United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. Rossiter, Jr. United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on defendant Idelfonso
Tapia-Rodriguez's (“Tapia-Rodriguez”) Motion
to Suppress Evidence (Filing No. 39) and Motion to Sever
(Filing No. 41). The magistrate judge issued a Findings and
Recommendation (Filing No. 81) recommending the Court deny
both motions. The magistrate judge concluded (1)
Tapia-Rodriguez “was not subject to custodial
interrogation, ” and (2) redacting codefendant Jose
post-arrest statement to remove any reference to his
roommate's drug distribution would sufficiently address
the confrontation-clause issue raised in
Tapia-Rodriguez's severance motion. See Bruton v.
United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968); Richardson v.
Marsh, 481 U.S. 200 (1987). Tapia-Rodriguez objects
(Filing No. 83) to the recommendation that his suppression
motion be denied and to the scope of the recommended
redaction. Tapia-Rodriguez's objections are sustained in
part and overruled in part as discussed below.
September 26, 2017, a cooperating witness arranged for a
delivery of methamphetamine from her supplier in Mexico. When
Rodolfo-Chaidez arrived with the drugs, Omaha Police
Department Sergeant Brian Heath (“Sergeant
Heath”), a twenty-three-year veteran of the force,
arrested him for possession of methamphetamine with intent to
deliver and took him to the police station for questioning.
After waiving his rights and agreeing to answer questions,
see Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 479 (1966),
Rodolfo-Chaidez told Sergeant Heath and another officer his
home address, that he had more drugs and money there, and
that his roommate (later identified as Tapia-Rodriguez) was
somehow involved in the drug trade. Rodolfo-Chaidez also told
the officers that his bedroom was in the southwest corner of
the two-bedroom house.
Heath obtained Rodolfo-Chaidez's written consent to
search his residence, including his bedroom. Then, Sergeant
Heath and nine or ten other officers went to
Rodolfo-Chaidez's house to perform a search. With a key
from Rodolfo-Chaidez, who was there in handcuffs, Sergeant
Heath opened the door. He and the other officers quickly
entered the house with weapons drawn, loudly announcing their
presence. Upon entering the house, the officers encountered
Tapia-Rodriguez on the couch in the living room watching
television. They immediately put him in handcuffs and
performed a protective sweep of the house. Although officers
observed some methamphetamine in the kitchen, they did not
see any visible contraband in either bedroom during the
of the officers began to search the house, Sergeant Heath and
another officer spoke with Tapia-Rodriguez without giving any
Miranda warnings. They told him why they were there
and asked his name, whether he lived in the house, and which
bedroom was his. Sergeant Heath testified
Rodolfo-Chaidez's statements about his roommate alerted
Sergeant Heath that officers would not be able to search one
of the rooms without speaking to the occupant of that room.
According to Sergeant Heath, he asked Tapia-Rodriguez which
bedroom was his so the officers could obtain permission to
search it. On cross-examination, Sergeant Heath, an
experienced narcotics officer, acknowledged the evidentiary
importance of associating a suspect in a drug case with a
particular residence or bedroom where contraband is found.
asked, Tapia-Rodriguez indicated the northwest bedroom was
his and gave officers written permission to search it,
signing the same consent form Rodolfo-Chaidez signed. An
officer soon discovered several pounds of suspected
methamphetamine in a shoebox in Tapia-Rodriguez's closet.
The officers then brought Tapia-Rodriguez-still handcuffed-to
the bedroom to interview him as he sat on the bed. Sergeant
Heath again asked Tapia-Rodriguez his name, where he was
from, and how long he had been living at the house. After
Tapia-Rodriguez answered, Sergeant Heath gave him
Miranda warnings. Tapia-Rodriguez declined to speak
with the officers further and the questions stopped.
Tapia-Rodriguez was arrested and charged with conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and possession with intent
to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1).
November 14, 2017, Tapia-Rodriguez moved to dismiss
“all evidence derived from” his custodial
statements to the police. As relevant here, Tapia-Rodriguez also
“move[d] that his trial . . . be severed from that of
Defendant Rodolfo-Chaidez on Bruton grounds.”
The magistrate concluded neither motion had merit, deciding
Tapia-Rodriguez “was not subject to custodial
interrogation” and finding any Bruton issue
could be remedied by “[r]edacting Rodolfo-Chaidez's
post-arrest statement to eliminate any mention of his
roommate's involvement in drug distribution.”
Tapia-Rodriguez objects to those conclusions.
Standards of Review
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court may designate a
magistrate judge to conduct an evidentiary hearing and submit
“proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the
disposition” of a motion to suppress. The Court then
must “make a de novo determination of those portions of
the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations
to which objection is made.” Id. “The
district judge may accept, reject, or modify the
recommendation, receive further evidence, or resubmit the
matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.
R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3).
636(b)(1)(A) authorizes the district court to
“designate a magistrate judge to hear and
determine” a pretrial motion to sever. The Court may
reconsider such a matter “where it has been shown that
the magistrate judge's order is clearly erroneous or
contrary to law.” Id.; see also Ferguson
v. United States, 484 F.3d 1068, 1076 (8th Cir. 2007).
Motion to Suppress, Tapia-Rodriguez broadly moves to suppress
“all evidence derived from” and “obtained
as a result of custodial interrogations by Omaha police
officers on or about September 26, 2017.” In his brief
and objections, Tapia-Rodriguez more narrowly requests that
the Court suppress his statements ...