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United States v. Martin

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

October 18, 2019

HARREL D. MARTIN, Defendant.


          J.P. Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.

         1. INTRODUCTION

         On April 23, 2019, the defendant, Harrel D. Martin (“Martin”), was indicted on charges of possessing firearms as a convicted felon, possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, and possessing firearms in furtherance of the marijuana-trafficking offense. (Docket #1). On June 7, 2019, Martin filed a motion to suppress physical evidence and his post-arrest statements. (Docket #9).

         On August 16, 2019, Magistrate Judge David E. Jones held an evidentiary hearing on the suppression motion, at which two witnesses testified. (Docket #28, #34). On September 10, 2019, the motion was transferred to Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph due to the unavailability of Magistrate Judge Jones. On October 7, 2019, Magistrate Judge Joseph issued a report and recommendation (the “Report”), recommending that this Court deny Martin's suppression motion. (Docket #36). Martin objected to the Report, (Docket #37), and the government responded to the objection, (Docket #38). For the reasons explained below, the Court will overrule Martin's objection, adopt the Report, and deny Martin's suppression motion.


         When reviewing a magistrate judge's recommendation, the Court is obliged to analyze the recommendation de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Thus, the Court can “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate.” Id. In other words, the Court's de novo review of Magistrate Judge Joseph's findings and recommendations is not limited to her legal analysis alone; rather, the Court may also review her factual findings, and accept, reject, or modify those findings as it sees fit based upon the evidence. Id.

         3. RELEVANT FACTS

         In her Report, Magistrate Judge Joseph carefully described all of the facts material to Martin's motion. (Docket #36 at 2-7). Martin does not object to the Report's factual recitation, see generally (Docket #37), and the Court has no independent reason to disagree with the facts as Magistrate Judge Joseph found them. The Court will, therefore, adopt the facts as stated in the Report. In the interest of thoroughness, the Court will reproduce Magistrate Judge Joseph's factual recitation here. (Docket #36 at 2-7).

         Milwaukee Police Officer Andrew Langer and Winetta Gill testified at the August 16, 2019 hearing.

         Officer Andrew Langer

         Andrew Langer has been an officer with the Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) for about four-and-a- half years. (Docket #34 at 5-6). At the time of the evidentiary hearing, he was assigned to MPD District 7, working the early shift from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a. m. Id. at 5-7. Langer was performing general patrol on the night of January 11, 2019, when he and his partner, Officer Robert Guetchidjian, received a call requesting assistance with an investigation. Id. at 7-8. Fellow MPD Police Officers Gaglione and Kotnik indicated that an individual named Harrel Martin had fled from them in an Infiniti and that they had observed a gun and drugs inside the vehicle. Id. at 8-9. They asked Langer and Guetchidjian to help locate Martin and the Infiniti. Id.

         After checking one address, Langer and Guetchidjian met Gaglione and Kotnik and Sergeant Michael Hansen at a duplex located on North 91st Street. Id. at 9-10. Langer described the residence as an upper and lower duplex, with its front entrance-including a bay window-facing 91st Street and a side entrance on the residence's northwest corner. Id. at 10, 14- 15, 19; see Hearing Exhibit C. The front of the duplex had a balcony for the upper flat. (Docket #34 at 10). There was also a wooden fence that ran from the northwest corner of the residence, which separated the front yard from the side entrance and back yard. Id. at 15, 40-41. After locating the Infiniti parked at the rear of the residence, the police set up containment around the duplex. Id. at 11, 61; see Hearing Exhibit C.

         Once containment was established, Langer knocked on the front door of the lower flat with his baton. (Docket #34 at 12-13, 43). The tenant of the upper flat, Jasmine McNeil, came out onto her balcony, stated that she was putting her child to sleep, and asked-calmly but with slight agitation-why the police were there. Id. at 12-13, 43, 58-59; see Hearing Exhibit C. Langer explained that they were looking for someone and asked McNeil whether she had ever seen the Infiniti parked out back. (Docket #34 at 12). McNeil indicated that she had seen the Infiniti there a few times. Id. She then went back inside her residence. Id.

         With McNeil back inside, Langer resumed knocking on the lower flat's front door. Id. at 13-14. Langer testified on cross-examination that a squad car drove onto the property and shined its lights at the bay window. Id. at 41-42, 69-70; see Hearing Exhibit C. On re-direct, he said he did not recall a squad being on the lawn. (Docket #34 at 73). Regardless, Langer acknowledged that Hansen stood about five to eight feet from the residence, looked through a two-inch gap in the window's blinds, and observed a male walking around in ...

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