675 Fed.Appx. 402 (5th Cir. 2017), 15-31096, United States v. Womack
|Citation:||675 Fed.Appx. 402|
|Opinion Judge:||PER CURIAM|
|Party Name:||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee v. BILL W. WOMACK, Defendant-Appellant|
|Attorney:||For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Carol Mignonne Griffing, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA. For BILL W. WOMACK, Defendant - Appellant: James Michael Small, Esq., Law Offices of J. Michael Small, Alexandria, LA; Micha...|
|Judge Panel:||Before ELROD, SOUTHWICK, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||January 09, 2017|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit|
Please Refer Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. USDC No. 1:14-CR-182-1.
For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Carol Mignonne Griffing, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA.
For BILL W. WOMACK, Defendant - Appellant: James Michael Small, Esq., Law Offices of J. Michael Small, Alexandria, LA; Michael Allyn Stroud, Wiener, Weiss & Madison, A.P.C., Shreveport, LA.
Before ELROD, SOUTHWICK, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.
Bill Womack was charged in a six-count indictment after his estranged wife's SUV was damaged by what appeared to be an explosion. Womack filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of a search warrant, arguing the supporting affidavit contained false information included with reckless disregard for the truth. The district court denied the motion to suppress. We AFFIRM.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On August 25, 2014, Womack's estranged wife, Jan, discovered her GMC Yukon had been damaged in what appeared to be an explosives incident in Jonesville, Louisiana. The vehicle's rear window had been entirely destroyed, and its frame was bent inward and outward. The other windows were intact but had been spray-painted black, which gave the appearance of smoke damage. Inside the vehicle, the carcass of a rabbit had been strewn about as if it had exploded. The rabbit's remains were primarily concentrated behind the rear passenger's seat, but its parts were spread throughout the vehicle.
The Catahoula Parish Sheriff's Office did not have anyone trained to investigate explosions. The sheriff called the Louisiana State Police after observing the scene. The State Police determined an explosives incident likely occurred and therefore contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) around 9:39 a.m. The ATF dispatched four agents -- Joe Mann, Megan Taylor, Ron Meadows, and John Pias -- to the scene. Mann, Taylor, and Meadows directly investigated the scene, while Pias conducted interviews with potential witnesses and other persons of interest. ATF Agent T.J. Boddie and Assistant United States Attorney Seth Reeg remained at ATF headquarters in Shreveport to prepare an affidavit in support of a search warrant for Womack's home.
When the agents arrived around lunchtime, they " were all under the impression that a car bomb had gone off and somebody had tried to kill somebody." As a result, the agents performed a post-blast investigation to determine if the damage to Jan's vehicle was, in fact, attributable to an explosion. During the investigation, the agents noted the damage to the rear window and to the interior of the car. Broken glass lay inside the vehicle and on the ground outside. Nonetheless, the rear passenger windows and front windows were all intact with no damage. The agents never found any explosives or " explosive device components" -- i.e., switches, timers, initiators, or containers -- at the scene. Also, the agents contacted Agent Kathy Barton, who visited the scene with her dog trained in detecting the presence of explosives. The dog circled the vehicle but did not react to anything that may indicate the presence of explosive materials inside the vehicle or elsewhere. The investigation took several hours to complete.
The agents were unable to determine conclusively what caused the incident. Mann theorized there may have been an explosion outside the vehicle; for example, the perpetrator could have used a potato gun or other homemade device to propel the rabbit inside the vehicle. A trained dog would not alert to such a device.
While the investigation was ongoing, Pias and FBI Agent Randy Deaton attempted to locate Womack to question him. Pias spoke with Jan's sister, who reported Womack had threatened Jan the night before the incident; he stated that " [Jan] would be blown up if she put her key in the back door." Also, Deaton interviewed a " concerned individual" who was familiar with Womack, his home, and its surroundings. That person reported that he had seen Womack in possession of hand grenades, pipe bombs, a .50-caliber machine gun, and a Thompson .45-style machine gun. The witness allegedly saw these items a few months earlier on...
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