362 F.3d 60 (1st Cir. 2004), 02-1757, United States v. Beaudoin

Docket Nº:02-1757, 02-1850.
Citation:362 F.3d 60
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Rodger BEAUDOIN, Defendant, Appellant. United States of America, Appellee, v. Robert Champagne, Defendant, Appellant.
Case Date:March 26, 2004
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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362 F.3d 60 (1st Cir. 2004)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Rodger BEAUDOIN, Defendant, Appellant.

United States of America, Appellee,


Robert Champagne, Defendant, Appellant.

Nos. 02-1757, 02-1850.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

March 26, 2004

Heard Sept. 3, 2003.

Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc Denied April 22, 2004.

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William E. Christie, with whom Shaheen & Gordon was on brief, for appellant Rodger Beaudoin.

Joshua L. Gordon for appellant Robert Champagne.

Terry L. Ollila, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Thomas P. Colantuono, United States Attorney, was on brief for appellee.

Before LYNCH, Circuit Judge, SILER,[*] Circuit Judge, and LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

LYNCH, Circuit Judge.

This appeal presents interesting questions about the application of the Fourth Amendment when an anonymous tipster informs police that there is a dead body in a motel room.

A series of events cascaded from that tip, resulting in the arrests of Rodger Beaudoin and Robert Champagne on various drug-related charges and a federal prosecution for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack and for possession of crack with intent to distribute. 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846. Before trial, the defendants each moved to suppress all of the evidence that the police had found in a search of them and their motel room, including knives, drugs, drug paraphernalia, and large amounts of cash. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court, in a thoughtful opinion, denied their motions. The defendants pled guilty but preserved the right to challenge the suppression ruling on appeal, which they now exercise. Champagne also appeals from a sentence enhancement. We affirm both the denial of the suppression motions and the sentence enhancement.


Background Facts

The facts are taken from the suppression hearing, as found by the district judge, and supplemented from the record.

At 5:15 in the morning on July 24, 2001, the Manchester, New Hampshire Police Department informed the Hookset Police Department that a dispatcher had just received a 911 call during which an unidentified person reported "a drug deal gone bad at the Kozy 7 Motel, Room 10" in Hooksett. The caller said "I think there is a dead body in there," and then hung-up before any follow-up questions could be asked.

Three Hooksett officers, Sergeant Chamberlain and Officers Pinardi and Sherrill, were immediately dispatched to the motel, about three miles away. Officer Pinardi understood that the information was that "a drug deal [had] gone bad, during which a person was allegedly shot and there was a dead body." The call transcript itself contains nothing about a shooting, but Pinardi heard the dispatcher

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conveying the information to Chamberlain. The motel was not upscale and was the sort of place that police had visited before in connection with criminal activity.

The officers arrived several minutes later. They did not attempt to see the motel manager to ask if there was any unusual activity in the room, but instead went straight to the room that the caller had identified. The officers noticed that a light was on in Room 10, but that all of the other rooms were dark. The curtain of the window to Room 10 was closed.

The uniformed officers approached the room; Officers Pinardi and Sherrill took positions on either side of the doorway, while Sergeant Chamberlain stood farther back on the opposite side of the motel room's window. Pinardi stood to the left of the door for "officer safety reasons." Among other things, in that position he "would be able to see inside the room, see what was going on, and also ... be able to get out of the way if ... the door ... swung open." Officer Sherrill instinctively stood in front of the door, but he moved to the right after Sergeant Chamberlain told him to step away from the door. Sergeant Chamberlain chose a position to the right of the door, by the window, to get "a little concealment or whatever if something did happen in the room, whether there was going to be a shoot-out or whatever." He was concerned for his own safety because of the report that there was a dead body in the room.

Chamberlain, with a view of the window, saw some movement behind the window, and the officers heard some rustling from the room. Pinardi knocked on the door. A man (who was later identified as Beaudoin) drew back the curtains of the window and peered outside toward Chamberlain. There was sufficient light to see the uniformed officers. Chamberlain then identified himself and the others as Hooksett police officers and asked the man to go to the door so they could speak with him. The man, Beaudoin, opened the door, but only wide enough so his face could be seen. Both the interior door and an outer screen door were opened. Sergeant Chamberlain could not recall if Beaudoin pushed the screen door entirely open, or if Beaudoin pushed the screen door part way open and an officer held it open.

Officers Chamberlain and Pinardi presented slightly varying accounts of what transpired next. These differences prove to be immaterial. Officer Pinardi testified that once Beaudoin opened the door, the officers explained to him that they were investigating a crime and had heard that someone had been shot in the room. Pinardi said that he then asked Beaudoin if he could "just come out here" so the police could talk to him and that Beaudoin did so voluntarily. Sergeant Chamberlain, however, testified that he asked Beaudoin to step outside so they could talk to him, which Beaudoin did, and only then explained why the police were there. Either way, Beaudoin stepped outside, leaving the door behind him sufficiently open so that Pinardi could see inside the room. Whether Beaudoin felt free not to step outside is an open question.

Once Beaudoin was outside, Sergeant Chamberlain asked him if he was carrying any weapons. Beaudoin said that he had a knife in his left rear pocket and started to reach for it. Sergeant Chamberlain said that he would remove the knife, ordered Beaudoin to put his hands on the wall, and proceeded to pat him down. During the pat down, Sergeant Chamberlain patted Beaudoin's left rear pocket and felt three objects: an object that seemed to be a knife and two long and hard cylindrical objects that he was unable to identify. Chamberlain reached into the pocket and removed a knife, two glass tubes, and

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three plastic balls containing crack cocaine. The glass tubes and crack cocaine were contained in one plastic bag. Chamberlain placed Beaudoin under arrest and finished the pat down. He found $300 in Beaudoin's right front pocket.

While Sergeant Chamberlain was frisking Beaudoin, Officer Pinardi made eye contact with a second man in the motel room, later identified as Champagne, through the open door. Once Champagne saw Pinardi, Champagne hurried across the room toward the far wall and began to shuffle through some items on top of a dresser and to reach into his pockets. Pinardi thought it odd that the man, upon seeing the police, did not come toward them to ask why they were there. Pinardi feared that Champagne was either searching for a weapon or trying to hide evidence, so he and Officer Sherrill entered the motel room and directed Champagne away from the dresser and toward the middle of the room. Pinardi explained to Champagne that the officers had received a report that there was a dead person in the motel room. Champagne denied that there was a dead body.

Pinardi asked Champagne if he had any weapons. Champagne, who was nervous, said that he did not, but Officer Pinardi saw that Champagne had a knife clipped to one of his pockets. Pinardi removed the knife and conducted a protective frisk, holding Champagne's arms behind his back. During the frisk, Champagne became increasingly fidgety and kept attempting to free his hands to reach into the pockets of his pants. Pinardi patted Champagne's right front pocket and felt several long, hard cylinders, which he feared could be small pen guns or knives. Champagne became even more fidgety when Pinardi patted that pocket. When Champagne refused to comply with Pinardi's instruction to stop moving his hands, Pinardi and Sherrill pushed him face down on the bed and handcuffed him. Pinardi told Champagne that he was not under arrest but was being restrained so Pinardi could safely ascertain the nature of the situation in the room. Officer Pinardi still had not looked in the bathroom and had no idea whether there was a dead body inside.

Pinardi and Sherrill helped Champagne to his feet and asked him what was in his front pocket. When Champagne said that he did not know, Pinardi stretched open Champagne's pocket so he could see inside it. With the aid of a flashlight held by Sherrill, Pinardi saw several crack pipes, which were the long cylindrical objects that he had feared were weapons, as well as a substance that later proved to be crack-cocaine. Pinardi seized these items and continued his frisk, finding yet more crack and a wad of cash.

After completing these searches, the officers searched the rest of the motel room for a dead body. When they did not find a body, the officers left behind the contraband they had found and brought Beaudoin and Champagne to the police station. Once a search warrant was obtained, the police returned to the motel room and took the contraband found in the searches, as well as additional drug paraphernalia, into police custody. They also found by the door a plugged-in skill saw with its safety cover duct-taped up.


Procedural History

Each defendant was indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack and possession...

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