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United States v. Whiteside

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 1, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
SAMUEL WHITESIDE, a/k/a

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. CROTTY, District Judge.

Defendant Samuel Whiteside is charged in a two-count superseding indictment with traveling in interstate commerce with the intent to commit a crime of violence, namely the murder of Anthony Martino, to further an unlawful activity, namely prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1952(a)(2) and (a)(3)(B); and with causing other individuals to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2422(a).

On November 29, 2013, Defendant moved to (1) suppress the warrantless search of a Mercedes automobile and digital camera found in the car; (2) suppress an out-of-court identification; and (3) compel further discovery.[1] The Court DENIES Defendant's motion to suppress the search of the Mercedes, without prejudice to its renewal; asks for further briefing regarding the digital camera; and DENIES Defendant's remaining motions.

BACKGROUND

On June 4, 2012, Defendant had a series of phone conversations with the victim, Anthony Martino. Defendant and Martino were allegedly disputing the sale of a prostitute by Defendant to Martino for $1, 500 to $2, 000. Compl. ¶ 3. Martino allegedly challenged Defendant to travel from Massachusetts to Room 18 of the Metro Motel in the Bronx, and settle the dispute in person. Later that night, Defendant allegedly travelled to the motel, confronted Martino in person, and fatally stabbed him.

On August 23, 2012, Witness 1, who knew Defendant, correctly identified Defendant in a photo array ("Array 1"). Gov't Opp'n 4. Witness 3, who was allegedly with Martino in Room 18, was also shown Array 1, but was unable to identify Defendant. Id. Several months later, Witness 3 was shown a different array ("Array 2"), but was still unable to identify Defendant. Id. On January 24, 2013, Witness 2 was shown Array 2 and identified Defendant as the individual he saw leaving Room 18 covered in blood on the night of the stabbing. Id.

On December 4, 2012, police in Thomasville, North Carolina, attempted to pull over Defendant while he was driving a Mercedes, which had Illinois license plates. Downs Decl. ¶ 2. Instead of pulling over, Defendant sped away, leading police to issue a "be on the look-out" alert for the Mercedes. Id. Later that day, police located the Mercedes in a business park. Id. As Defendant was leaving a nearby diner with three women, two of the women went to retrieve the Mercedes and bring it to him. Whiteside Aff. ¶¶ 3-4. When the women arrived at the Mercedes, the police detained them and began searching the car without a warrant. Carvlin Decl. ¶¶ 21-22. Police then located Defendant in a nearby shoe store, arrested him for eluding arrest and for traffic violations, and transported him, and the woman he was with, back to the Mercedes in handcuffs. Whiteside Aff. ¶¶ 6-9. The warrantless search of the Mercedes uncovered drug paraphernalia, a knife, a handgun holster, and a digital camera. Carvlin Decl. ¶ 22. Subsequently, police brought the digital camera back to the station, removed its memory card, and accessed its files on their computer. Id. at ¶ 23. The memory card contained numerous sexually explicit photos and several photos of Defendant with a gun. Id. at ¶ 24.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendant's Motion To Suppress Evidence Discovered from the Warrantless Search of the Mercedes and Digital Camera

A. The Warrantless Search of the Mercedes

Defendant seeks to suppress evidence recovered from the warrantless search of the Mercedes in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Prior to the Court's consideration of Defendant's Fourth Amendment argument, Defendant must demonstrate a legitimate expectation of privacy in the Mercedes. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128 (1978) (ruling that a defendant has "standing" to bring a Fourth Amendment claim only when he has a legitimate expectation of privacy in the area that was searched). Defendant claims to own the Mercedes and argues that his Fourth Amendment rights stem from his ownership. Whiteside Aff. ¶¶ 3, 11.

The Government has produced the vehicle's registration in Illinois which shows "Terrell Owens" of Rockford, Illinois as the Mercedes's owner. Downs Decl. ¶ 3. Since Defendant has not produced any documentary proof of ownership or leasing, nor has he asserted any other type of lawful possession or license or permission to use, the Court must deny the application to suppress, without prejudice to its renewal, if accompanied by proof or evidence of some indicia of lawful possession. See U.S. v. Sanchez, 635 F.2d 47, 64 (2d Cir. 1980) (denying a suppression motion because the defendant "demonstrated neither ownership of the [car], nor license from the owner to possess the [car]"). Defendant's failure ...


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