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United States v. Sanchez

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

September 9, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
NOE SANCHEZ a.k.a. EPIMENIO SANCHEZ GONZALES and MANUEL GONZALEZ, Defendants.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on Defendant Noe Sanchez's, a.k.a. Epimenio Sanchez Gonzales, Motion to Suppress Statements (d/e 20). Defendant's Motion is DENIED. The Government has demonstrated that Defendant knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived his rights under Miranda. Miranda v. Arizona , 384 U.S. 436, 461, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant and his nephew, co-defendant Manuel Gonzalez, have been indicted on charges of conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, unlawful possession of a firearm by an illegal alien, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Defendant has also been charged with illegal re-entry into the United States following deportation.

On September 22, 2011, agents with the Kankakee County Major Crimes Task Force patrolled the area of 7752 South 17000 East Road, St. Anne, Illinois. Authorities had received an anonymous tip regarding marijuana plants being grown in the area. Agents Russ Belcher and Andy Mackin were greeted by co-defendant Manuel Gonzalez as the Agents approached the address.

The Agents advised co-defendant Gonzalez that they were looking for marijuana plants. Co-defendant Gonzalez consented to the Agents searching the property. Next to a shed that appeared to be the living quarters of Defendant and co-defendant Gonzalez, the Agents saw one marijuana plant. Approximately 50 to 75 yards from the shed, the Agents observed numerous manmade, evenly spaced rows of marijuana plants. The plants had yellow plastic flowers attached to them. In all, the Agents recovered 2, 253 marijuana plants from the field and located a loaded Browning BPS 10 gauge shotgun in the shed. At the scene, the Agents asked Defendant and co-defendant Gonzalez about the marijuana plants. Defendant and co-defendant Gonzalez denied any knowledge of the marijuana crop.

A. Defendant Eventually Stated that He and Co-defendant Gonzalez Took Care of the Marijuana Field at 7752 South 17000 East Road, St. Anne, Illinois

Approximately four hours after Defendant had been taken to the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office, Agent Belcher interviewed Defendant, a Mexican National and 28 years old at the time. At the outset of the interview, Agent Belcher asked Defendant if he spoke English well enough to understand Agent Belcher. Defendant waved his hand back and forth and responded, "A little bit... I can understand a lot but, but more than I can speak." Sanchez Interview at 1:10. Agent Belcher told Defendant to "stop" Agent Belcher if Defendant had "any questions... at all" so Agent Belcher could "explain" the County's interview policy and Defendant's rights. Sanchez Interview at 1:15. Defendant answered "Okay." Agent Belcher then said "Cuz I don't want you to, if I need to get a translator in here to help out, I'll do that." Sanchez Interview at 1:25. Again, Defendant answered "Okay."

Agent Belcher then asked Defendant his name, date of birth, address, and phone number. Defendant had difficulty spelling his name orally, but asked for a piece of paper and was able to write his name and date of birth. Sanchez Interview at 1:45, 2:11. Defendant stated that he cannot read English and that he attended school in Mexico until he was 15 years old. Sanchez Interview at 5:55, 6:05.

After these responses, Agent Belcher reviewed the Kankakee County Sheriff's Police Video/Audio Recorded Interview Consent form by reading the form aloud to Defendant. Agent Belcher asked Defendant if he understood what the consent form meant, and Defendant said "Yeah, you just, you gonna be like talking to me and at the same time taking my video and recording." Sanchez Interview at 7:50. Agent Belcher stated, "Exactly."

Agent Belcher subsequently administered the Miranda warnings by reading Kankakee County's Voluntary Statement form aloud to Defendant. Specifically, Agent Belcher advised Defendant of his right to remain silent. Agent Belcher asked Sanchez if he understood what that means. Sanchez answered "Yeah." Sanchez Interview at 9:20. Next, Agent Belcher advised Sanchez that anything he said could be used against him in a court or courts of law for the offense or offenses concerning which this statement is herein made. Agent Belcher asked Sanchez if he understood this right. This time, Sanchez responded with a "Mhmm." Sanchez Interview at 9:30. After Sanchez's response, Agent Belcher advised Defendant of his right to hire a lawyer or, if Defendant could not afford a lawyer, that Defendant could request and receive appointment of a lawyer without cost. Agent Belcher also told Defendant that he had the right to have an attorney present before and during the statement. Again, Agent Belcher asked Defendant if he understood these rights and Defendant said "Yeah." Sanchez Interview at 9:40, 9:50.

As stated, Agent Belcher asked Defendant if he understood each warning that Agent Belcher read aloud. Once Defendant had indicated he understood the warning, Agent Belcher had Defendant initial the Voluntary Statement form on a line next to the specific warning. After giving Defendant all of the Miranda warnings, Agent Belcher asked Defendant to sign the bottom of the Voluntary Statement form and Defendant did so.

Agent Belcher then began asking Defendant questions about the marijuana found at 7752 South 17000 East Road, St. Anne, Illinois. During this questioning, Defendant denied knowledge of or involvement with the growing of the marijuana. At one point, after Defendant continued to deny any knowledge of the marijuana field, Agent Belcher stated:

Well, I'm telling you right now ok, listen to me. Manuel's done the right thing. Right now he's not going to the, to the jail. I can't say that for you. Because I got the pictures that says what you're gonna, it shows me what you're doing. And when you lie to me, that's kind of pissing me off right, I'm not ...

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