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United States v. Williams

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 5, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Henry Lee Williams, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted: November 14, 2014.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Justin G. Davids, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Kansas City, MO.

For Henry Lee Williams, Defendant - Appellant: Anita L. Burns, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Public Defender's Office, Kansas City, MO.

Henry Lee Williams, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Lansing, KS.

Before BYE, SHEPHERD, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Henry Williams was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count I); possessing a stolen firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j) (Count II); and stealing a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer

Page 1014

in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(u) (Count III). Williams moved to suppress the AK-47 rifle seized during a warrantless search of his vehicle. After the district court[1] denied his motion to suppress, Williams entered a conditional guilty plea to Counts I and III of the Indictment and was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. Pursuant to his conditional plea agreement, Williams appeals the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

I. Background

On December 19, 2012, Officer Alan Loftis of the Raytown, Missouri, Police Department received a report of a theft at Game Stop, an electronics retailer. Being less than a block away, he responded immediately to the call. As he was pulling into the parking lot of the store, there were two people pointing at a dark-colored Cadillac. Officer Loftis pursued the car, which did not stop until the siren of the patrol car had been activated. During the pursuit, radio dispatch informed Officer Loftis that the suspect was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jacket and had stolen an iPad wrapped in bubble wrap.

Officer Loftis pulled the Cadillac over to the side of the street and when he approached the car, he noticed that the driver was wearing a Steelers jacket. The driver, Williams, initially refused to exit the car and asked why he had been stopped. A second officer arrived at the scene, and together they again asked Williams to get out of his vehicle. Williams eventually obeyed and locked the doors behind him after exiting.

In response to questioning, Williams denied any knowledge of, or involvement in, the Game Stop theft, though he admitted he had recently been at the store. The rear driver's side window of the car was partially down, and Officer Loftis looked into the car using a flashlight. He noticed some bubble wrap sticking out in the console area between the two front seats. After unlocking the car ...


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