349 F.3d 781 (4th Cir. 2003), 02-4664, U.S. v. Hylton

Docket Nº:02-4664
Citation:349 F.3d 781
Party Name:U.S. v. Hylton
Case Date:November 19, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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349 F.3d 781 (4th Cir. 2003)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Kenzie HYLTON, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 02-4664.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 19, 2003

Argued: Sept. 26, 2003.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Kelli Colleen McTaggart, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellant.

Donna Carol Sanger, Assistant United States Attorney, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee.


James Wyda, Federal Public Defender, Denise Barrett, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellant.

Thomas M. DiBiagio, United States Attorney, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee.

Before NIEMEYER, LUTTIG, and MOTZ, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge NIEMEYER wrote the opinion, in which Judge LUTTIG and Judge MOTZ joined.


NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:

Kenzie Hylton was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), and sentenced to 210 months' imprisonment. On appeal he challenges his conviction, contending (1) that the firearm was seized pursuant to a warrantless search of his girlfriend's apartment where he was living, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) that his later statement admitting possession of the firearm was obtained without the benefit of counsel at a time when his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had attached; and (3) that the district court's Allen charge to a deadlocked jury improperly coerced the jury to reach a verdict. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


On April 23, 2001, following an argument between Kenzie Hylton and his girlfriend Hawanya Harper, Harper called the Prince George's County police for assistance, telling the police that Hylton was in her apartment with a gun and that he would not let her in. After police officers arrived, Harper told them that she and Hylton had had an argument and that Hylton had refused to let her into the apartment. She also told the officers that a gun was located "under the bed" or "under the mattress" in the bedroom that she and Hylton shared. Although Harper was the leaseholder of the apartment, she told officers that Hylton was a live-in boyfriend and the father of one of her children. She told the officers that two of her children were either in the apartment or at a neighbor's house. During her conversations with the officers, she also related how Hylton had raped her the previous week, using the gun to facilitate the rape.

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The officers tried to call Hylton by telephone, but he refused to answer. They also determined through the police dispatcher that he was the subject of three outstanding minor traffic warrants for his arrest. After about 40 minutes, Hylton answered the telephone and surrendered to the police outside of the apartment, where he was placed under arrest on the three outstanding warrants.

The officers then entered the apartment and conducted a protective sweep to "secure it" and to retrieve the gun described by Harper. The officers found a loaded .38 caliber gun between the mattress and the box spring of the bed identified by Harper.

After processing Hylton's arrest under the warrants and learning that Hylton had been convicted previously of a felony, the officers filed a "statement of charges" in the District Court of Maryland for Prince George's County, charging Hylton with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of Maryland Code, Article 27, § 445(d) (1996) (current version at Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-133(c) (2003)). After Hylton appeared before a judicial officer, he was released.

Two days later, on April 25, 2001, Harper called the police again to relate that Hylton had made telephone calls in which he threatened to kill her. Prince George's County police officers again arrested Hylton, this time pursuant to a warrant issued for witness intimidation and harassment. After signing a form advising him of his Miranda rights, Hylton signed a written waiver of those rights, indicating that he wished to talk to police without a lawyer. During the ensuing interrogation, Hylton signed a statement that he had possessed the .38 caliber gun that had been seized from Harper's apartment two days earlier.

Hylton was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 14, 2001, charging him with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). He responded, filing motions to suppress (1) the .38 caliber gun seized on April 23 from Harper's apartment and (2) the statement he gave two days later admitting possession of the gun. The district court denied both motions, and the case proceeded to trial. When the jury announced that they were unable to reach a unanimous decision, the court gave the jury an "Allen charge," requesting them to make another effort to reach a unanimous...

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