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United States of America v. Daniel Littledale

July 12, 2011


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 07 CR 00447-Matthew F. Kennelly, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: " Bauer, Circuit Judge.


Before EASTERBROOK, Chief Judge, and BAUER, Circuit Judge, and YOUNG, District Judge.

Daniel Littledale pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(2)(A) but reserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. We affirm.

"The Honorable Richard L. Young, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, sitting by designation.


In early 2007, agents from the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) discovered that an individual in Illinois was using the username "neodmoney" to send and receive images of child pornography. Upon further investigation, they learned that the username was associated with an address in Hanover Park where Richard Ahrens, Dale Ahrens (Richard's brother), and Cynthia Littledale resided.

Special Agent Jennifer Sapper prepared a federal warrant for the residence. The operational plan associated with this warrant indicated that Richard was the target of the investigation and believed to be "neodmoney" because (1) he lived in the house; (2) he attempted suicide in 2002; and (3) ICE has found that individuals who possess and distribute child pornography are predominately male. The operational plan also assigned ICE agents to interview Richard, Cynthia, and other individuals the agents expected to encounter during the search; no agent was assigned to interview Daniel Littledale, Cynthia's twenty-year-old son, because ICE agents did not yet know he resided in the home.

When ICE agents executed the search warrant, Cynthia Littledale informed them that Daniel Littledale lived in the house and that he attended school at the College of DuPage. Because it is ICE's practice to interview all occupants of the home, Agent Sapper immediately dispatched Agents Demetrius Flowers and Timothy Morris to the college. The purpose of interviewing all residents of a household is to (1) learn the passwords on the com- puters, if any; (2) identify individuals who had access to the computers, saw child pornography on the computers, or saw another person view child pornography on the computers; and (3) rule out from suspicion those individuals who reside in the home but who have not possessed or viewed child pornography.

Agents Flowers and Morris were met by campus police officers when they arrived at the College of DuPage. The officers were in uniform and carrying holstered weapons, but the agents wore blue jeans and T-shirts, one of which read "Special Agent." At this time, the agents did not consider Littledale to be a suspect.

Upon arriving at Littledale's classroom, a campus police officer informed Littledale's professor, "We need Mr. Littledale." Littledale then left the classroom and stood in the hallway while Agent Flowers introduced everyone and asked Littledale if he would agree to speak with them in a private office located within the campus police station. They did so because other people were in the hallway, Littledale's class was adjourning soon, and the agents thought Littledale might appreciate discussing child pornography outside the presence of his peers. Littledale consented. During the short walk to the campus police station, the agents chatted with the defendant about school. They did not draw their weapons, handcuff Littledale, physically touch or threaten to touch Littledale, or search Littledale or his backpack. They used a monotone tone of voice, and they testified that Littledale appeared calm.

The private office in which the agents interviewed Littledale contained a desk, a computer, and other personal items; it was not an interrogation room or an interview room. Littledale sat behind the desk, the agents sat opposite him, and the officers waited outside in the hallway. The door was either mostly or completely shut.

Agent Flowers began the interview by assuring Littledale that he was not under arrest and that he was not in any trouble. The agent then told Littledale that other ICE agents were executing a search warrant at his home and that they would like to ask Littledale some questions. Littledale again agreed to speak to the agents. Approximately twenty-five minutes later, Littledale admitted that he had seen child pornography on the guest bedroom computer, that he had been sending and receiving child pornography for about five or six years, and that his username was "neodmoney" and his password was "blackrose." Agent Flowers then read Littledale his Miranda rights and prepared a statement of rights form, with the words "I was taken into custody" scratched out. Littledale signed the form. He then confessed again, adding that his mother had caught him looking at child pornography in the past.

Littledale also agreed to prepare a written statement and to initial images of child pornography that he remembered seeing or downloading. When the interview concluded, Littledale was not placed under arrest, and he walked ...

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