgewood Dr.,
Ft. Washington, Prince George's County Maryland 20744.
Investigators had become aware of possible connections
between the residence, its occupants and unlawful activities.
Pursuant to this investigation, on January 5th,
2014 [sic] Your Affiant along with Sergeant Logan #2528
observed four large green plastic bags were abandoned on the
curb side of 9010 Ridgewood Dr., Ft. Washington, Prince
George's County Maryland 20744. Your Affiant along with
Sergeant Logan #2528 removed the four green plastic bags from
the curb and upon inspection your Affiant found three unknown
type plant stems, three empty packs of rolling papers and one
document addressed to 9010 Ridgewood Dr., Ft. Washington,
Prince George's County Maryland 20744. The stems were
taken to the Prince George's County Drug Lab where they
tested positive for marijuana by a forensic chemist.
That upon the above described information and your
Affiant's knowledge, training and experience, your
Affiant believes that there are controlled dangerous
substances, Marijuana, and handguns being stored, used and/or
sold at 9010 Ridgewood Dr., Ft. Washington, Prince
George's County Maryland 20744.
J.A. 24-25 (emphasis omitted). The affidavit included only
these limited facts and general averments that marijuana is
often stored in secure locations and disposed of nearby. It
sought to search the home for evidence of possession of
controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute
controlled substances, and money laundering. See Md. Code
Ann., Crim. Law §§ 5-601, 5-602, and 5-623 (West
2018). The application provided the magistrate with no facts
about the earlier, unrelated investigation involving the
recovered phone. It did not identify a homeowner or name the
magistrate judge, however, granted a warrant to search
defendant's home in toto. The warrant provided
broad permissions to search the home and "any and all
persons suspected to be involved in said illegal
activities." J.A. 28. It authorized the police to seize
essentially anything in the home, including cell phones,
jewelry, records, diaries, and firearms. The police