141 F.3d 1160 (4th Cir. 1998), 95-5146, U.S. v. Dawson

Docket Nº:95-5146, 95-5342, 95-5152, 95-5187.
Citation:141 F.3d 1160
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Nathaniel DAWSON, Sr., Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Nathaniel DAWSON, Jr., a/k/a Jack Steele, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Sean KIRKLAND, a/k/a Shawn Kemp, a/k/a Seth Webb, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America,
Case Date:April 21, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 1160

141 F.3d 1160 (4th Cir. 1998)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Nathaniel DAWSON, Sr., Defendant-Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Nathaniel DAWSON, Jr., a/k/a Jack Steele, Defendant-Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Sean KIRKLAND, a/k/a Shawn Kemp, a/k/a Seth Webb, Defendant-Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Beverly Lucinda BROWN, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 95-5146, 95-5342, 95-5152, 95-5187.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

April 21, 1998

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA4 Rule 36 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Argued Jan. 31, 1997.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. William M. Nickerson, District Judge. (CR-94-10-WN)

ARGUED: Wesley Marc Serra, BROWN, BERNE & SERRA, New York, New York, for Appellant Dawson, Jr.; Flynn M. Owens, HOWARD CARDIN, P.A., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant Dawson, Sr.; Michael J. Moran, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant Kirkland; Joseph Murtha, IRWIN, GREEN & DEXTER, L.L.P., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant Brown. Christine Manuelian, Assistant United States Attorney, Katharine Jacobs Armentrout, Assistant United States Attorney, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Howard L. Cardin, CARDIN & GITOMER, P.A., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant Dawson, Sr.; David B. Irwin, IRWIN, KERR, GREEN, McDONALD & DEXTER, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant Brown. Lynne A. Battaglia, United States Attorney, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

Before RUSSELL [*] and WILKINS, Circuit Judges, and HERLONG, United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina, sitting by designation.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

Nathaniel Dawson, Jr. (Dawson), Nathaniel Dawson, Sr. (Dawson, Sr.), Sean Kirkland, 1 and Beverly Brown (collectively, "Appellants") appeal their convictions on various charges arising from their participation in a narcotics distribution conspiracy in Baltimore, Maryland. Additionally, Brown appeals the sentence imposed on her by the district court. Finding no error, we affirm.

I.

Beginning in 1991, Dawson was the leader of an organization that distributed cocaine in a neighborhood in Baltimore. Kirkland served as Dawson's chief lieutenant. Brown, Dawson's girlfriend, assisted Dawson in delivering cocaine and firearms to various stash houses near locations where the drugs were sold. Although Kirkland was primarily responsible for overseeing the sellers, Dawson occasionally visited the operation accompanied by his bodyguards, who were armed with firearms provided by Dawson. At the end of each day, Dawson and Kirkland would collect the proceeds and tally the profits at a house Kirkland shared with his girlfriend, Mary Personeus.

On November 4, 1993, Dawson and two bodyguards, Eric Drayton and Kendrick McCray, were observing the sellers when an automobile drove down the street toward them. At Dawson's direction, McCray approached the vehicle and spoke to the occupants, who ignored him and stopped in front of Dawson and Drayton. Words were exchanged and Dawson drew his firearm, prompting Drayton and McCray to do likewise. Drayton and McCray then began firing their weapons, intending to kill the occupants of the vehicle. During the shootout, a stray bullet struck and killed Tauris Johnson, a ten-year-old boy who had been playing football nearby.

The following day, Dawson, Drayton, McCray, and others fled to New York. After obtaining an arrest warrant for Dawson in connection with the murder of Tauris Johnson, Baltimore law enforcement officers requested assistance from a task force in New York composed of federal and state agents. In response to this request, New York City Police Detective Austin Fields, after learning that Dawson was on active parole in New York, obtained an address and phone number for him. Fields telephoned Dawson and, posing as Dawson's new parole officer, informed Dawson that he would be by to see him that afternoon. Fields arrived at Dawson's apartment and gained admission to the premises. After verifying Dawson's identity, Fields arrested him, placed him in handcuffs, and seated him near the front door. Hearing a radio playing in a back room and aware that Dawson was believed to have traveled to New York with others suspected of criminal activity, accompanying officers conducted a protective sweep to determine if any other persons were present. During the sweep, Detective Billy Ralat observed in plain view in one of the bedrooms a triple-beam scale, a lock box, and an empty box of the type used to store firearms. In stooping to look under the bed, Detective Ralat further observed that the mattress was askew on the box spring. Recalling training videos in which suspects had cut holes in box springs and had hidden inside to avoid apprehension, Detective Ralat lifted the mattress and discovered several firearms. These weapons were later seized pursuant to a search warrant; two of them were determined to be weapons employed in the Tauris Johnson shooting.

Dawson was returned to Baltimore in mid-December, indicted on state charges, and incarcerated pending trial. Shortly thereafter, Dawson contacted...

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