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United States v. Eiland

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

July 5, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALEC RAMSEY EILAND, Defendant.

          FINDINGS, RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER

          Cheryl R. Zwart United States Magistrate Judge.

         On November 7, 2018, prior to his arrest, Defendant Alec Ramsey Eiland spoke with law enforcement. He now moves to suppress the statements made and the evidence found on his cell phone, arguing any statements were obtained in violation of Miranda[1] and his statements and any alleged consent to search the cell phone were unknowing, involuntary, and coerced. (Filing No. 24).[2] For the reasons stated below, the motion to suppress should be denied.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         After hearing extensive testimony and reviewing the documentary and audio evidence, the undersigned magistrate judge finds the following facts are credible:

         On November 7, 2018, Special Agent John Hallock interviewed Defendant in the outdoor parking lot of Defendant's apartment complex. (Exhibit 1, Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:47:20, 1:06:40). Special Agents Brandon Day and Jonathan Robitaille were also present. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 1:06:00). The initial exchange between Hallock and Defendant was recorded and lasted approximately three minutes and fifteen seconds.

         During the first recorded exchange, Hallock produced a written rights advisement and explained to the defendant each of the rights enumerated in Miranda. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:47:35). Hallock asked Defendant to read the rights and to sign the form if he was willing to answer questions without a lawyer present. (Exhibit 1, Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:48: 00). Defendant asked several questions regarding his right to an attorney, including “What if I want a lawyer?” (Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:48:15). Hallock responded, “That's up to you, ” adding that this would be a chance for Defendant to tell his side of the story. (Exhibit 1, Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:32:30). After some back and forth, Defendant indicated that he would be more comfortable with his father or a lawyer present because he did not want to incriminate himself. (Exhibit 1, Filing No. 31, audio file 00:50:15). Hallock stated that it was up to Defendant to decide what to do. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:51:55). Defendant stated “I would rather have a lawyer. I'm sorry, guys.” (Id. at 00:52:15). Hallock responded “You don't have to be sorry, sir, that's your right.” (Id. at 1:09:50).

         Hallock began packing up his recording equipment and the agents prepared to leave the parking lot. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 1:02:15). Defendant understood this to be a sign that Hallock was prepared to leave. (Id. at 1:42:45). Hallock advised Defendant that he may have the opportunity to proffer through his defense counsel in the future. (Id. at 00:11:45). As is his practice, Hallock explained that cooperative defendants may receive some kind of consideration compared to uncooperative defendants. (Id.) Defendant understood this advice as indicating that his outcome may be better if he cooperated. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 1:46:50) Defendant reinitiated contact and said something to the effect of “I want to help” or “I want to talk.” (Id. at 00:13:00). Day was present and heard these statements. (Id. at 1:10:30).

         Hallock understood Defendant's statements to mean he was initiating a voluntary conversation about the charges in this case. Hallock unpacked his recording equipment and turned it back on. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:13:30). Hallock then had the following exchange with Defendant:

Hallock: Ok, the second part of the interview with Alec Eiland. Mr. Eiland initially invoked his right to counsel. He has now decided that he wants to come forward and talk with us. Is that correct, Mr. Eiland?
Defendant: It is correct.

(Exhibit 2).

         Hallock asked whether Defendant made the decision to talk on his own behalf, and whether he was coerced into making his decision. Defendant confirmed that it was his decision and that he had not been coerced. (Exhibit 2). Hallock stated that Day and Robitaille were present, as well as task force officer Tony Sattlefield. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 1:06:00). Hallock again provided Defendant a written advisement of his rights and advised Defendant verbally of all Miranda rights. Hallock told Defendant that if he wanted to speak with the agents, he could sign the form which states “I have read this statement of my rights. I understand what my rights are. At this time I am willing to answer questions without a lawyer present.” (Exhibit 2). Defendant signed the form, and Hallock and the other investigators witnessed Defendant's signature.

         Hallock questioned defendant about the cyberstalking activity directed at the victims in this case, and Defendant made certain statements in response. (Exhibit 2, Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:14:50). At the end of the interview, Defendant was placed under arrest. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:59:15).

         Hallock also asked Defendant about his cell phone, and they filled out an FD-26 form, a standard consent form used by the federal bureau of investigation. (Filing No. 31, audio file at 00:15:10). The form includes an advisement that an individual has the right to refuse consent. Defendant ...


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