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UNITED STATES v. DYCE

December 14, 1993

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
AMRHU A. DYCE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY SPORKIN

 This matter is before the Court on defendant's Motion to Suppress Tangible Evidence and Statements. The Court held an initial evidentiary hearing on October 20, 1993 at which government witnesses and the defendant, Amrhu Dyce, testified. Because of conflicting testimony at the initial hearing, the Court held a second hearing on November 22, 1993. For the reasons recited below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

 Testimony from October Hearing

 On the morning of May 6, 1993, Ms. Dyce arrived at the train station in New York City. At the station, Ms. Dyce purchased a one-way ticket on Amtrak train number 81/91 to Raleigh, North Carolina and paid the $ 100.00 purchase price in cash. Ms. Dyce purchased her ticket shortly before the train's scheduled departure time of 9:42 a.m. When the train arrived at Union Station in Washington, D.C. later that day, officers with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") Narcotics Interdiction Unit and Amtrak police officers boarded the train planning to interview the defendant.

 Investigator Thomas Cook of the Amtrak police testified at the suppression hearing that prior to boarding the train the police had not received a tip that defendant was transporting illegal narcotics or that she was breaking any law. Investigator Cook testified that he made the decision to question Ms. Dyce on the basis of information gleaned from Amtrak's reservation system. Mr. Cook detailed his findings in an arrest report he completed on May 7, 1993 and which was entered into evidence at the suppression hearing as government's exhibit 1.

 The May 7, 1993 arrest report refers to similarities Mr. Cook noticed between reservation 95712 in the name of Delores Williams and reservation 95671 in the name of A. Dyce. The reservation for Ms. Williams was made at 11:58 p.m. on May 4, 1993 and showed one way travel to Raleigh, North Carolina in a double slumber coach. The Amtrak reservation system revealed that the Amtrak ticket agent who took the reservation was given a reservation confirmation telephone number of (718) 771-2586. The ticket was picked up on May 6, 1993 at 9:23 a.m. and was paid for in cash in the amount of $ 205.00.

 According to the arrest report, the reservation in the name of A. Dyce was made at 11:53 p.m. on May 4, 1993 and showed one way travel to Raleigh, North Carolina in coach class. The person who made the reservation in Ms. Dyce's name gave a reservation confirmation number of (718) 771-2586. At 9:25 a.m., Ms. Dyce picked up her ticket from the same ticket agent used by Delores Williams and paid for it in cash. In addition to the above similarities, Investigator Cook's observation in the arrest report that defendant and Ms. Williams were travelling from "a source city for narcotics," led him to conclude that they were travelling together and were possibly transporting contraband.

 When the train arrived in Washington, D.C., Cook and the other officers boarded the train armed with a description of Ms. Dyce and Ms. Williams provided by the Amtrak ticket agent in New York. Mr. Cook testified that he and Detective Buss of MPD located Ms. Williams in the lounge car, he identified himself to her as a police officer, and asked her to produce some identification. Ms. Williams stated, in response to questions by Mr. Cook, that she was not carrying illegal narcotics. She consented to a search of her person and her luggage and the searches produced no illegal narcotics. Mr. Cook stated in his arrest report that Ms. Williams denied knowing anyone named Dyce and maintained that she was travelling alone. He testified that Ms. Williams did not supply him with any information connecting her to the defendant or connecting the defendant to any illegal drugs.

 Investigator Cook testified that following his questioning of Ms. Williams he proceeded to the coach car of the train carrying passengers bound for Raleigh. He stated the he was wearing plain clothes and carrying a gun, but the gun was concealed by his jacket. He approached a woman matching the description of Amrhu Dyce and identified himself as a police officer, showed her his badge and asked to see her train ticket. According to Mr. Cook, Ms. Dyce stood up to retrieve a tote bag from the overhead luggage rack, removed her ticket from the bag and showed it to him. Cook testified that the defendant agreed to talk to him. He asserts that he asked Ms. Dyce for some identification and she showed him her alien registration card. In response to his questions she responded that she was not travelling with anyone, was employed as a property manager in New York, and would only be in Raleigh for the weekend.

 Investigator Cook stated that he explained to Ms. Dyce that trains are often used to transport contraband and asked her if she was carrying explosives, weapons or narcotics. She replied, "No." Cook stated that he asked Ms. Dyce if he could examine her bag and search it. He stated that Ms. Dyce consented to the search but he could not remember the exact words she used. In response to the Court's question, however, Cook stated that she used words to the effect of "yes, go ahead." Mr. Cook denies threatening defendant or coercing her in any way.

 Mr. Cook recalls Detective William Buss standing approximately two rows of seats behind Ms. Dyce and that Buss did not say anything to Ms. Dyce. He cannot recall whether Detective Buss, from where he stood, could have overheard what was said between himself and defendant. He stated that prior to the search, no officer spoke to defendant, touched her, or displayed anything identifying them as police officers.

 Cook's search of Ms. Dyce's bag produced a brown paper bag wrapped in a white tee shirt. Inside the paper bag he found three plastic bags containing what was later found to be approximately 197 grams of crack cocaine.

 Cook testified on cross examination that when he approached Ms. Dyce in the coach car she appeared to be awake and did not seem to be guarding her tote bag. Nor was she acting suspiciously. Cook concedes that he did not inform her of her right to refuse to answer questions, to refuse to submit to searches, and her right to stop answering questions. Neither did he inform her of her right to restrict the scope of the searches.

 Officer Maria Pena of the MPD also testified on behalf of the government at the suppression hearing. Officer Pena is a six year veteran of the MPD and has spent one and a half years on its interdiction unit. She testified that after Investigator Cook indicated that he had found illegal narcotics in Ms. Dyce's bag, Dyce was arrested, handcuffed, and escorted off the train. Pena recalls that while on the station platform, Officer Larry Coates orally advised defendant of her Miranda rights and asked her if she understood those rights. Officer Pena stated that defendant replied that she did understand her rights.

 In the course of her search of defendant, Pena discovered in defendant's shirt pocket a piece of a train ticket bearing the number and letter corresponding to a car and seat on the train. Detectives recognized it as the location of Ms. Williams' seat, and re-boarded the train. Pena stated that Ms. Dyce then made two voluntary statements to her on the platform. Ms. Dyce first stated, "I should not have told on my girlfriend." Then Ms. Dyce asked Pena "If I say those are my drugs, will you let my girlfriend go?".

 On cross examination, Officer Pena stated that she remembered hearing Detective Larry Coates ask Ms. Dyce whether she understood her rights but as she was occupied with other matters at the time she did not hear exactly what he said. Officer Pena never asked Ms. Dyce whether she was waiving those rights nor did she inform Ms. Dyce that she had a right to an attorney. While in transit to the police station, Ms. Dyce is alleged to have made other incriminatory statements.

 Officer Pena read Ms. Dyce her rights in the police station and obtained Ms. Dyce's signature on form PD-47, an advice of rights card. On the PD-47, Ms. Dyce indicated that she had been read her rights and understood them, she did not wish to answer any questions and would not answer questions without a lawyer present. The PD-47 is signed by Maria Pena and dated May 6, 1993 but the time it was completed is not recorded.


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