United States v. Mosely, 122117 FED8, 16-4379

Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Judge Panel:Before SMITH, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.
Opinion Judge:GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee v. Stanley Earl Mosley, Jr. Defendant-Appellant United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee v. Katherine Amanda Pihl Defendant-Appellant United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee v. Lance Lapae Monden Defendant-Appellant
Case Date:December 21, 2017
Docket Nº:16-4379, 16-4424, 16-4489
 
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United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee

v.

Stanley Earl Mosley, Jr. Defendant-Appellant

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee

v.

Katherine Amanda Pihl Defendant-Appellant

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee

v.

Lance Lapae Monden Defendant-Appellant

Nos. 16-4379, 16-4424, 16-4489

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 21, 2017

          Submitted: September 21, 2017

         Appeals from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Cedar Rapids

          Before SMITH, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

          GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.

         Stanley Mosley, Katherine Pihl, and Lance Monden appeal the district court's1denial of their motions to suppress. Mosley also appeals the district court's determination that he qualifies as a career offender under the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("U.S.S.G."). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I.

         On May 20, 2016, at approximately 2:35 p.m., two individuals robbed a bank in Palo, Iowa. The robbers were in the bank for about a minute. As the robbers were leaving the bank, four individuals in a truck driving by saw the robbers flee across the grass but eventually lost sight of them. As the truck circled around the block attempting to spot the robbers again, one of the individuals in the truck ("the witness") called the bank. After the bank received the call from the witness, a bank employee called 911 and began relaying information about the robbery, including information the employee was getting from the witness on the other line. Though the witness could not locate the robbers he initially saw running from the bank, he reported that a gray/silver Ford Taurus was in the vicinity of the bank and was the only vehicle leaving the area in the moments after the robbery. The witness followed the Taurus and gave its location and direction of travel to the bank employee, who continued to relay the information to 911 dispatch. When the witness got close enough to see inside the gray Taurus, he reported that he could only see one woman in the car, whereas he had seen two men running from the bank. At this point, the witness indicated that he was no longer sure if the gray Taurus was involved in the bank robbery.

         Around 2:40 p.m., Deputy Uher received a radio dispatch that a gray Ford Taurus may have been involved in a bank robbery and was seen heading southbound on Highway 94 toward Cedar Rapids. A few minutes later, he identified a vehicle matching the color, make, and model given in the description, and the vehicle was traveling in the direction indicated by the witness. At about 2:44 p.m., Deputy Uher initiated a stop of the Taurus approximately 5.8 miles from the bank and approximately eight minutes after the robbery took place.

         Deputy Uher ran the Taurus's license plate number and determined that the car was registered to Farrah Franklin. As Deputy Uher prepared to approach the driver, dispatch reported that the witness was not sure if the Taurus was involved in the robbery. Deputy Uher spoke with the driver, Katherine Pihl, but did not see anyone else inside the car. Deputy Uher then told Pihl she could leave, but before she could, another officer suggested via radio that Deputy Uher obtain more information from Pihl. At about 2:47 p.m., dispatch informed Deputy Uher that they had spoken directly to the witness and that he indicated he did not actually see the two robbers get in the gray Taurus. Deputy Uher then told dispatch that he was going to let Pihl go. Another deputy suggested that Deputy Uher check the trunk. At approximately 2:48 p.m., Pihl opened the trunk. Inside and about four minutes after Deputy Uher initiated the stop, officers found Monden and Mosley, along with cash and masks. Pihl, Monden, and Mosley were arrested.

         Pihl, Monden, and Mosley were indicted for bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). All three filed motions to suppress evidence under the Fourth Amendment. The magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation concluding that the district court should deny the motions to suppress. Thereafter, Pihl, Monden, and Mosley pleaded guilty, reserving their rights to appeal the denial of the suppression motions. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(a)(2). The district court accepted the report and recommendation and denied the motions to suppress. At sentencing, the district court found that Mosley qualified for a career offender enhancement but varied downward after calculating his guidelines range. On appeal, Pihl, Monden, and Mosley challenge the denial of their suppression motions, and Mosley challenges his sentence, claiming that he does not qualify as a career offender.

         II.

         "We review the denial of a motion to suppress de novo but the underlying factual determinations for clear error, giving due weight to inferences drawn by law enforcement officials." United States v. Hurd, 785 F.3d 311, 314 (8th Cir. 2015). In their motions to suppress, the appellants challenged the legality of the stop, the duration of the stop, and the search of the trunk. We address each issue in turn.

         A. "The Fourth Amendment permits investigative traffic stops when law enforcement has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity." United States v. Tamayo-Baez, 820 F.3d 308, 312 (8th Cir. 2016) (citing Navarette v. California, 134 S.Ct. 1683, 1687 (2014)). Reasonable suspicion "is considerably less than proof of wrongdoing by a preponderance of the evidence, and obviously less than is necessary for probable cause." Navarette, 134 S.Ct. at 1687 (internal quotation marks omitted). "Reasonable suspicion exists when an officer is aware of particularized, objective facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant suspicion that a crime is being committed." United States v. Givens, 763 F.3d 987, 989 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). Though an "inchoate hunch" does not equate to reasonable suspicion, "the Fourth Amendment only requires that police articulate some minimal, objective justification for an investigatory stop." Tamayo-Baez, 820 F.3d at 312. We assess whether a law enforcement official had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on the totality of the circumstances. Id.

         The appellants claim that the district court erred in two ways when finding that the vehicle stop was supported by reasonable suspicion. First, they assert that because the police officers in this case were unsure whether the gray Taurus was involved in the bank robbery, they lacked reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle matching that description. Second, the appellants argue that the tip from the witness was unreliable and therefore insufficient to create reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Both contentions are inconsistent with controlling precedent.

         First, the...

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