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United States v. Brimager

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 21, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN KARL BRIMAGER, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REVOKE DETENTION

JEFFREY T. MILLER, District Judge.

Before the court is Defendant Brian Karl Brimager's October 14, 2014 motion to revoke the pretrial detention order entered by Magistrate Judge Gallo in June 2013. (Doc. No. 45.) As set forth below, the court denies the motion on grounds that Defendant is a flight risk and a danger to the community and that no condition or combination of conditions of release can reasonably assure his continued appearance in this matter or the safety of the community.

BACKGROUND

On June 26, 2013, a federal grand jury returned the original indictment in this case. (Doc. No. 1.) On June 28, 2013, Magistrate Judge Gallo held a detention hearing and ordered Defendant detained pending trial. (Doc. No. 7; Transcript, Doc. No. 45, Exh. E.) On July 3, 2013, Judge Gallo entered a written detention order. (Doc. No. 11.)

A. The Superseding Indictment[1]

On January 29, 2014, a federal grand jury returned the operative superseding indictment. (Doc. No. 28.) The 13-count indictment charged Defendant with (1) obstruction of justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) (Counts 1 through 10); (2) making a false statement to a federal officer, 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (Count 11); and (3) falsification of records, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1519 (Counts 12 and 13). (Id.)

The indictment contained the following allegations: In 2009, Defendant and Yvonne Baldelli began a romantic relationship. (Id. ¶ 1.) On September 26, 2011, Defendant and Baldelli flew from California to Bocas Del Toro, Panama ("Bocas"). (Id. ¶ 2.) Baldelli brought along her two high-quality sewing machines, her King Charles Spaniel, and her white Sony VAIO laptop computer. (Id.) After their arrival in Panama, the pair traveled to an island near Bocas called Isla Caranero and rented a room in a hostel there. (Id. ¶¶ 3-4.) Their room was next to the hostel manager's unit. (Id. ¶ 4.)

Shortly after their arrival in Panama, Defendant began e-mailing K.W., with whom he had young daughter. (Id. ¶ 5.) The e-mails, which did not mention Baldelli, discussed plans to move back to California with K.W. and help raise their daughter. (Id.) Beginning around mid-October, Defendant began fighting with Baldelli. (Id. ¶ 6.) The altercations resulted in yelling and loud noises in the couple's room, and Defendant struck Baldelli, causing bruising around her eyes and on her arms. (Id.)

In November 2011, Defendant sent a series of e-mails to K.W., his mother, and a friend from the Marine Corps indicating that he was bored with his life in Panama and was planning to return to California. (Id. ¶ 7.) The e-mails did not mention Baldelli. (Id.) On November 24, 2011, the hostel manager broke her leg and left the hostel to be treated in a hospital in another town. (Id. ¶ 8.)

On the evening of November 26, 2011, Defendant and Baldelli went to a bar and restaurant in Bocas called Carlos' steakhouse, and afterward left the bar together. (Id. ¶ 9.) That night, or early the next morning, Defendant killed Baldelli, dismembered her body, and disposed of her body parts in a remote wooded area on the island. (Id. ¶ 10.)

At about 10:30 the next morning, Defendant used Baldelli's Sony VAIO laptop to conduct two searches, one for "washing mattress" and another for "washing mattress blood stain." (Id. ¶ 14.) After Defendant could not clean the mattress, he bought a new one and told the hostel manager that he had thrown the old one in the ocean because his dog had urinated on it. (Id.) Later that day he traveled to Bocas and withdrew money from Baldelli's bank accounts to make it appear that she had traveled through Bocas on her way to Costa Rica. (Id. ¶ 15.) For the next two days, Defendant disposed of physical evidence of the crime, including putting Baldelli's personal items in 10 large trash bags and putting them on the hostel's dock for disposal. (Id. at 16.) The bags contained, among other things, Baldelli's clothing, cosmetics, and jewelry. (Id.)

On November 29, 2011, Defendant accessed Baldelli's personal e-mail account. (Id. ¶ 17.) At about 9:15 a.m, posing as Baldelli, he sent an e-mail to Baldelli's sister, M.V., stating that Baldelli had broken up with Defendant and was headed to Costa Rica with a man named Tony Gonzales. (Id.) At around 9:35 a.m., Defendant sent two e-mails from Baldelli's account to the manager of the hostel stating that Baldelli had already arrived in Costa Rica and wanted to give the manager Baldelli's two high-end sewing machines. (Id. ¶ 18.) That afternoon Defendant sent an e-mail from his own account to Baldelli's pretending that he thought she had left Panama. (Id. at 19.)

On December 10, 2011, Defendant flew back to the United States with a layover in Costa Rica. (Id. ¶ 20.) On December 11, while still on layover in Costa Rica, he posed as Baldelli and sent an e-mail from her account to one of her friends, stating that she was traveling in Costa Rica and "having a great time." (Id.) Later that afternoon, while still in Costa Rica, Defendant conducted an Internet search on Baldelli's Sony VAIO laptop for "Festival De La Luz." (Id. ¶ 21.) He then composed, but did not send, an e-mail from Baldelli's account to M.V. stating that Baldelli and Tony Gonzalez were having fun at the Festival De La Luz in San Jose, Costa Rica, and were planning to return to the United States in January 2012. (Id.) That afternoon Defendant visited an ATM and withdrew $200 from Baldelli's bank account to make it appear that she was alive and living in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Id. ¶ 22.)

The next day, December 12, 2011, at about 6:20 p.m., Defendant checked Baldelli's e-mail account while on a layover in Atlanta, Georgia. (Id. ¶ 23.) That night he landed in San Diego and was picked up at the airport by K.W. (Id. ¶ 24.) He proposed to K.W. two days later, and they married shortly thereafter. (Id.)

On December 13, 2011, Defendant sent an e-mail from his e-mail account to Baldelli's sister, M.V., stating that he would like to make arrangements to pick up his truck, which was parked at her house. (Id. ¶ 25.) On December 19, 2011, Defendant sent her a text following up on his request to pick up his truck. (Id. ¶ 26.) Later that day M.V. spoke to Defendant about filing a missing-persons report on Baldelli, but Defendant told her that he would first try to have Baldelli contact her. (Id.)

On December 20, 2011, at about 5:30 p.m., Defendant sent an e-mail from his account to Baldelli's account pretending she was alive and asking her to contact her sister. (Id. ¶ 27.) He copied M.V. on the e-mail. (Id.) About 30 minutes later, Defendant composed and sent an e-mail from Baldelli's account to M.V. indicating that Baldelli was fine and "missed talking to mom." (Id. ¶ 28.) The e-mail included the text from Defendant's earlier, unsent e-mail about the Festival De La Luz. (Id.)

On December 26, 2011, Defendant, again pretending to be Baldelli, composed and sent an e-mail from Baldelli's account to M.V. stating that Baldelli was "starting to get a little homesick" and hoped to return home in the second week of January 2012. (Id. ¶ 30.)

On March 21, 2012, Defendant was interviewed by FBI agents and stated that Baldelli left Panama for Costa Rica on November 27, 2011; that she took her Sony VAIO laptop with her when she left; that the Sony VAIO laptop he possessed on March 21, 2012, had never been in Panama; that before Baldelli left Panama he had not been planning to return to the United States; that he had never struck her; and that he had never accessed her e-mail account or sent e-mails purporting to be from her. (Id. ¶ 31.)

B. Defendant's Motion

On October 14, 2014, Defendant filed the instant motion to revoke his detention. (Doc. No. 45.) The motion states that Defendant's wife and in-laws are willing to pledge their homes as collateral for a $300, 000 bond and that Defendant is willing to submit to GPS monitoring and any other conditions of release. (Id. at 2-3.) It also asserts that Defendant served honorably in the United States Marine Corps for eight years and never disobeyed a lawful order. (Id. at 2.) His young son and mother both have serious health conditions, and the loss of his income from the G.I. Bill (which is not paid while he is in custody) and the added cost of childcare have been hard on his family. (Id. at 3.) Further, he asserts, detention is ...


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