United States v. Garmon, CRIMINAL ACTION NO. 2:20-cr-103-2

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
Decision Date06 July 2021
Docket NumberCRIMINAL ACTION NO. 2:20-cr-103-2


CRIMINAL ACTION NO. 2:20-cr-103-2


July 6, 2021


Before the Court is Defendant Jennifer Michelle Garmon's Motion to Suppress. ECF No. 42. The Government filed a response and Defendant did not reply. ECF No. 43. The Court held a hearing on Tuesday June 1, 2021. ECF No. 55. For the reasons below, Defendant's motion is DENIED.


On November 5, 2020, the Government filed an Indictment charging Defendant and co-defendant Jeremey Wayne Johnson with Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, commonly known as "ice," in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A). ECF No. 1. On April 1, 2021, Defendant appeared before the Magistrate Judge where Defendant waived formal arraignment, entered a plea of not guilty, demanded a jury trial, and she was ordered to be detained pending trial. ECF Nos. 29, 32.

On April 23, 2021, Defendant filed the instant Motion to suppress all the evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. ECF No. 42. According to the Indictment, on May 15, 2020, Jeremy Wayne Johnson rented a car to travel to Arizona. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 1. On May 16, 2020, Johnson and Defendant Garmon traveled to Arizona to purchase methamphetamine for

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distribution in Virginia. Id. at ¶ 2. On May 19, 2020, Johnson purchased methamphetamine through an associate of Garmon.

The following factual background is based on Defendant's motion to suppress and the Government's response and Exhibits. On May 20, 2020, at approximately 11:30 a.m., Arizona State Trooper M. Craft was patrolling Interstate 17 in Yavapai County, Arizona, when he observed a white Kia sedan with New York plates traveling northbound. Trooper Craft stopped the vehicle for speeding, driving at 80 mph in a posted 75 mph zone, and for texting and driving. Trooper Craft approached the white Kia on the passenger's side, Johnson lowered the front passenger's side window, and Trooper Craft explained the purpose for the stop.

Craft asked Johnson for his driver's license and Johnson identified himself as Kris Clark but did not have any form of identification. Johnson denied having any outstanding warrants or weapons in his possession. Johnson also identified the white Kia as a rental. Meanwhile, Defendant Garmon was a backseat passenger laying across the rear seat. Garmon also did not have any form of identification. Subsequently, Trooper Craft asked Johnson to exit the vehicle so Craft could issue a warning for the violations. As Johnson stepped out of the driver's door, and due to Johnson's behavior, Craft asked him to pull up his shirt. With his left hand, Johnson pulled up the left side of his shirt, keeping his right hand down at his right side as if concealing something. In response, Craft patted Johnson down and discovered a Ruger .380 handgun tucked into Johnson's pants under the right side of his shirt. At that time, Trooper Craft had Johnson wait at the front comer of Craft's patrol vehicle and called Trooper Huijkman for backup.

Trooper Huijkman arrived at 11:37 a.m. and his canine partner "Dublin" arrived on scene and was briefed by Trooper Craft. Trooper Craft asked Garmon to step out of the vehicle and asked Garmon how she knew Johnson. Garmon responded that he was a friend. Craft asked Garmon for

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the driver's name, and she responded "Chris" but advised that the driver might spell it with a "K." Garmon stated the driver's last name was "Clark." Garmon stated the driver might have left his ID at the hotel. Garmon said that they were staying at the Scottsdale Resort and had been out in the area for three or four days.

Meanwhile, Trooper Craft went back to speak with Johnson again. Craft told Johnson that he (Johnson) was not being truthful concerning the length of his stay in Arizona. Trooper Craft asked Johnson about his identity and Johnson said that his name was "Kris Clark," and that his driver's license is from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Johnson also said they had been staying at the "Spotsville Plaza." Craft asked Johnson if he meant Scottsdale Plaza and Johnson agreed. Craft then attempted to confirm the spelling of Johnson's last name by repeating K-L-A-R-K bur Johnson responded C-L-A-R-K. Johnson told Craft his first name was spelled with a K. Craft asked Johnson to spell his first name. Johnson responded, "K-R-I-S . . . Kristopher." Johnson was placed in handcuffs and Craft advised Johnson he was not under arrest, but he was being detained due to his behavior. Trooper Craft ran a warrant check on the name of Kris Clark which came back with no outstanding warrants. The driver's license also came back as valid from Virginia. Then Craft asked whether Johnson whether he had ever been to prison before, and Johnson said yes. Craft asked if the gun was his, and Johnson said yes. Craft also confirmed the firearm was not reported stolen.

While Trooper Craft was completing the warning, Trooper Craft told Johnson and Garmon that they were being dishonest concerning the length of their stay in Arizona. Trooper Craft also asked the Garmon and Johnson whether there was anything illegal in the car. ECF No. 42 at Exhibit 1. Johnson answered, "No sir." Craft asked Johnson and Garmon whether they were responsible for everything in the car. Johnson answered, "Yes sir. There's nothing in there." Trooper Craft asked who rented the car. Johnson responded he rented the car. Craft asked Johnson and Garmon whether

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they both had luggage in the trunk. Johnson and Garmon both answered yes. Craft asked for consent to search the car. Johnson answered, "Sure!" Johnson asked Craft why he wanted to search the car. Craft replied he believed Johnson and Garmon were involved in illegal activity. In response, Johnson told Craft he did not consent to search the vehicle.

Immediately thereafter, at approximately 11:55 a.m., Trooper Craft asked Trooper Huijkman to deploy his drug dog on the white Kia. At approximately 11:55 a.m., Trooper Huijkman commenced a screening of the white Kia with drug dog "Dublin." "Dublin" alerted on the driver's side window, trunk seam, and passenger's door. In the trunk, Trooper Huijkman discovered an opened potato chip bag containing approximately 865.43 grams of methamphetamine of 80% or greater purity. Johnson and Garmon possessed the 865.43 grams of methamphetamine. Johnson and Garmon were placed under arrest and secured in the rear of a patrol vehicle.

The Troopers drove the rental car to their office in Cordes Junction, Arizona. Continuing to search the vehicle now parked at their office, the Troopers discovered another 53.19 grams of methamphetamine of 80% or greater purity, a "loaded" syringe, a glass smoking pipe with residue, ten pills, a glass bong, a digital scale with crystal residue, another syringe, and a spoon. Johnson also admitted his identity as Jeremy Wayne Johnson, with a date of birth in 1976. Craft determined the Johnson was wanted in Virginia on a non-extraditable warrant for a drug offense.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., Detective D. Burns of the Arizona State Police advised Garmon of her Miranda rights. Garmon agreed to answer Burns' questions. Garmon admitted the purpose of their trip from Virginia to Arizona was to obtain methamphetamine for redistribution. Garmon advised she was going to be paid $800 to $900 for her part in the transaction. Garmon advised that methamphetamine was scarce in Virginia. At approximately 2:25 p.m., Johnson waived his Miranda rights and spoke with Det. Burns. Johnson admitted to traveling to Phoenix to buy drugs.

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All evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth or Fifth Amendment must be excluded for the protection of a defendant's constitutional rights but also to deter Government violations. See Pennsylvania Bd. of Probation and Parole v. Scott, 524 U.S. 357, 363, (1998) (holding that the exclusionary rule is a prudential rule created by this Court to "compel respect for the constitutional guaranty.") (citing Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S. 206, 217, (1960)); see also, Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229, 236 (2011); United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 348 (1974).

The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. Absent an exception, evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment generally is subject to suppression under the exclusionary rule. See United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 347-48, (1974).

The Fifth Amendment commands that "[n]o person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." U.S. CONST. AMEND. V. V. The privilege extends not only "to answers that would in themselves support a conviction... but likewise embraces those which would furnish a link in the chain of evidence needed to prosecute the claimant." Hoffman v. United States, 341 U.S. 479, 486 (1951). The right against self-incrimination attaches whenever a person is in custody and subject to interrogation. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, at 467 (1966). The Supreme Court defined "custodial interrogation as "questioning initiated by law enforcement after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." Id. at 444. An interrogation occurs when the suspects is subject to "compelling pressures which work to undermine the individual's will to resist and to compel him to speak where he would not otherwise do so freely." 384 U.S. at 467. Therefore, "[a] confession made during a custodial interrogation will be suppressed unless police advise the defendant of his rights under

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Miranda... and the defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntary waives those rights." United States v. Holmes, 670 F.3d 86, 591 (citing United States v. Guay, 108 F.3d 545, 549 (4th Cir....

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