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United States v. Lundin

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 26, 2014


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For Eric Eugene Lundin, also known as Whitey, Defendant: Geoffrey A. Hansen, Federal Public Defender, LEAD ATTORNEY, Federal Public Defender, San Francisco, CA.

For USA, Plaintiff: William Frentzen, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, NDCA, Gang Strike Force Unit, San Francisco, CA.

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JON S. TIGAR, United States District Judge.


Defendant Eric Eugene Lundin (" Defendant" or " Lundin" ) is charged with a single

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count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). ECF No. 1. Lundin now moves to suppress evidence and statements obtained by officers of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office (" HCSO" ) and the Arcata Police Department (" APD" ) on April 23 and 24, 2013. Defendant's Motion to Suppress; Request for Evidentiary Hearing (" Motion" ), ECF No. 28. The matter came for hearing May 30, 2014.


A. Factual Background

1. Alleged April 22 Kidnapping and Assault

In response to a report of a kidnapping victim being treated in a hospital's emergency room in Arcata, California, HCSO Deputy Scott Aponte arrived at the hospital at approximately 12:30 a.m. on April 23, 2013 and interviewed Susan Hinds, the reported kidnapping victim. Declaration of Humboldt County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Aponte (" Aponte Decl." ) ¶ 3 (ECF No. 32-2); Exh. A to Declaration of Frederick W. Anderson (" Anderson Decl." ), at C0002 (ECF No. 30-1). According to Hinds, as relayed to Aponte, the following transpired during the evening of April 22, beginning at about 8:00 p.m.. Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0002; Exh. A [1] to Declaration of Geoffrey Hansen (" Hansen Decl." ) at C0093 (ECF No. 29-2).

Hinds was at her home while her son, Joseph Miller, was at the store. Exh. A to Hansen Decl., at C0093. Hinds opened her front door in response to a knock and saw Defendant Eric Lundin, known to Hinds as " Whitey," whom she thought of as a friend and who had served prison time with Miller. Id. at C0094, C0110, C0122. Lundin grabbed Hinds by the neck, pushed his way into the residence, and accused Miller of stealing Lundin's marijuana that he grew in his home. Id. at C0094, 0112. Hinds said " [Lundin] grows pot. I guess he has a card, whatever." Id. at C0113. Lundin mentioned several times that his two daughters had been with him when he was robbed. Id. at C0116, C0122, C0133, C0150 (ECF Nos. 29-3 & 29-4).

While in Hinds' residence, Lundin made Hinds take pills Lundin described as methadone, which he told Hinds would cause her to overdose. Id. at C0095-96, 104-05 (ECF No. 29-2). He also pulled out two handguns from his pockets (a silver one and a larger black one), put one of the guns against Hinds' temple, had her call Miller to tell him to come home, broke Hinds' television by striking it with a gun, and broke Hinds' cellphone by throwing it across the room. Id. at C0101-102, 106.

During this series of events, according to Hinds, Lundin told Hinds multiple times she was going to die and that he " leaves no witnesses." Id. at C0096. Lundin also stated, " You know that's what us Mongols do . . . [w]e leave no witnesses -- none of them." Id. at C0105-06. During her interview with Deputy Aponte, Hinds asked Aponte, " Is the Mongols bad?" to which Deputy Aponte responded, " It's a, uh, motorcycle gang -- kind of like the Hell's Angels. They're like the Hell's Angels' rivals." Id. at C0134 (ECF No. 29-3).

Next, as recounted by Hinds to Deputy Aponte, Lundin forced Hinds into his truck and drove out of the trailer park in which Hinds lived. Id. at C096 (ECF No. 29-2). They passed Miller on their way out, at

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which point Lundin told Hinds to " [w]ave good-bye to your son. You'll never see him again." Id. at C0108. Lundin also ordered Hinds take more of the supposed methadone pills. Id. at C0096. Later, Lundin contacted Miller over the phone and during their conversation, Lundin appeared to change his mind regarding Miller's involvement in the theft of Lundin's marijuana. Id. at C0109-10. Lundin then returned Hinds to her trailer park and explained that he had no intention of killing her but only wanted to scare her. Id. at C0110, 115.

Shortly after concluding his interview with Hinds, Aponte interviewed Miller, who was also present at the hospital. Exh. A to Hansen Decl., at C0147-160 (ECF No. 29-4). Miller stated that " I guess someone went to rob his [Lundin's] house," and that " all . . . [Lundin's] weed's there. He's doing a grow. He's a Mongol." Id. at C0147. Miller described receiving Lundin's call from his truck at about 10:00 p.m. Id. at C0149. Miller reported that Lundin told him he was " going to get his Mongol brothers to get [Miller] and whatever." Id. at C0150.

2. April 23 Search, Seizure and Questioning

Deputy Aponte then " contacted dispatch and requested a BOLO [" Be On the Lookout" ] be issued for Lundin." Aponte Decl. ¶ 6 (ECF No. 34-2); Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0003 (ECF No. 30-1). Deputy Aponte " also requested that . . . [Lundin] be arrested pursuant to Cal. Penal Code § 836 for burglary, false imprisonment, kidnapping, vandalism, brandishing a firearm, administering a drug to commit a felony, administering a controlled substance, and battery." Aponte Decl. ¶ 6; Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0003. " At this time . . . [Deputy Aponte] believe[s] that there was ample probable cause to seek and obtain a warrant for Lundin's arrest." Aponte Decl. ¶ 7. Deputy Aponte appears to have begun preparing an incident report on these events at 2:23 a.m. Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0001.

After receiving the BOLO, APD Officer Matthew O'Donovan drove to Lundin's home. Declaration of Arcata Police Officer Matthew O'Donovan (" O'Donovan Decl." ) ¶ ¶ 3-4 (ECF No. 34-1). Officer O'Donovan observed a vehicle that had been described as Defendant's, and saw that " [t]he lights were on inside the home." Id. ¶ 4. O'Donovan called for backup and was joined by APD Officer Jeremiah Kasinger, APD Sergeant Keith Altizer, and HCSO Deputy Matthew Tomlin. Id. ¶ 5. " At approximately 0354 hours," Officers O'Donovan and Kasinger and Deputy Tomlin approached the front door. Id. ¶ 5. Officer O'Donovan knocked on the door, waited about thirty seconds, and knocked again more loudly. Id. ¶ 6.

After the second knock, Officer O'Donovan and Deputy Tomlin " heard a series of loud crashes coming from the rear of the residence." Id. ¶ 7; see also Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0008 (ECF No. 30-1) (incident report of Deputy Tomlin that " I heard a crashing noise to the rear of the residence." ). The officers " loudly identified [them]selves as police, and shouted for Defendant to put his hands in the air and come out slowly." O'Donovan Decl. ¶ 7; see also Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0008 (incident report of Deputy Tomlin that " I started shouting at whoever was on the back patio to come out with their hands up" ). " The fence surrounding the backyard was tall, but . . . [the officers] could hear Defendant moving around in the backyard." O'Donovan Decl. ¶ 8. " Defendant exited the backyard and was taken into custody by Deputy Tomlin." Id. Deputy Tomlin directed Lundin into a prone position on the ground, placed him into handcuffs, and had him sit in Deputy

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Tomlin's car. Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0008.

Officers O'Donovan and Kasinger then searched the home and the backyard. Id. ¶ 9. " While exiting the home," Officer O'Donovan " noticed a clear plastic freezer bag that contained two firearms -- a black semiautomatic and a silver revolver." Id. ¶ 10. " The handguns were in plain view within arm's reach of the common walkway proceeding from the gate where we entered the backyard." Id. Deputy Tomlin photographed the bag and picked it up, and Deputy Aponte seized the bag when he arrived on the scene. Id. ¶ ¶ 10-11; Aponte Decl. ¶ 9; Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0009.

At the scene, an unidentified officer stated that Lundin is a " retired Mongol." Exh. A to Hansen Decl., at C0163 (ECF No. 29-4). Deputy Aponte asked Lundin " you want to go by Whitey or your, uh -- your regular name?" and Lundin responded " [w]hatever you want to call me." Id. at C0164. Deputy Aponte then read Lundin his Miranda rights, which Lundin invoked. Id. at C0164-65.

3. April 24 Search

On the morning of April 24, HCSO Deputy Todd Fulton prepared an affidavit, statement of probable cause, and warrant application to search Lundin's home, which was signed by Humboldt Superior Court Magistrate Judge Bruce Watson at 8:55 a.m. Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0012; Exh. B to Anderson Decl. (ECF No. 30-4). Deputy Aponte and other officers then executed the warrant and seized numerous items, including guns, cellular phones, a prescription pill bottle for methadone, computers and hard drives, and various Mongol paraphernalia. Aponte Decl. ¶ 12; Exh. A to Anderson Decl., at C0004 (ECF No. 30-1).

Defendant was initially charged with state crimes in Humboldt County, and those charges were later dismissed. Defendant was charged with the current indictment on June 20, 2013.

B. Legal Standards

Defendant's motion to suppress is brought on three grounds: that officers conducted an unreasonable warrantless search on April 23, that officers conducted an unreasonable warranted search on April 24, and that officers obtained statements from Lundin in violation of his Miranda rights on April 24.

1. Warrantless Searches

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. " Searches and seizures that offend the Fourth Amendment are unlawful and evidence obtained as a direct or indirect result of such invasions is considered 'fruit of the poisonous tree' and is inadmissible under the exclusionary rule." United States v. McClendon, 713 F.3d 1211, 1215 (9th Cir. 2013) (citing Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 484-87, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963)). Searches of a person's home are presumably unreasonable without a warrant, and the " burden of proving that a warrantless search or seizure falls within an exception to the warrant requirement is on the government." United States v. Scott, 705 F.3d 410, 416 (9th Cir. 2012).

2. Warranted Search

Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213 103 S.Ct. 2317 United States v. Leon,

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468 U.S. 897, 915, 104 S.Ct. 3405, 82 L.Ed.2d 677 (1984) (internal quotation omitted). The affidavit supporting a search warrant must show a " 'fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime [would] be found in' defendant's home." United States v. Hill, 55 F.3d 479, 480 (9th Cir.1995) (alteration in original) (quoting Gates, 462 U.S. at 238). Even when probable cause is actually lacking, suppression of evidence is not required if the " search [was] conducted in good faith reliance upon an objectively reasonable search warrant." United States v. Crews, 502 F.3d 1130, 1135-36 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Leon, 468 U.S. at 925).

3. Miranda Violations

" '[T]he prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination,' a requirement commonly satisfied by delivery to the defendant of the familiar 'Miranda warnings.'" Dyer v. Hornbeck, 706 F.3d 1134, 1138 (9th Cir. 2013) cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 82, 187 L.Ed.2d 64 (U.S. 2013) (quoting Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966)).


Defendant argues that the evidence seized on April 23 must be suppressed, for two reasons: (1) that the officers' April 23 entrance onto Defendant' porch was an unreasonable search, and so all " fruits" of that search must be suppressed, and (2) that the officers' April 23 search of the Defendant's backyard and house was an unreasonable search, and so the evidence seized during that search must be suppressed. Defendant also argues that deficiencies in the April 24 warrant require suppression of evidence seized on April 24, or at least an evidentiary hearing before that evidence can be admitted. Finally, Defendant argues that statements obtained in violation of Defendant's Miranda rights must also be suppressed. The court addresses each of these arguments in turn.

A. Entrance to Porch

The area " immediately surrounding and associated with the home" -- i.e., the home's curtilage -- is considered part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes. Florida v. Jardines, U.S. , 133 S.Ct. 1409, 1414, 185 L.Ed.2d 495 (2013) (quoting Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 182, 104 S.Ct. 1735, 80 L.Ed.2d 214 (1984)). " The front porch is the classic exemplar" of curtilage. Jardines, 133 S.Ct. at 1415. In its opposition brief, the government " does not dispute that Defendant had a Fourth Amendment interest in the 'curtilage' surrounding his home." Government's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Suppress (" Opp." ) at 6:8-9, ECF No. 34. " Nor does the government ...

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