96 F.3d 1450 (7th Cir. 1996), 94-4000, U.S. v. Russell

Docket Nº:94-4000, 94-4013, 95-1036 and 95-1087.
Citation:96 F.3d 1450
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MONTIE L. RUSSELL, MICHAEL GILLESPIE, DEXTER HAMMOND, and RANDY HORTON, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:August 30, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 1450

96 F.3d 1450 (7th Cir. 1996)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

MONTIE L. RUSSELL, MICHAEL GILLESPIE, DEXTER HAMMOND, and RANDY HORTON, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 94-4000, 94-4013, 95-1036 and 95-1087.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 30, 1996

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA7 Rule 53 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Argued April 11, 1996.

As Amended on Denial of Rehearing Dec. 20, 1996.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division, No. 93 CR 20024; Philip G. Reinhard, Judge.

N.D.Ill.

AFFIRMED.

Before BAUER, CUDAHY, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

ORDER

Montie Russell, Michael Gillespie, Dexter Hammond, and Randy Horton participated in an extensive and relatively well-organized conspiracy to sell crack cocaine in Rockford, Illinois. According to witness testimony, the conspiracy was orchestrated and controlled by a small group of individuals, sometimes called "the Mob." The Mob collaborated to purchase powder cocaine, converting some of it to crack, and it made collective decisions about who would sell the crack and powder cocaine and where they would be sold. It also employed a group of subordinates, called "runners" and "workers," who acted upon its decisions. The Mob divided the lion's share of profits from drug sales. The membership of the Mob was somewhat fluid, but, at one time or another, it included Russell, Gillespie, and Horton. Hammond was one of the subordinates. We discuss the facts of the conspiracy more fully in a published opinion in a separate case, United States v. Evans, Nos. 94-3633, 94-3727, 94-3690, 95-3112 & 94-3691, 1996 WL 449847, (7th Cir. August 9, 1996).

In 1993, a grand jury indicted these four and fifteen others on various drug and gun charges. The district court conducted a separate trial for the appellants and one other defendant, Gloria Holmes. Although the jury acquitted Holmes, it convicted all of the appellants on each of the charges brought against them. Russell, Hammond, and Gillespie now challenge their convictions, and Gillespie, Hammond, and Horton challenge their sentences. We affirm the judgment of the district court in all respects.

Hammond argues that the district court erred in denying his pre-trial motion to suppress evidence that he possessed a "street sweeper" shotgun. The court concluded that the evidence had been properly obtained in a warrantless search. This evidence had been important to his conviction and to his sentence, and his argument about the denial of his motion therefore implicates both. According to the Supreme Court's recent opinion in Ornelas v. United States, 116 S.Ct. 1657 (1996), we undertake a de novo review of a district court's decision to admit evidence that is the product of a warrantless search.

Officers of the Rockford Police Department discovered Hammond's possession of the shotgun during his arrest. Hammond shared a home with his mother, and the police went there to execute an arrest warrant for him. Hammond's mother let the officers inside, where they encountered Hammond as he climbed the stairs from his basement room. Because he was barefoot, Hammond asked the officers to let him return to his room and get a pair of shoes. While Hammond sat on his bed and put on his shoes, an officer looked through an open closet door a few feet from the bed and saw a black mesh bag bearing a sticker that read "Assault Systems." As other officers were handcuffing Hammond, this officer opened the bag and found the shotgun.

The district court ruled that this discovery was legitimate under two exceptions to the warrant requirement: the protective-sweep exception described in Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (1990) and the search-incident-to-arrest exception set forth in Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969). We conclude that the district court correctly decided to admit the evidence that came from this discovery.

The officers certainly had the authority to look into the closet and discover the bag itself. The record before us does not clearly show whether the bag was visible from Hammond's bedroom through the open closet door or whether the officer saw it only after entering the closet; but, in either event, the discovery of the bag would be...

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