the Defendant, the police, and his grandmother must be suppressed, having occurred without the benefit of any Miranda warning.
III. Search and Seizure of Defendant's Residence
With respect to the evidence found in Defendant's bedroom at his grandmother's house, the Government concedes that Defendant had standing to raise a Fourth Amendment claim. Although the grandmother, Ms. Morris, was the sole name on the lease, the apartment was Defendant's permanent residence and the bedroom in question was in essence his.
While the record shows that Ms. Morris did consent to the police search, this Court finds that the consent was not freely given. She testified on the stand that she initially refused to grant consent. She claimed that the police responded by telling her that if they had to get a warrant, it would be some time before the premises would be restored to their normal condition and the children permitted to return to their beds. Concerned for the children, one of whom was an honor student who had school early the next morning, and because she "had nothing to hide," she signed the form.
Even if the consent granted by Ms. Morris was in fact voluntary, such consent could not be construed to include Defendant's private bedroom. See United States v. Whitfield, 291 U.S. App. D.C. 243, 939 F.2d 1071 (D.C. Cir. 1991). Ms. Morris testified on the stand that Defendant pays part of the rent for the apartment. The bedroom in question is essentially his, and the expectation is that no other member of the family is to enter without some valid, explicit reason. Defendant had a genuine privacy interest in his own individual bedroom that his grandmother could not waive without his consent.
It is clear that the way the police should have proceeded in the case was to obtain a search warrant. There were no exigent circumstances that required the police to cut corners. On several occasions, this Court has commended police officers for utilizing a procedure for obtaining a search warrant on an expedited basis under facts similar to those in this case. See, e.g. United States v. Carlos Mason, No. 94-240. The way the procedure works is as follows: Once the police officers have secured the premises, a phone call is made to an emergency duty Assistant U.S. Attorney who obtains the facts and proceeds to get a search warrant expeditiously. Of course, if the Assistant U.S. Attorney finds that exigent circumstances exist for a warrantless search, approval for an immediate search can be given.
This Court cannot understand why the police fail to utilize this recognized process. No exigency of circumstances is evident from the record as to why the police chose to bypass this procedure, take shortcuts and proceed as they did. The evidence obtained from the residence on 1401 Half Street, S.W. on the night of August 6, 1997 will be suppressed.
IV. Severance of Counts
As for Defendant's Motion to Sever the Counts of the Indictment, the first part of his motion, to sever the two separate drug counts, is rendered moot by this Court's opinion on the issue above. As for the second part of Defendant's motion, to sever the escape and assault counts from the drug count, this Court finds that these counts all arose from the same set of facts incident to the initial stop and search of Defendant on August 6, 1997. Given the intertwining set of events that lead to both charges, even if this Court were to grant separate trials for each count, the same evidence would surely be alluded to at trial. Thus, this Court denies Defendant's remaining Motion to Sever. An appropriate Order follows.
United States District Judge
For the reasons stated in the opinion above, it is hereby
ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence from the initial stop and search is DENIED ; it is further
ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements made to Police and to his Grandmother while in Custody is hereby GRANTED ; it is further
ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence from the search of Defendant's Residence is hereby GRANTED ; and it is further
ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Sever the Counts of the Indictment is rendered moot as to the two drug counts, and is hereby DENIED with regard to the escape and assault counts.
United States District Judge