United States District Court, E.D. New York
March 2, 2004.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -against- CHARLES WYCHE, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS PLATT, JR., Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Defendant Charles Wyche moves pursuant to Rules 12 and 41 of the
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth
Amendments of the United States Constitution, to suppress the physical
evidence offered against him, his identification by a witness at the
scene of the alleged crime, and also the written statement elicited from
him by the police subsequent to his arrest. For the following reasons,
Wyche's motions are DENIED.
A. Factual background
Nassau County police officers arrested Wyche in the early morning hours
of November 29, 2002 at the Courtesy Motel in Hempstead, New York.
According to the police, an unnamed witness approached one of the
policemen, Sergeant Donald Kunst, who responded to a report of a minor
automobile accident in
the motel's parking lot. The witness stated to Sergeant Kunst that
a man involved in the accident earlier tried to sell him a silver-colored
.380 caliber semi-automatic pistol in the hallway of the motel.
See the Government's Memorandum in Opposition to Wyche's
Motions to Suppress at 3-4; Wyche's Post-hearing Memorandum of Law in
Support of his Motions to Suppress at 1-2.
The witness described a black male wearing a yellow jacket and a "bell
hat." The witness recounted that after the unsuccessful attempt to sell
him a handgun, the man returned to a third-floor room of the motel.
Authorities subsequently learned that Room 330 had been registered to
Wyche. See the Government's Memorandum at 3; Wyche's Memorandum
Meanwhile, a second witness involved in the accident, Francis Combs,
was talking with another officer who responded to the scene, Officer John
Bailey. While speaking with the officer, Combs unfortunately dropped a
receipt for his recent purchase of a nine-millimeter semi-automatic
pistol at the feet of Officer Bailey. Informed by the officer that the
possession of an unlicensed firearm was a felony in New York State, Combs
admitted that he placed a nine-millimeter semi-automatic pistol under a
mattress in Room 330 of the motel. See the Government's
Memorandum at 3; Wyche's Memorandum at 3.
Combs stated that he rented this room along with Wyche, with whom he
traveled from West Virginia the day before. Combs stated to Officer
Bailey that the police could "go up to the room and get the gun." Combs
then gave Officer Bailey a key to the motel room, and consented to a
search. See the Government's Memorandum at 3; Wyche's
Memorandum at 3, 9.
En route to Room 330, the police encountered Wyche, a black man,
wearing a yellow jacket and a bell cap, as he emerged from the motel's
elevator. The police placed Wyche under arrest. Wearing handcuffs, and
standing between a brace of officers in the glare of a police cruiser's
turret and search lights, the original, unnamed witness identified Wyche
as the man who attempted to sell him a pistol. See the
Government's Memorandum at 3; Wyche's Memorandum at 3-4, 6.
Contemporaneously, upon entering Room 330, police discovered Wyche's
girlfriend, Kelly Garner, and placed her under arrest. An immediate
search of the room by Sergeant Kunst and an Officer Douglas produced the
nine-millimeter pistol located under the mattress, as described by Combs,
and also a box of nine-millimeter ammunition on the floor. See
the Government's Memorandum at 3; Wyche's Memorandum at 4.
A further search of the room revealed a closed yet un-zippered duffel
bag laying on the windowsill. The police searched this bag, and
discovered the silver-finished .380 caliber High Standard semi-automatic
pistol mentioned by the original witness, a loaded .22 caliber Arcadia
revolver, and a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun. The bag, and its contents,
belonged to Wyche. See the Government's Memorandum at 3;
Wyche's Memorandum at 4-5.
After Wyche's arrest, at the Fifth Precinct's detective squad, Wyche
signed a statement in which he admitted, to Detective Joel Mitchell of
the Nassau County Police, his ownership of the firearms found in his bag
in his motel room. The statement, typewritten by Detective Mitchell,
included a waiver of Wyche's rights as provided for in Miranda v.
Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). See the Government's
Memorandum at 4, and at Exhibit A; Wyche's Memorandum at 7-9.
The authorities then learned that Wyche was a felon. On March 11, 2003,
a federal warrant issued for his arrest, and on March 14th the Government
charged Wyche with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), which forbids felons to possess, receive, ship
or transport firearms or ammunition.
B. Procedural background
A grand jury indicted Wyche on this single count on April 10, 2003, and
he was arraigned before this Court on April 24th, at which time he
entered a plea of not guilty. A suppression hearing was held on October
27th. Wyche and the Government finished exchanging papers on February 26,
2004. This decision follows.
C. Causes of action
On August 1, 2003 Wyche moved to suppress (i) the weapons found in his
bag in his motel room, (ii) his identification by the witness at the
motel, and also (iii) his statement to Detective Mitchell, on the bases
of FED. RS. CRIM. P. 12 and 41,*fn1 and
U.S. CONST. AMENDS. IV, V and VI.*fn2
Wyche claims (1) that Combs lacked the authority to consent to the
search of Room 330, that whatever authority Combs may have given he gave
involuntarily, and that the police exceeded the scope of any such
authority, and that the search therefore violated of the Warrant Clause
of the Fourth Amendment; (2), that his
identification at the motel is unreliable, as it was conducted in
an unduly suggestive manner, in violation of the Due Process Clause of
the Fifth Amendment; (3) that the police coerced his incriminating
statement from him while he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs,
in violation of the Fifth Amendment's safeguards against
self-incrimination; and (4) that the police denied his requests for the
assistance of an attorney during his custodial interrogation, in
violation of the right-to-counsel provisions of the Sixth Amendment.
A. The Government's legal burden
On a motion to suppress evidence in a criminal trial, once Wyche
establishes a basis for his motion, the burden rests upon the Government
to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, the legality of the actions
of its officers. See, e.g., United States v. Gotti,
244 F. Supp.2d 120, 124 (E.D.N.Y. 2003); United States v. Dickerson,
113 F. Supp.2d 324, 326 (N.D.N.Y. 2000).
B. Fourth Amendment claims regarding the physical evidence
Wyche moves to suppress the physical evidence offered against him on
the theory that the police lacked his consent to conduct a warrantless
search of either his motel room or his bag. Wyche's argument is not
sufficient to merit the suppression
of the evidence. Even if Combs lacked actual authority to consent
to a search of his and Wyche's motel room, Combs had apparent authority
to do so. And there is no evidence that Combs was coerced into giving
this authority. The police were then justified in conducting the
subsequent search of Wyche's bag under the exigent circumstances
exception to the warrant requirement. In any case, the bag would have
been searched and the weapons within it inventoried as seized property,
as Wyche was simultaneously being taken into custody, and the firearms
would therefore have inevitably been discovered.
1. Combs' actual authority to consent to a search of Room
Wyche states that "[u]sing a driver's license as identification, a room
was obtained under his name. Mr. Wyche, alone, signed the registration
form [for] Room 330," and that Wyche "did not give anyone consent to
search Room 330. No one, other than Charles Wyche . . . had the
authority to consent to a search of Room 330." Wyche's Declaration in
Support of His Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence and Statement at
¶¶ 6 and 10; Wyche's Memorandum at 8-10.
The Government states that Combs
voluntarily gave [Nassau County Police Department]
officers the key to Room 330. [Francis Combs] and
[Jennifer Combs] had traveled to the Motel with
[Wyche] and [Kelly Garner] so that [the Combses]
could obtain a [m]otel room. [Combs] paid for the
Motel room and obtained
the key to Room 330.
Government's Memorandum at 3.
Hotel/motel rooms present unique issues regarding consensual searches.
United States District Judge Robert Patterson stated, regarding a search
of a hotel room, that
[I]t is the law in this circuit that one who has
authority over common premises sought to be
inspected may consent to such a search and his
consent is valid as against an absent,
non-consenting person who shares authority, as
long as the consenting party had a sufficient
relationship with the premises, such as mutual
use, or joint access or control.
United States v. Aguirre-Parra, 763 F. Supp. 1208
1218-19 (S.D.N.Y. 1991) (citing United States v. Trzaska,
859 F.2d 1118
, 1120 (2nd Cir. 1988)).
In the instant case, while Room 330 was registered to Wyche, Combs
allegedly paid for the room, possessed a key for the room, and stored his
nine-millimeter pistol in the room. These factors indicate that Combs
shared "mutual use, or joint access or control" of Room 330 with Wyche,
and may therefore have given valid consent for the Room to be searched.
Especially probative is Combs' possession of the room key, as "the Second
Circuit has found a key to the premises to be a factor in the analysis of
common authority." United States v. Ramirez, 115 F. Supp.2d 401,
408 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (relying on Trzaska, 859 F.2d at
2. Combs' apparent authority to consent to a search of Room
Valid consent for a search may be established "where the police
reasonably believed that a party had the authority to consent, even if
that belief is erroneous." See O'Rourke v. Huff, 43 Fed. Appx.
436, 438 (2d. Cir. 2002) (relying upon Illinois v. Rodriguez,
497 U.S. 177, 185-86 (1990)). In this case, Combs' possession of the key
to Room 330, as well as his statement to police that he had paid for the
room, is enough to have led the police to reasonably believe that the
individual could give valid consent for a search of the room. As the
Government states in its Memorandum, the "standard to be applied to the
officer's conduct is one of reasonableness, and not clairvoyance."
Id. at 7 (citing Rodriguez, 497 U.S. at 185-86)).
Combs' possession of the motel room key is enough to meet this lesser
3. The voluntariness of Combs' consent to search Room 330
Wyche claims that the police coerced Combs into granting them the
authority to search Room 330. Wyche argues that Combs and his wife were
detained by anywhere from five to ten uniformed
police officers who, of course, were armed with
their service weapons . . .[they] were not
free to leave . . .[they] were told by Officer
Bailey that they had committed a crime by
possessing a nine-millimeter [hand]gun in New York
These circumstances, in Wyche's view, lead to an inference of
coercion and the
invalidity of any consent he may have given. See Wyche's
Memorandum at 9-10.
The fact that Combs was surrounded by several armed and uniformed
police officers, while probative, is not dispositive regarding the
question of whether Combs was coerced. The reality of life in the United
States is that encounters between its citizens and the majority of its
police personnel will involve civilians being confronted by uniformed men
who are visibly under arms. Due to the violence endemic in our society,
Americans lack the luxury of a typically unarmed constabulary such as the
Yet there is no allegation, despite the fact that Combs was thought by
Officer Bailey to be in possession of a pistol, that he or the other
officers unholstered their sidearms or shouldered any long guns. And it
is the brandishing or display police weapons, and not their mere
presence, that most often leads courts to consider whether an individual
has been coerced by the authorities into granting consent to a search or
making a confession. See generally United States v. Mendenhall,
446 U.S. 544, 554 (1980) (Stewart, J.), and its progeny. Also, there is
no allegation that Combs was threatened with the use of force if he
refused to consent to a search of Room 330.
The fact that Combs was being detained by Officer Bailey, who
truthfully informed Combs that he was likely in violation of New York
law,"*fn3 is similarly probative to, but also not dispositive of,
an analysis of whether Combs was coerced. After Officer Bailey saw Combs'
receipt for the purchase of a handgun, and ascertained that Combs lacked
a valid pistol permit, Officer Bailey reasonably suspected Combs of
violating § 265.01. Combs certainly had impetus to cooperate with
Officer Bailey at that point. Yet there is no allegation that, for
example, Officer Bailey offered to release Combs in return for his
consent to search Room 330. To the contrary, the police placed Combs
under arrest when they discovered his unlicensed pistol.
There is no doubt that several police officers, armed as in the usual
course of their duties, had seized Combs within the meaning of the Fourth
Amendment at the time Combs gave Officer Bailey consent to search Room
330 he was clearly not free to go. However, under the totality of
the circumstances, on the basis of the record presented, there is no
evidence that leads the Court to conclude that the police then coerced
Combs into consenting to the search.
4. Exigent circumstances and the search of Wyche's bag within
A closer question is that of Sergeant Kunst and Officer Douglas' search
of Wyche's bag after they entered Room 330 and discovered Combs' pistol.
Combs' authority to consent to the officer's search of the motel room to
which he and the Wyche had joint control did not extend to the search of
Wyche's bag. However, having discovered one pistol hidden within the
room, and with another suspect, Garner, in custody in the room, it was
prudent of the police to secure their surroundings and ensure that no one
gained access to any other hidden weapons, such as those discovered in
While there does not appear to be a case precisely on point within this
jurisdiction (c.f. United States v. Orejuela-Guevara,
659 F. Supp. 882, 889 (E.D.N.Y. 1987) (holding that a joint occupant did
not have the authority to consent to a search, for drugs, in
containers found in a closet)), this Court finds that the search of this
bag was permissible under the exigent circumstances doctrine, due to the
dangers posed to the police by the presence of the firearms.
Police officers face special threats from perpetrators who may possess,
or obtain access to, firearms. In 2002, the last year for which complete
statistics are available, 51 American law enforcement officers were
feloniously killed by assailants bearing firearms. See Federal
Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Law
Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (available
at www.fbi.gov/ucr/killed/02leoka.pdf). Almost one peace officer per
week dies at the hands of a gun-wielding suspect somewhere in the United
States, and indeed two New York City police detectives were murdered
within this jurisdiction in the past year by individuals engaged in
illegal firearms trafficking.
Once the police discovered the nine-millimeter pistol secreted within
the motel room, a room where one suspect was present, where the officers
had reasonable suspicion that at least one other firearm (the .380
pistol) was present but not yet discovered, exigent circumstances
existed. These circumstances permitted the police to conduct a
warrantless search of Wyche's bag to secure the weapons contained therein
and to ensure the safety of themselves and the public.
It is of note is that Combs and Wyche were allegedly caught in the act
of illegally trafficking in firearms. Other prospective buyers or sellers
of weapons might subsequently have arrived at Room 330, creating an even
more dangerous situation. The police need not have waited for one of the
three other firearms hidden in the room to suddenly appear in the hands
of a malefactor. The officers were within their authority, under the
exigent circumstances doctrine, to search for and exercise preventative,
positive control over these weapons.
5. Inevitable discovery and the search of Wyche's bag within
Police arrested Wyche when he emerged from the motel's elevator and met
the police who were headed to Room 330, on the basis of Wyche's matching
the description of the weapons-seller identified by the original witness.
Wyche was already lawfully in custody downstairs when Sergeant Kunst and
Officer Douglas then discovered Wyche's pistols and shotgun in his bag
It was inevitable that the police would have discovered Wyche's weapons
when they conducted an inventory search of Wyche's possessions. And
evidence that is illegally obtained will not be suppressed if the
evidence would have been inevitably obtained, usually on the basis of
police inventory search procedures. See United States v.
Mendez, 315 F.3d 132, 137-38 (2d Cir. 2002).
Wyche having been taken into custody on the basis of the witness
identification, the police would have seized his luggage from his motel
room. (It is unlikely that the motel owner would allow Wyche to
indefinitely keep his belongings there.) To protect the property of
suspects from theft by unscrupulous officers, and to protect the police
against false claims of the same, and to ensure that the police do not
unknowingly have any dangerous items in their possession such as,
in this case, Wyche's loaded .22 caliber revolver the police
routinely inventory the items they
seize. See, e.g., Illinois v. Lafayette, 462 U.S. 640,
646-48 (1983) (explaining the rationale of the inevitable discovery
doctrine and upholding the constitutionality of an inventory search of a
suspect's shoulder bag subsequent to his arrest). Wyche's three weapons
would have inevitably, and lawfully, been discovered in his duffel bag
when the bag was later inventoried at the Fifth Precinct after Wyche's
To recapitulate the Fourth Amendment issues, Combs likely had actual
authority and certainly had apparent authority to consent to a search of
Room 330, and he appears to have given this authority voluntarily;
furthermore, the police were justified in searching Wyche's bag under the
doctrine of exigent circumstances; finally, the evidence found in Wyche's
bag is admissible under the doctrine of inevitable discovery. Wyche's
motion to suppress the physical evidence offered against him as having
been obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment is accordingly
C. The identification of Wyche
Wyche moves to suppress evidence of the witness identification that the
Government offers against him on the theory that the "show-up"
identification of him was unreliable because it was conducted in an
impermissibly suggestive manner, so much so that the procedures used
violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth
Amendment.*fn4 Specifically, Wyche objects to having been "flanked
by uniformed police officers" and "displayed in the beams of Officer
Bailey's vehicle's turret and search lights," and to having been "the
only civilian in handcuffs." Also, the identifying witness "never gave
Sergeant Kunst information as to the gun seller's height, weight, age,
distinguishing marks, hair color or eye color." Wyche's Memorandum at
A court's determination of whether identification procedures are
impermissibly suggestive, and might result in an unreliable
identification, requires consideration of the totality of the
circumstances. Piper v. Purtuondo, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 22557
at *23 (2d Cir. Oct. 31, 2003). Factors to consider include
(1) the opportunity of the witness to view the
criminal at the time of the crime, (2) the
witness' degree of attention, (3) the accuracy of
the witness' prior description of the criminal,
(4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the
witness at the confrontation, and (5) the length
of time between the crime and the confrontation.
No single factor is dispositive and the question
of independent reliability must be assessed in
light of "the totality of the circumstances."
Lee v. Keane, 50 Fed. Appx. 497, 499 (2d Cir. 2002)
(relying upon Neil v. Biggers,
409 U.S. 188
, 199-200 (1972)).
Using these factors, and applying them in consideration of the totality
of the circumstances, the witness' identification of Wyche at the show-up
is not unreliable due to the use of unduly suggestive procedures.
The witness had a good opportunity to view Wyche when Wyche allegedly
offered to sell him the .380 pistol.
There is no direct evidence as to the witness' degree of attention at
the time of his initial sighting of Wyche, but he is alleged to have had
a face-to-face conversation with Wyche about buying an illegal weapon,
circumstances that imply a high degree of attention.
While, as Wyche argues, the witness did not specify Wyche's height,
weight, age, distinguishing marks, hair color or eye color, he did
describe Wyche's race and sex, the color of his jacket, and the unique
style of Wyche's hat. The witness also described the caliber, color and
type of a pistol that corresponded to a weapon later recovered in Wyche's
bag. And the witness described the correct floor of the motel, if not the
correct room, on which Wyche was staying.
There is no information as to the witness' degree of certainty
The witness appears to have viewed Wyche very soon the time
period is not specified in either party's papers, but it appears to be a
period of at most a few hours after Wyche's alleged attempted
sale of the pistol to the witness.
Four of the five factors enumerated by the Supreme Court in Neil
v. Biggers, 409 U.S. at 199-200, indicate that this witness'
identification is likely reliable enough to be submitted to a jury for
their consideration. However, the totality of the circumstances part of
the analysis requires the Court to further consider the context in which
the identification of Wyche took place.
As Wyche argues, he was surrounded by uniformed officers, bathed in the
glow of a police car's emergency lights, and handcuffed at the time of
his show-up identification. Each of these circumstances, individually and
together, are objectionably suggestive and are to be avoided by the
police whenever possible.
The milieu of the show-up in which Wyche was identified provides the
sort of suggestive signals to a witness, possibly falsely indicative of
the suspect's guilt, that precinct house line-ups are designed to avoid.
Line-ups are generally preferred by courts because of the increased
reliability of an identification that offers the witness a choice of
possible suspects, and without the presence of uniformed officers, search
lights and handcuffs guarding, illuminating and restraining a lone
suspect. But line-ups take time to arrange properly. Show-ups, on the
other hand, often possess the benefit of taking place as soon as possible
after the event the witness observed.
In this case, the benefits of the nearly contemporaneous nature of
Wyche's show-up outweigh the disadvantages of the imperfect manner in
which the police displayed Wyche to the witness. The witness' alleged
earlier encounter with Wyche was likely fresh in his mind. And the fact
that Wyche was quite visibly in police custody during the show up, while
regrettable, was probably necessary under the circumstances to prevent
his flight, and it is in any case not dispositive. See, e.g.,
Edwards v. Fischer, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10049 at *13-16 (S.D.N.Y.
Jun. 5, 2002) (finding, under the totality of the circumstances, that the
fact that a suspect was handcuffed during his identification by a witness
did not make that identification unreasonably suggestive).
Wyche's motion to suppress the evidence offered against him of his
identification by a witness, on the basis of this identification having
been conducted in an unduly suggestive manner and in violation of the Due
Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, is DENIED, and evidence
of the witness' identification of Wyche at the motel may be submitted to
a jury pursuant to an in-court identification.
D. Wyche's statement
Wyche moves to suppress his incriminating written statement on the
theories that (1) his statement was the "fruit of the poisonous tree" due
to the warrantless the search of his motel room and his bag, and the lack
of probable cause for his arrest; (2) the statement was given
involuntarily as he was under the influence of mind-altering substances
and was further coerced by threatening behavior on the part of police
detectives, and (3) the statement was elicited after Wyche was denied the
assistance of counsel despite his repeated requests for the same.
1. The Fourth Amendment claim regarding Wyche's statement
Wyche argues that his statement should be suppressed as the fruits of
two poisonous trees, those of the warrantless search of his motel room
and bag, and also of his arrest, which was allegedly illegal as it was
made without probable cause. See generally Wong Sun v. United
States, 371 U.S. 471, 486 (1963). Yet, as discussed supra,
the Court determines that the warrantless search of Wyche's motel room
and bag was legal, and that the evidence obtained therein is admissible.
Further, Wyche's arrest, made pursuant to a reliable witness
identification, was based upon probable cause, and was therefore not
illegal. Wyche's fruits of the poisonous tree
argument is unavailing.
2. Fifth Amendment claims regarding Wyche's statement
Wyche alleged that his statement to Detective Mitchell was involuntary,
as he was drunk, high, and under coercion at the time he made it.
(i) THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
Wyche claims that at the time of his interrogation, he was "under the
influence of cocaine, alcohol and PCP" (and also "very tired"). Detective
Mitchell, who interrogated Wyche, testified at the suppression hearing
that, viewed through the prism of his extensive experience in
interviewing suspects, Wyche did not appear to be under the influence of
alcohol or drugs. See Wyche's Declaration at ¶ 13; Wyche's
Memorandum at 7.
Even assuming that Wyche had taken alcohol or drugs the evening before
his morning interrogation, the fact that he may have done so is not
dispositive. A statement may still be voluntarily given even when the
speaker is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, as there is no
per se rule that a confession given under such circumstances is
involuntary. See, e.g. Avincola v. Stinson, 60 F. Supp.2d 133,
160 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). Without further evidence, Wyche's alleged impairment
will not suffice to suppress his statement on the grounds that he was so
addled as to make that
statement involuntarily given and in violation of the Fifth
(ii) ALLEGED THREATS TO WYCHE'S PARENTS AND PREGNANT GIRLFRIEND
Wyche claims that police officers told him "to continue answering
[pedigree] questions or they would `drag Mom and Pop out of bed'" to
answer the questions for him. Wyche further claims that he "was told
that, unless he told [the detectives] that the guns were his, the police
would charge his pregnant girlfriend . . . with possession of all the
weapons." Wyche's Declaration at (Def. Decl. at ¶¶ 14-15.
The asking of pedigree questions does not implicate Fifth Amendment
concerns. See United States v. Carmona, 873 F.2d 569, 574 (2d
Cir. 1989) (stating that in asking such questions, the "police mean
only to gather ordinary information for administrative purposes);
see also United States v. Pichardo, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14248
at *20 (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 18, 1992) (stating that "pedigree questions . . .
are not subject to Miranda procedures"). Wyche may not
have his incriminating statement suppressed on the grounds that the
answers to his pedigree questions were coerced.
Wyche also alleges that detectives threatened to charge Wyche's
pregnant girlfriend with weapons possession, presumably under N.Y. PENAL
§ 265.01 and not 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). This allegation is also
unavailing as a ground for suppressing Wyche's confession. A threat to a
suspect to charge a third party with a
crime, a crime that the third party is also plausibly guilty of,
does not make that suspect's subsequent confession inadmissible. While it
would have been improper (and unchivalrous) to actually charge the
pregnant woman under the circumstances presented, it was not illegal for
Detective Mitchell or his colleagues to threaten Wyche with their
willingness to do so.
3. Sixth Amendment claim regarding Wyche's statement
Wyche claims to have "asked for an attorney at least fifteen times over
the course of [his] interrogation." Detective Mitchell denies that any
such exchange took place. See Wyche's Memorandum at 8; Wyche's
Declaration at ¶ 14.
Obviously, if Detective Mitchell ignored any such request from Wyche,
in violation of Miranda, Wyche's statement should be
suppressed. However, the only evidence of this self-serving accusation is
the word of Wyche, a convicted felon now facing still further legal
jeopardy. After presiding over and considering the testimony offered in
the suppression hearing, the Court is entitled to value the sworn
statements of a experienced detective, who was subjected to vigorous
cross-examination by an able defense counsel, over the assertion of
Wyche, and it chooses to do so in this case.
Wyche's motion to suppress the testimonial evidence offered against
him, on the bases that his confession was the fruit of the
poisonous tree, that the police coerced this statement from him while he
was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and that the police denied
his requests for the assistance of an attorney, all in violation of the
Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, are DENIED.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the Government has
shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the actions of its
officers were lawful. The uniformed police who responded to a report of a
traffic accident, and who unexpectedly found themselves in a fluid
situation allegedly involving the attempted sale of illegal firearms,
acted reasonably in their search of Wyche's motel room and of his bag
within that room, and also in the show-up identification of Wyche. Their
actions did not violate the Fourth or Fifth Amendments. Neither is there
any credible evidence, beyond the word of a felon, that Detective
Mitchell in any way violated Wyche's Fifth or Sixth Amendment rights at
the Fifth Precinct the following morning.
Wyche's motions to suppress the physical, identification, testimonial
evidence against him are therefore DENIED on all grounds.