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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 Manuel Gonzalez's Motion to Suppress Statements (d/e 47). 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, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). Moreover, Agent Russ Belcher did not unconstitutionally induce Defendant Gonzalez's incriminating statements.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant Gonzalez and his uncle, co-defendant Noe Sanchez, a.k.a. Epimenio Sanchez Gonzales, 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. Co-defendant Sanchez 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 Defendant at the address.

The Agents advised Defendant that they were looking for marijuana plants. Defendant consented to the Agents searching the property. Next to a shed that appeared to be the living quarters of Gonzalez and co-defendant Sanchez, 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, Defendants denied having any knowledge about the marijuana crop.

A. Defendant Gonzalez Stated that He and Co-defendant Sanchez Took Care of the Marijuana Field in St. Anne, Illinois

Agent Belcher began the interview with Defendant, a Mexican National and 22 years old at the time, by apologizing for making Defendant wait. Agent Belcher said to Defendant, "These other interviews have been taking some time, getting a lot of information from them...." See d/e 39 at 1. Agent Belcher then asked Defendant booking questions such as Defendant's name, age, address, phone number, education history, and whether Defendant could read English. Defendant spelled his name orally, told Agent Belcher he was 22 years old, stated his current address in Kankakee, Illinois, told Agent Belcher he stayed at the property in St. Anne, Illinois once or twice per week, and gave Agent Belcher his phone number. Defendant also told Agent Belcher that he had completed twelve years of schooling in Mexico and that he could read English.

Agent Belcher then read the Kankakee County Sheriff's Police Video/Audio Recorded Interview Consent form as follows:

S/A Belcher: So, I'm gonna read this out loud. You can read it to yourself as I go but make sure if you have a question, ask me when I'm done talking or just stop me when you have a question. And I'll make sure you understand this ok? Let's go over well so here's what this is. It's side one, it's Kankakee County Sheriff's Police video and audio recorded interview consent form. Today's date, September 22, 2011. You're at the Kankakee County Sheriff's Department of Investigations. It's 6:17 p.m. I, Manuel Gonzalez, am 22 years old. My date of birth is 10-29-88. I live at 7752 South 17000 East Road in Saint Anne, Illinois once or twice a night, just kinda what we figured, throughout the week but you're there throughout the week working correct?
Gonzalez: Yeah.
S/A Belcher: So, your other place you live is on South Skylar but we're not sure the exact address. Your phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. The person to whom I give this voluntary statement is Russell Belcher, having identified himself, myself, as a Kankakee County Sheriff's Deputy. Duly warned and advised me that I know that this interview is being recorded and I voluntarily consent and agree to an audio/video tape recording of this interview. If you do so, initial there and sign there please. Do you understand what this is?
Gonzalez: (Shakes head affirmative).
S/A Belcher: Ok. And I'm gonna sign as a witness down at the bottom.

See d/e 39 at 3-4.

Immediately after this exchange with Defendant, Agent Belcher read the Kankakee County Sheriff's Police Voluntary Statement form to Defendant.

S/A Belcher: And this second set. Once again, Kankakee County Sheriff's Police. It's a voluntary statement form. Today's date, September 22, 2011 at Kankakee County Sheriff's Department up in Investigations. The time right now is 6:17 p.m. I, Manuel Gonzalez, am 22 years old, my date of birth is 10/29/88. I live at 7752 South 17000 East Road in Saint Anne, Illinois. My telephone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. The person to whom I give the following voluntary statement, Russell Belcher, having identified and made myself known as a Kankakee County Sheriff's Deputy, duly warned and advised me and I know that I have the right to remain silent and not make any statement at all nor incriminate myself in any manner whatsoever. If you understand what that right is, initial at number one please. Do you have any questions on that?
Gonzalez: No (shakes head).
S/A Belcher: Ok. Number two, that anything I say can and will be used against me in a court or courts of law for the offense or offenses concerning which this statement is herein made. Do you understand that right?
Gonzalez: (Shakes head in affirmative).
S/A Belcher: Just initial at the number two please. Number three, that I can hire a lawyer of my own choice to be present and advise me before and during this statement. If you understand that, initial on three as well please. Number four, if I am unable to hire a lawyer, I can request and receive appointment of the lawyer by proper authority, without cost or charge to me to be present and advise me before and during this statement. If you understand that initial four please. Once again, sign on the bottom.

See d/e 39 at 4-6. Defendant acknowledged after each warning that he understood his rights. Defendant also initialed a line next to each warning to indicate he understood his rights and signed the bottom of the Voluntary Statement form.

After the warnings were given, Agent Belcher asked Defendant about the marijuana found at the property in St. Anne, Illinois and the shotgun recovered from that property stating:

S/A Belcher: Tell me in your words, why do you think you're up here? Wrong or right. I mean I'll tell you in a minute but I just want to see what you're thinking. Probably we found something out there right?
Gonzalez: Yeah.
S/A Belcher: Did somebody tell you we found some weed or something? Cannabis, marijuana, it's all the same ...

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