627 F.3d 1056 (8th Cir. 2010), 10-1299, United States v. Crippen

Docket Nº:10-1299.
Citation:627 F.3d 1056
Opinion Judge:SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. William James CRIPPEN, Appellant.
Attorney:Angela L. Campbell, argued, Des Moines, IA, for appellant. Stephen H. Locher, AUSA, argued, Des Moines, IA, for appellee.
Judge Panel:Before SHEPHERD, BRIGHT, and ARNOLD, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:December 20, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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627 F.3d 1056 (8th Cir. 2010)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


William James CRIPPEN, Appellant.

No. 10-1299.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

December 20, 2010

Submitted: Sept. 22, 2010.

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Angela L. Campbell, argued, Des Moines, IA, for appellant.

Stephen H. Locher, AUSA, argued, Des Moines, IA, for appellee.

Before SHEPHERD, BRIGHT, and ARNOLD, Circuit Judges.

SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

William Crippen was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S. C. § 841(b)(1)(C), and conspiracy to tamper with a witness in violation of 18 U.S. C. § 1512(b)(2)(A). The district court 1 sentenced him to 180

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months imprisonment. Crippen appeals the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence, the district court's denial of his motions in limine, the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions, and the district court's sentencing decision. We affirm.


The conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine at issue in this case involves conduct spanning a period of two years. In late 2007, Guy Conroy and William Stibbs began manufacturing methamphetamine at Conroy's house. In return for finished methamphetamine, Crippen supplied pseudoephedrine pills to Conroy and Stibbs on multiple occasions. In October 2008, the police executed a search warrant at Conroy's house and discovered ingredients and equipment used in manufacturing methamphetamine. The officers also discovered Crippen, who was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Upon questioning at the police station, Crippen denied any involvement in the operation and explained that he had come to Conroy's house to go fishing. As a result of the search, Stibbs was charged federally and incarcerated, and Conroy was charged in Iowa state court and released pending trial. The specific charges against Crippen are not clear from the record, but he was apparently released.

After the October 2008 search, Crippen and Troy Daniels began cooking methamphetamine. Conroy became involved again while awaiting trial when Crippen and Daniels asked him if they could use his house for part of the manufacturing process. The three men worked together to obtain the ingredients necessary for manufacturing methamphetamine. They obtained pseudoephedrine pills by either purchasing them or asking others to purchase them, obtained anhydrous ammonia by stealing it from tanks on farms and co-ops, and obtained lithium batteries and other ingredients as needed.

In January 2009, Crippen was seated in the front passenger seat of a pickup truck driven by Daniels. When police officer Scott Palmer passed the truck, he noticed Crippen was not wearing his seatbelt. Officer Palmer reversed the direction of his patrol car, and began to follow the truck. Officer Palmer observed Daniels pull into the parking lot of an apartment building, throw rubber tires into a dumpster, and exit the parking lot. Aware of previous trespass complaints at the apartment building, Officer Palmer contacted police dispatch and verified that the apartment manager had not recently given anyone permission to dump trash in the apartment building's dumpster.

Officer Palmer then followed the pickup truck outside city limits and initiated a traffic stop in a rural area. As he approached the vehicle, Officer Palmer recognized Daniels from previous trespass complaints at the apartment building and recognized Crippen from the October 2008 search of Conroy's home. When Daniels could not produce proof of insurance, Officer Palmer asked Daniels to exit the truck. For safety reasons, Office Palmer checked Daniels for weapons and placed him in the front seat of the patrol car to isolate him from Crippen. He then contacted police dispatch to determine whether Daniels was permitted on the apartment premises and learned that the apartment manager had allowed Daniels to stay there overnight. He concluded that he could not arrest Daniels for trespass, but he could issue a citation for failure to have proof of insurance to Daniels and a citation for failure to wear a seatbelt to Crippen.

Officer Palmer returned to the truck to issue the seatbelt citation to Crippen and noticed the curved top of a white coffee

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filter sticking out of Crippen's right coat pocket. Based on his training and experience in law enforcement, Officer Palmer knew coffee filters are often used in manufacturing methamphetamine. He also recalled that Crippen had been in possession of methamphetamine when officers found him at Conroy's house in October 2008.

After observing the coffee filter, Officer Palmer asked Crippen for his name, address, and social security number, then returned to his squad car to check on Daniels and seek backup assistance. He went back to the truck and asked Crippen to exit the vehicle. After conducting a pat-down search of Crippen for weapons, Officer Palmer seized the coffee filters. When Officer Palmer asked Crippen about the filters, Crippen responded by asking what he could do to avoid being charged and admitting that drugs could be found on the driver's side of the vehicle.

Officer Palmer and Detective Tim Cook, who responded to Officer Palmer's request for backup assistance, searched the truck and discovered methamphetamine in plastic baggies under the seats; receipts from the purchase of pseudoephedrine; and a backpack with a digital scale, baggies, a tag from a propane tank, and a brass coupler. Daniels and Crippen were both arrested. It is not clear from the record whether Crippen was charged at this point, but he was apparently released. Daniels remained incarcerated, but he eventually agreed to cooperate with law enforcement to obtain evidence on Conroy and Crippen.

In February 2009, Daniels delivered pseudoephedrine pills to Conroy's house while wearing a recording device. After he arrived, Conroy had a telephone conversation with Crippen during which Crippen agreed to buy lithium batteries at Conroy's request and informed Conroy another individual had left three boxes of pseudoephedrine pills in Conroy's truck. A short time later, Crippen arrived at the house and walked out to the driveway to retrieve the pseudoephedrine pills from Conroy's truck.

With this information, law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant and entered Conroy's house. They found Conroy attempting to hide manufacturing paraphernalia in a hidden compartment in the living room closet with Crippen standing nearby. Officers seized lithium batteries; a pouch with snort tubes, a spoon, and a digital scale; coffee filters; a coffee grinder; and pseudoephedrine pills. Crippen was arrested and charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine and the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.

While Crippen was awaiting trial, he made frequent phone calls to his mother and others from the jail telephone. During these...

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