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United States v. Jumper

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

September 20, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc. 16), which has been referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The issues have been fully briefed, and the matter is ripe for ruling. Having carefully reviewed the evidence, the arguments, and applicable authority, the undersigned respectfully recommends that the Motion be denied.

         I. Relevant Procedural Background

         A four-count Bill of Indictment was filed on January 16, 2019 charging Defendant with violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2241(c), 2244(a)(5) and 1153 (Doc. 1).

         On January 28, 2019, Defendant made an initial appearance during which counsel was appointed for him.

         Arraignment and detention hearings were conducted on January 30, 2019. Defendant entered a plea of not guilty and waived his right to a detention hearing.

         On May 3, 2019, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Suppress (Doc. 16) and a supporting brief (Doc. 17). The Government filed a response (Doc. 19) on May 31, 2019 and Defendant replied (Doc. 23) on July 8, 2019.

         On August 6, 2019, the undersigned conducted an evidentiary hearing on the Motion. Special Assistant United States Attorney Justin Eason appeared for the Government. Assistant Federal Defenders Fredilyn Sison and Jared Martin appeared with Defendant. The Government called Jason Cable, Daniel Iadonisi, and Mary Lambert, all of whom are detectives with the Cherokee Indian Police Department (“CIPD”). The Government also submitted, without objection, a video recording of the subject interrogation, [1] a transcript of the interrogation, and a CIPD Rights Form. Defendant called Dr. Richard Leo, a professor of law and social psychology at the School of Law at the University of San Francisco.

         II. Factual Background and Findings

         A. Law Enforcement's Initial Contact with Defendant

         On August 29, 2018, Detective Lambert, who was then the Acting Interim Lieutenant of the Investigations Division of the CIPD, learned of allegations of criminal conduct concerning Defendant from other CIPD personnel. Detective Lambert dispatched Detective Cable and Detective Iadonisi to locate and question Defendant.

         Since Defendant was expected to be on a portion of the Cherokee Indian Reservation with which Detectives Cable and Iadonisi were unfamiliar, other CIPD officers helped with the search. One of those officers took Detectives Cable and Iadonisi to Defendant's home in the Snowbird community near Robbinsville, North Carolina.

         Defendant was not at home when they arrived but was found at a nearby residence. Detectives Cable and Iadonisi advised Defendant that allegations involving him had been made and asked if he would accompany them to the police station for questioning. Defendant agreed. He was not placed under arrest or in handcuffs at the time.

         The evidence indicates that an arrest warrant and a criminal complaint were issued for Defendant that day, though the extent of the detectives' knowledge of those documents at the time they contacted Defendant is unclear. It is undisputed, however, that Defendant was not advised of the existence of the warrant and complaint until after his interrogation.

         Detectives Cable and Iadonisi then transported Defendant in a law enforcement vehicle to the CIPD in Cherokee, North Carolina, approximately one hour away. Detective Cable drove, Defendant rode in the front seat, and Detective Iadonisi sat in the backseat. Some amount of “small talk” may have occurred during the trip, but the detectives did not ask Defendant any questions regarding the allegations against him.

         B. The Interrogation

         Upon reaching the police station, which was located in the same building as the tribal courthouse, Defendant was placed in a relatively small interrogation room that contained a table and three chairs. Defendant was seated at the end of the table closest to the door, which remained unlocked throughout the interrogation. The room was equipped with audio and visual recording capabilities and a recording was initiated upon Defendant's entrance into the room. Defendant was allowed to keep his cell phone and was not prohibited from accessing the public Wi-Fi network that was available in the building.

         After approximately fifteen minutes, [2] Detectives Cable and Iadonisi entered the room and Detective Cable advised Defendant they wanted to speak with him regarding an issue pertaining to his girlfriend and her daughter. Detective Iadonisi provided Miranda warnings to Defendant using the Rights Form, which Defendant initialed and executed. Defendant did not appear to have difficulty understanding the form or the waiver of his rights.

         Over portions of the next three hours, Defendant was questioned by Detectives Cable, Iadonisi, and Lambert. The questioning was not continuous, however; Defendant was left alone in the room at times and on one occasion is seen on the video using his phone.[3] No more than two detectives were in the room with Defendant at any given time, and on some occasions only one detective was with him.

         Defendant was offered water and rest room breaks. The detectives were armed with sidearms, but they did not unholster their weapons or refer to them in any manner. Voices were not raised, and the questioning remained calm throughout its duration.

         Other than leaving once to use the restroom, Defendant remained in the room and seated during the interrogation. Defendant was coherent and alert and answered the detectives' questions clearly. Defendant did not ask that ...

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