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United States v. Woods

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 15, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
Bob L. Woods, Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: June 15, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri-Cape Girardeau

          Before SMITH and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges, and KETCHMARK, [1] District Judge.

          GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.

         Following a jury trial, Bob L. Woods was convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possession of a firearm as a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). Woods appeals, alleging that the district court[2] erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.

         I.

         On April 9, 2014, Sergeant David Austin DeLisle of the Portageville, Missouri Police Department observed Woods and a passenger exit a McDonald's drive-through in a grey Cadillac with heavily tinted windows. Sergeant DeLisle was familiar with Woods. He had received information that Woods was a drug trafficker and that his vehicle contained hidden compartments that he used to hide narcotics. After he saw Woods throw a piece of paper out of his car onto the street, Sergeant DeLisle decided to conduct a traffic stop. The stop occurred at 12:46 p.m.

         Sergeant DeLisle told Woods that he had been stopped because of two potential traffic violations: his windows appeared to be tinted too darkly and he had been observed throwing litter on a public roadway. A test of the vehicle's windows revealed that they were not illegally tinted. During his initial conversation with Woods, Sergeant DeLisle noticed a fake iPhone that he believed-and later confirmed-was actually a set of digital scales. Sergeant DeLisle also detected a faint odor of marijuana. Woods told Sergeant DeLisle that he was traveling to Kennett, Missouri. However, Woods's passenger told another officer that they were going to Memphis, Tennessee.

         Sergeant DeLisle asked Woods if he could search the vehicle, and Woods consented. Sergeant DeLisle then requested a drug-detecting canine; because he suspected that Woods stored illegal items in hidden compartments in his vehicle, DeLisle did not think that he would be able to find any contraband through a routine search without a drug-detecting canine. DeLisle issued citations to Woods for littering and for failing to provide proof of insurance. DeLisle estimated that it took between fifteen and twenty minutes to address the littering, window tint, and insurance issues. After issuing the citations, DeLisle extended the traffic stop to wait for the canine officer to arrive.

         An officer with a drug-detecting canine arrived at the scene at 1:24 p.m., approximately forty minutes after DeLisle initiated the traffic stop. The canine alerted to the presence of narcotics inside the vehicle. At that point, DeLisle decided to impound the vehicle and take Woods to the police station for questioning. Officers searching the impounded vehicle found a compartment underneath the back seat containing marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and a firearm.

         Sergeant DeLisle and another officer interviewed Woods. Before questioning, DeLisle read Woods the Miranda warnings from a form. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 439 (1966). Woods refused to sign part of the form to acknowledge that he was waiving his Miranda rights. However, Woods told the officers that he was willing to speak with them. Woods admitted during the interview that the drugs and firearm belonged to him, not the passenger. Throughout the interview, Woods did not refuse to answer questions, invoke his right to counsel, or tell the officers that he did not want to speak with them any longer.

         Woods was interviewed a second time two days later by federal law-enforcement officers. The officers read Woods his Miranda rights before questioning him. Woods stated that he understood his rights, agreed to speak with the officers, and again claimed that the drugs and firearm found in his vehicle belonged to him.

         After his indictment, Woods filed a motion to suppress the physical evidence and his statements. He argued that he was unlawfully stopped and unlawfully detained. He also argued that the incriminating statements he made during both interviews should be suppressed because he did not waive his Miranda rights. The magistrate judge recommended that Woods's motion be denied. The district court adopted the report and recommendation over Woods's objection and denied the motion to suppress.

         The items of physical evidence seized from the vehicle, as well as the statements Woods made during his interviews, were admitted at Woods's jury trial. The jury found Woods guilty of all three counts of the indictment. The district court sentenced Woods to an aggregate ...


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