218 F.3d 684 (7th Cir. 2000), 99-1648, United States v. Ledford

Docket Nº:99-1648, 99-1922
Citation:218 F.3d 684
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Carl L. LEDFORD and Shane A. Thomas, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:June 27, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 684

218 F.3d 684 (7th Cir. 2000)



Carl L. LEDFORD and Shane A. Thomas, Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 99-1648, 99-1922

In the United States Court of Appeals, For the Seventh Circuit

June 27, 2000

Argued October 25, 1999

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. No. 97 CR 31--William C. Lee, Chief Judge.

Page 685

Before EASTERBROOK, MANION, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

ROVNER, Circuit Judge.

Carl Ledford and Shane Thomas robbed a bank in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Both men were armed, and in the course of the robbery, Thomas injured both a customer and a bank employee with his handgun. Based upon a bystander's 911 call, the authorities were able to stop the men's car as they attempted to make a getaway. A brief inspection of the automobile trunk revealed a firearm, a bag full of cash, and other incriminating evidence. A jury later convicted them of committing bank robbery by force and violence, or by intimidation, 18 U.S.C. sec. 2113(a), and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, 18 U.S.C. sec. 924(c). In calculating the sentencing range for each defendant, the district court found that they had inflicted bodily injuries in the course of the robbery, and that their offense levels should be adjusted accordingly. See U.S.S.G. sec. 2B3.1(b)(3)(A) (1998). Ledford and Thomas now challenge both their convictions and sentences, arguing that the district court should have suppressed the evidence discovered in the warrantless inspection of the car trunk and that in passing sentence the court improperly held them responsible for inflicting injuries on the bank patron and employee. We affirm.


In the early afternoon of November 17, 1997, Ledford and Thomas backed a car up to the entrance of the Standard Federal Bank in the Waynedale section of Fort Wayne and walked into the bank. Both men carried handguns. Both were dressed in dark clothing and had covered their faces, one with a white hockey mask and the other with a black stocking cap and blue head covering with eye holes cut into it.

Page 686

Upon entering the bank, they shouted at everyone to get down on the floor. Thomas struck one of the patrons, Donald McAfee, in the chest with his forearm, fist, and gun. McAfee suffered a contusion on his chest, and he was later hospitalized for examination when he complained of chest pains. Thomas subsequently took savings counselor Kamie Arnold with him to the bank vault and, after ordering her to open it, pressed his gun into the small of her back and pushed her into the jamb of the vault door. That shove resulted in bruises to Arnold's hand, arm, and her upper body. Arnold was unable to access the cash in the vault, however, prompting Thomas to assault her twice more with the gun: once he placed it against her head, threatening to kill her, and a second time he shoved the gun into her ribs, demanding more money. Thomas finally let Arnold be after bank teller Marjorie Creager screamed at him that the vault was inaccessible. In the end, Ledford and Thomas managed only to steal the money that was stored in the tellers' drawers.

Ledford and Thomas left the bank with $6,000 to $7,000 in cash, including some bait bills ($10 bills whose serial numbers were recorded by the bank). But their ill-gotten prosperity proved to be short-lived.

Car salesman Mark Sieger was sitting in his car watching the bank when the defendants emerged. His suspicions had been aroused moments earlier when the defendants cut him off at a traffic light near the bank, almost hitting him. (As the car passed him, he noticed that one of the two occupants had braided hair.) Sieger had pulled his car over when he saw the men back their car up to the bank entrance and enter the bank, leaving the car doors open. He noticed one of the defendants put something over his head as they walked into the bank. By the time Thomas and Ledford returned to their car, Sieger had already dialed 911 on his cell phone to report his suspicion that a robbery was underway. He saw that one of the men was carrying a bag, the other a gun. As the defendants proceeded to flee the scene in their car, Sieger followed them in his own vehicle. Moments later he saw the defendants pull into the parking lot of an apartment complex, access the trunk of a beige- or champagne-colored Cadillac Seville, and then continue their flight in the Cadillac. He reported this to the 911 dispatcher, with whom he had remained on the line, and resumed pursuit. Sieger lost sight of the Cadillac briefly during the chase, but subsequently re-acquired it. (He recognized the car by its damaged driver's-side door.)

Meanwhile, the police had been apprised over the radio of what Sieger had observed. Detective Mack Page of the Fort Wayne Police Department spotted the Cadillac and pulled his vehicle behind it. Page activated his emergency lights and siren. Sieger subsequently reported to the 911 dispatcher that a police car had pulled in between his own car and the Cadillac he was following. This information was in turn broadcast by the police dispatcher, and Page heard the report. At this point, the Cadillac was stopped for a red traffic right. After Fort Wayne police officer Darryl Caudill and Indiana State Trooper Daniel Taylor pulled up and joined Page, the three officers stepped out of their cars, pointed their guns at the Cadillac, and ordered the occupants out of the vehicle. This took place eight minutes after the robbery occurred.

One at a time, Ledford and Thomas stepped out of the Seville with their arms raised. Page took custody of a gun that was tucked into Thomas' belt. The police placed the defendants under arrest, handcuffed them, and placed them in police cars. Sieger subsequently identified Ledford and Thomas as the two men he had seen leaving the bank. He made that identification based on their clothes and Thomas' braided hair.

With Thomas and Ledford in custody, the officers shifted their attention to the Cadillac. Purportedly for their own safety and to confirm that there was neither an

Page 687

additional suspect nor a hostage in the trunk of the car, the officers decided to inspect it. Fort Wayne police...

To continue reading