United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on defendant's motion to
suppress [DE 56]. The government has responded and the matter
is ripe for ruling. A hearing was held before the undersigned
in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 19,
2018. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.
November 4, 2015, using a confidential informant, two
officers with the Lenoir County Sheriff s Office conducted a
controlled purchase of crack cocaine at a trailer located at
4655 Sleepy Fox Drive in Grifton, North Carolina. Based on
this, one of the officers, Sgt. Villagra, applied for and
received a search warrant to search the residence. Superior
Court Judge Benjamin G. Alford signed the warrant on November
6, 2015. The warrant identified the location to be searched,
Hanzy's residence, as where the controlled purchase had
occurred. The warrant was executed on November 6,
2015. A grand jury returned an indictment against Hanzy on
November 21, 2016, charging him with possession with the
intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and cocaine base
(crack), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and
mamtaining a dwelling for the purpose of manufacturing,
distributing, and using controlled substances, in violation
of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1).
defendant has moved to suppress the evidence discovered
following the execution of the search warrant, including his
statement to law enforcement. Defendant argues that the
warrant is facially invalid as it does not provide enough
information to support a finding of probable cause.
challenges the search warrant as not being supported by
probable cause. Specifically, defendant argues that the
information provided to the superior court judge does not
provide sufficient details to support the conclusions
presented in the affidavit. Defendant claims the affidavit
does not contain sufficient details to connect the controlled
purchase to this defendant, such as the specific date and
time of the alleged purchase.
Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that "[t]he
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated." U.S. Const, amend. IV.
"The Fourth Amendment generally requires the police to
obtain a warrant before conducting a search, "
United States v. Kelly, 592 F.3d 586, 589 (4th Cir.
2010). In order to satisfy the Fourth Amendment a search
warrant must be supported by probable cause. United
States v. Harris, 403 U.S. 573, 577 (1971). "When
reviewing the probable cause supporting a warrant, a
reviewing court must consider only the information presented
to the magistrate who issued the warrant." United
States v. Wilhelm, 80 F.3d 116, 118 (4th Cir. 1996)
(citing United States v. Blackwood, 913 F.2d 139,
142 (4th Cir. 1990)). In deciding whether there is probable
cause, an officer of the court evaluates the totality of the
circumstances. When a magistrate or other officer-such as a
superior court judge, as here- determines there is probable
cause, that determination gets great deference. Illinois
v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238.
is probable cause to search when "there are reasonably
trustworthy facts which, given the totality of the
circumstances, are sufficient to lead a prudent person to
believe that the items sought constitute fruits,
instrumentalities, or evidence of crime and will be present
at the time and place of the search." United States
v. Suarez, 906 F.2d 977, 984 (4th Cir. 1990). A warrant
is deficient when it is based on an affidavit that does not
provide the magistrate or court officer with enough facts to
make an independent determination of probable cause.
United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 915 (1984). An
insufficient affidavit, or "bare bones" affidavit,
is one based on conclusory statements and bare assertions.
Id., at 923; United States v. DeQuasie, 373
F.3d 509, 512 (4th Cir. 2004).
the affidavit provided the following information: it
represents that crack cocaine had been sold to a confidential
informant, who was known to be trustworthy and reliable. The
controlled purchase had occurred at the home within 48 hours
of the application. It lists the officers involved and the
address in question, and notes that the address is
Hanzy's residence. The affidavit is neither conclusory
nor bare bones as the Fourth Circuit has described those
terms. See United States v. Wilhelm, 80F.3d 116, 121
(4th Cir. 1996) (warrant was based on a single anonymous
tip); United States v. Brown, 958 F.2d 369 (4th Cir.
1992) (warrant was based on four-month old activity, with no
indication it was still ongoing).
the Court holds that the judge "had a substantial basis
for concluding that probable cause existed, "
Gates, 462 U.S. at 238-39. Accordingly, the warrant
was validly issued and the evidence seized, including
defendant's statement, should not be suppressed.
above reasons, defendant's motion to ...