United States District Court, D. Delaware
HONORABLE LEONARD P. STARK UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
before the Court are Defendant Angel Velez-Encarnacion's
("Velez") Omnibus Pre-Trial Motion (D.I. 37), which
consists of 11 parts, and Defendant Wilfredo
Garcia-Alicea's ("Garcia") Motion for Leave to
Join and Adopt Co-Defendants' Motions (D.I. 58), Motion
for Early Release of Jencks Act Material (D.I. 59), Motion
for the Production of 404(b) Evidence (D.I. 60), and Motion
to Preserve and Produce Notes (D.I. 61). Defendant Jose
Santos-Matos ("Santos") has joined in all pending
motions. (D.I. 66, 80) The government responded to these
motions on April 9, 2018 ("Response"). (D.I. 77) On
May 16, 2018, Velez filed a reply brief. (D.I. 98)
IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
Velez's Omnibus Pre-Trial Motion (D.I. 37) is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
PART, as explained herein.
A. Part XI, Motion for Leave to Join Co-Defendants'
Pre-Trial Motions, is GRANTED.
B. Based on the government's representations in its
Response, the following parts are DENIED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE: Motion for Bill of Particulars (Part I),
Motion for Additional Discovery (Part II), Motion for
Disclosure and Production of Informants and Witnesses (Part
III), Motion for Preservation and Production of Agents'
Rough Notes (Part IV), Motion for Disclosure of 404(b)
Material (Part V), Motion for Specific Brady
Disclosures (Part Vin), Motion for Severance Prejudicial
Joinder (Part DC), and Motion in Limine (Part X).
C. For the reasons stated below, Velez's Motion to
Suppress Physical Evidence (Part VI) is
DENIED and his Motion to Suppress Statements
(Part VII) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
Garcia's Motion for Leave to Join and Adopt
Co-Defendants' Motions (D.I. 58) is
Based on the government's representations in its
Response, Garcia's Motion for Early Release of Jencks Act
Material (D.I. 59), Motion for the Production of 404(b)
Evidence (D.I. 60), and Motion to Preserve and Produce Notes
(D.I. 61) are DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
Velez moves to suppress physical evidence seized in the
course of a search, based on his contention that the
authorities who executed the search warrant violated his
Fourth Amendment rights in their performance of the search.
In particular, Velez asserts that (a) "[t]he authorities
did not announce their purpose for being at the premises,
" (b) the authorities "forcibly opened the door to
the premises" two to three seconds after announcing
themselves, (c) "[t]he occupants of the premises were
not afforded an opportunity to voluntarily admit the
authorities, " (d) the authorities had "no reason
to believe that [they] were being denied entry, or that
evidence was being destroyed, " and (e) "[t]here
were no exigent circumstances to justify forcible entry into
the premises." (D.I. 37 at 4-5) However, as the
government states (D.I. 77 at 4-5), suppression of evidence
is not an appropriate remedy for knock-and-announce
violations (even assuming there were such violations).
See Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586, 594 (2006)
("What the knock-and-announce rule has never protected,
however, is one's interest in preventing the government
from seeing or taking evidence described in a warrant. Since
the interests that were violated in this case have nothing to
do with the seizure of evidence, the exclusionary rule is
inapplicable."); United States v. Briggs, 347
Fed.Appx. 750, 753 (3d Cir. 2009); United States v.
Davis, 2013 WL 3958804, at *5-6 (D. Del. July 30, 2013).
Even if suppression was an available remedy, the government
has demonstrated that a no-knock entry was permitted, because
the authorities had a "'reasonable suspicion that
knocking and announcing their presence, under the particular
circumstances, would be dangerous or futile, or that it would
inhibit the effective investigation of the crime.'"
(D.I. 77 at 5) (quoting Richards v. Wisconsin, 520
U.S. 385, 394 (1997)). Here, the authorities' no-knock
entry was permissible, because (a) arrests of all
co-defendants were being done simultaneously and extra time
would have given Velez a chance to warn the others, (b) the
known layout of the apartment created a heightened safety
risk, and (c) the phone that the investigators were after
could have been destroyed (and was indeed snapped in half).
(See Id. at 5-6) Velez did not respond to the
government's arguments regarding this motion in his reply
Velez also moves to suppress statements he made while in
custody after being advised of his Miranda rights.
(D.I. 37 at 5-6) Velez asserts that he declined to make a
statement and requested counsel, but that authorities
elicited statements in violation of his Fifth and Sixth
Amendment rights. (See id.) A videotape of
Velez's interview shows that a DEA agent read Velez his
Miranda rights in Spanish, Velez waived them
verbally and on a written "Advice of Rights" form
in Spanish, and he did not invoke his right to remain silent
or his right to an attorney. (See D.I. 77 Ex. 3;
see also Id. at 7-8) In his reply brief, Velez
asserts that he "could not knowingly, intelligently, and
voluntarily waive the privilege against self-incrimination as
well as the right to counsel, " because "he was
under the influence of controlled
substances."(D.I. 98 at 1)
Velez requests an evidentiary hearing on this motion.
(See Id. at 2) Evidentiary hearings on a motion to
suppress "are not granted as a matter of course."
United States v. Hines, 628 F.3d 101, 105 (3d Cir.
2010). "To require a hearing, a suppression motion must
raise issues of fact material to the resolution of the
defendant's constitutional claim." Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted). "A motion to
suppress requires an evidentiary hearing only if the motion
is sufficiently specific, non-conjectural, and detailed to
enable the court to conclude that (1) the defendant has
presented a colorable constitutional claim, and (2) there are
disputed issues of material fact that will affect the outcome
of the motion to suppress." Id.
defendant may waive his Miranda rights
"provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and
intelligently." Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S.
436, 444 (1966). A statement is made voluntarily "when
it is the product of an essentially free and unconstrained
choice by its maker, ... it was the product of a rational
intellect and a free will, and ... the [defendant's] will
was not overborne." United States v. Andrews,231 Fed.Appx. 174, 176 (3d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation
marks omitted). Many federal courts apply a test of coherence
(or an understanding of what is happening) when determining
whether a person is too affected by drugs to voluntarily and
intelligently waive his rights, and courts routinely deny
suppression motions despite the defendant being under such an
influence when waiving his rights. See United States v.
Adamson, 2008 WL 167299, at *7 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 16, 2008)
(citing cases). If the drug usage had the effect of
overcoming the defendant's free will, then the statements
made after the waiver of rights may be suppressed. See
United States v. Phuong Le, 2011 WL 913260, at *3 (E.D.
Pa. Mar. 11, 2011). However, "a self-supporting claim of
intoxication, standing alone, is insufficient to prove that
statements made to police were involuntary."
Id. at 4. Here, Velez has not presented specific
facts supporting his conclusory claim that he could not have