901 F.3d 455 (4th Cir. 2018), 16-4343, United States v. Bell

Docket Nº:16-4343
Citation:901 F.3d 455
Opinion Judge:NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Quintin Antonio BELL, a/k/a Quinton Antonio Bell, a/k/a Quinten Antonio Bell, a/k/a Go-Go, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Kian James Hudson, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER, LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant. Michael Thomas Packard, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee. James Wyda, Baltimore, Maryland, Paresh Patel, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Greenbelt, Maryland; Miguel A. E...
Judge Panel:Before NIEMEYER, WYNN, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges. WYNN, Circuit Judge, dissenting:
Case Date:August 28, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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901 F.3d 455 (4th Cir. 2018)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Quintin Antonio BELL, a/k/a Quinton Antonio Bell, a/k/a Quinten Antonio Bell, a/k/a Go-Go, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 16-4343

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

August 28, 2018

Argued: March 22, 2018

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Greenbelt. George Jarrod Hazel, District Judge. (8:14-cr-00531-GJH-1)

ARGUED:

Kian James Hudson, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER, LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

Michael Thomas Packard, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

James Wyda, Baltimore, Maryland, Paresh Patel, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Greenbelt, Maryland; Miguel A. Estrada, Russell B. Balikian, Nathan H. Jack, GIBSON, DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

Stephen M. Schenning, Acting United States Attorney, Daniel C. Gardner, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

Before NIEMEYER, WYNN, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:

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Following a six-day trial, a jury convicted Quintin Bell of (1) possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); (2) possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin and cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); (3) possession of a firearm as a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); and (4) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). Based on Bell’s prior convictions, the district court sentenced Bell to a mandatory minimum sentence of 480 months’ imprisonment.

On appeal, Bell contends that the district court erred (1) in denying his motion to suppress statements he made to officers executing a search warrant for his residence; (2) in admitting "other acts" evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b); (3) in denying his motion to disclose the identity of a confidential informant who provided information used to obtain the search warrant; and (4) in enhancing his sentence on the basis of his prior convictions.

For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I

On April 9, 2014, an ATF task force consisting of federal and state law enforcement officers obtained a "no-knock" warrant from the Circuit Court of Prince George’s County, Maryland, to search 5404 Morton Place in Riverdale, Maryland, and to seize from the house any narcotics, firearms, and related items found. The probable cause for the warrant was based on the affidavit of ATF Special Agent Frank Oliver, who had learned from a confidential informant ("CI-1") that Bell was "utilizing the residence to sell and store large quantities of Heroin while armed with a firearm." The warrant application recounted that CI-1 had recently visited Bell’s residence and "observed, inside a room of the residence, a firearm and a quantity of heroin, consistent with distribution amounts." It further stated that the informant had been shown a police photograph of Bell and had "positively identified" him as "the individual utilizing [the residence] to sell ... Heroin."

The next morning, April 10, 2014, officers of the Prince George’s Police Department made a forced entry into 5404 Morton Place to execute the warrant and, while performing a security sweep, found Bell in the basement and placed him in handcuffs. They led him upstairs to the living room and seated him in a chair near his wife, Stacy Bell ("Stacy"), who had also been handcuffed and seated in a chair. After the house was secured, Agent Oliver

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entered the living room and, knowing that Stacy was the owner of the house, informed her "that [he] had a narcotics search warrant for the home" and then asked her, in the interest of officer safety, "if there [were] any weapons in the house that would hurt an officer." Before Stacy could respond, however, Bell interjected, stating that "there was a gun under the couch" next to them and that "a friend had given him the gun [after] somebody had tried to break into the house and rob him." Officers then searched under the living-room couch and recovered a Mini-14 Ruger semi-automatic rifle.

The ATF task force proceeded to search the house, recovering extensive evidence of drug trafficking. In the basement, where Bell was found, officers found approximately 112 grams of heroin and various drug-trafficking paraphernalia, including a digital scale, empty pill capsules, a capsule-filling device, and bottles of cutting agents. They also found a loaded rifle magazine that was compatible with the Mini-14 Ruger rifle. In the master bedroom upstairs, the officers found in a nightstand several more grams of heroin, another scale, approximately $2,000 in cash, a letter addressed to Bell, and Bell’s driver’s license. And in a separate bedroom, they found in a filing cabinet approximately $10,000 in cash and a collection of jewelry. Upon completion of the search, the task force released Bell from custody, pursuant to the "request of another [law enforcement] agency."

Some four months later, on August 24, 2014, officers of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia ("MPD") received a tip leading them to investigate a parked car in Southeast Washington, D.C. Bell was in the car, accompanied by two others. As the officers approached, Bell opened his door and attempted to exit but was apprehended. The officers found a loaded Glock pistol next to the driver’s seat, where Bell had been sitting, as well as approximately $1,000 in cash on Bell’s person. They also found several small baggies of marijuana, heroin, and crack cocaine in the car’s center console. One baggie containing marijuana was imprinted with green dollar signs, and another baggie containing heroin was imprinted with blue caricatures of a devil’s face.

After the MPD officers brought Bell back to the station, a detective advised him of his Miranda rights and then interviewed him. During the interview, which was recorded by video, Bell stated that he had been "sharing" the Glock pistol with another man in the car; that the two of them had been "hustlin[g] together" when they were arrested; that he had come to Washington, D.C., that evening to buy "two guns and some coke"; and that, in particular, he was expecting to buy "two Rugers." Bell was charged in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with several offenses relating to this incident, but the government subsequently decided not to prosecute him in the District of Columbia and dismissed the charges.

Five days later, on August 29, 2014, while Bell was still in custody in Washington, D.C., the ATF task force executed a second search warrant at 5404 Morton Place. Probable cause for this warrant was based on Bell’s Washington, D.C. arrest, the evidence from the initial search in April 2014, and CI-1’s assertion that Bell was "storing quantities of heroin within [the] residence ... consistent with distribution amounts." During this search, officers found 14 grams of heroin and 3 grams of crack cocaine in the basement, as well as baggies marked with green dollar signs and blue devil faces. Elsewhere in Bell’s residence, they again recovered other evidence of drug trafficking, including digital

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scales, bottles of cutting agent, and handgun ammunition hidden inside a crockpot.

In November 2014, a grand jury indicted Bell on four counts for drug trafficking and the illegal possession of a firearm. Bell filed a pretrial motion to suppress the statements he made to Agent Oliver during the April 2014 search of his residence, when he admitted to possession of the Ruger rifle, contending that the statements were obtained in violation of Miranda . He also filed a motion to compel disclosure of the identity of CI-1 or, in the alternative, for an in camera examination of the informant to determine whether disclosure was warranted. Also prior to trial, the government filed a motion to admit evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) of Bell’s arrest in Washington, D.C., including the video of his interview.

Following a two-day hearing on these pretrial motions, the district court denied Bells motion to suppress, stating that Agent Oliver had testified credibly about the April 2014 search; that Oliver had directed his question about weapons in the house to Stacy; and that Bell had then volunteered the answer. The court thus concluded that Bell was not interrogated in violation of Miranda . The court also denied Bells motion to disclose the identity of CI-1, explaining that Bell had failed to meet his burden to pierce the informers...

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