The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge
In August 2004, James Wendt was indicted for possession with
intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 841.*fn1 At his arraignment, Wendt was released on bond,
and trial was set for October 25, 2004. Wendt successfully moved
to continue both the deadline for filing a suppression motion and
the trial date (the latter was continued to December 13, 2004).
On October 25, 2004, Wendt filed a motion to suppress evidence
and quash arrest (Doc. 25) and memorandum in support (Doc. 26).
In the wake of several continuances, that motion was set for
hearing February 18, 2005, with trial to commence the following
month. The United States of America ("the Government") responded
to Wendt's motion on January 29, 2005 (Doc. 43).
Ten days later, Wendt moved to supplement his suppression
motion, actually seeking to reverse his position on the question
of whether probable cause supported his traffic stop. Wendt claimed that the receipt of certain "newly discovered evidence"
caused him to withdraw his earlier concession that probable cause
existed for the traffic stop/seizure.
The Court permitted the "supplementation," with the
understanding that Wendt would promptly produce to the Government
whatever newly discovered evidence triggered the change in
positions. See Doc. 55.*fn2 On February 17, 2005, defense
counsel obtained another continuance, which resulted in the
suppression hearing being moved to February 25, 2005.
At the February 25th hearing, defense counsel (complaining
of having just received certain tape recordings requested just
one week earlier) orally moved to continue the suppression
hearing and trial yet again. Over the Government's objection, the
Court granted Wendt's oral motions, continued the suppression
hearing to June 6, 2005, and continued trial to June 7, 2005.
Wendt moves to quash his arrest and suppress all evidence
discovered (and statements made) during a July 2004 traffic stop
and search of his vehicle. A hearing was held on the suppression
motion on June 6 and June 7, 2005 and the parties were permitted
to submit written closing arguments. Having heard the evidence
and reviewed the various legal memoranda, the Court finds that
the evidence establishes the following.
II. Analysis of Motion to Suppress Evidence and Quash Arrest
On July 22, 2004, members of the Metropolitan Enforcement Group
of Southwestern Illinois ("MEGSI") and the Collinsville, Illinois
Police Department placed signs on the shoulder of the eastbound lanes of Interstate 55/70 about a half-mile west of
Exit 9 (the "Black Lane" exit). The signs stated that a drug
checkpoint lay one mile ahead. Decoy police cruisers (which
actually contained no officers) were positioned down the highway
with their lights activated. The officers and agents positioned
themselves off the interstate, down Exit 9 near the intersection
of Fairway Drive and Black Lane/Fairmont Avenue.
Just before 3:00 p.m., MEGSI Agent Michael Parkinson (using
binoculars, sitting in his Jeep Cherokee, and acting as a
"spotter" observing the eastbound lanes of 55/70) radioed the
officers that he had seen a white Ford Expedition cross two lanes
of traffic without using a turn signal and exit the interstate
without using a turn signal.
As the Expedition drove onto the exit ramp for Black Lane,
MEGSI Agent Jon Brett Boerm saw the vehicle straddling the center
line of the roadway. Agent Boerm initiated a stop at the
intersection of Fairmont Avenue and Fairway Drive. The vehicle
had Missouri license plates.
Boerm approached the driver of the Expedition, explained the
reason for the traffic stop, and asked for the driver's license.
Defendant James Wendt provided a Missouri driver's license.
Wendt's hands were visibly trembling as he handed over the
license. Boerm asked where Wendt resided. Wendt did not make eye
contact. He responded in a shaky voice that he was living in
Springfield, Missouri. Wendt then volunteered that he was
traveling to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Through the open driver's side
window of the Expedition, Boerm saw what looked like a license
plate sticking out from the passenger floor mat.
While this exchange was taking place, Collinsville Police
Officer Charles Mackin approached the rear driver's side of
Wendt's vehicle and noticed fresh black paint on the rear wheel well. This aroused Mackin's suspicion, because his training in
drug interdiction had taught him that fresh ...