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United States v. Redwood

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 11, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
VANDETTA REDWOOD

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Hon. Amy J. St. Eve United States District Court Judge

         Defendant Vandetta Redwood (“Defendant”) moves the Court to suppress identification evidence and testimony as fruit of an unlawful arrest in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights and unnecessarily suggestive law enforcement identification procedures. The Court denies Defendant’s motion for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         I. The CPD Investigation and Defendant’s Arrest

         The charges against Defendant are premised on events that took place on April 28, 2014, during a fight among high school students. Defendant is charged with giving D.P., her then 14-year old cousin, a loaded firearm and telling her to shoot another 14-year old girl. D.P. then used the firearm to shoot two teenage girls, killing one of them.

         Various eyewitnesses identified D.P. as the shooter. Shortly after the shooting, a police officer stopped D.P. a few blocks away from the scene because she matched the description of the shooter. Eyewitnesses identified D.P. as the shooter, and CPD officers took her into custody. At the police station, D.P. waived her Miranda rights. Officers then interviewed her with her mother present and videotaped the interview. During the interview, D.P. admitted to shooting the two girls. D.P. admitted that Donnell Flora (her uncle), Defendant Redwood, whom she referred to as her “auntie, ” her cousin and her friends went to the scene of the shooting with her. She said that Donnell Flora initially gave her the gun, and then Redwood took the gun from her. D.P.’s mother then interjected and said “and Vendetta [Redwood] passed it back to you.” Although D.P.’s mother did not witness this event because she was not present at the scene of the shooting, she told the officers that D.P.’s friends and family members who were present at the scene had told her what had happened.

         After the interview, the officers and D.P.’s mother left the police station. A large group of D.P.’s friends and family had gathered outside the station, including Defendant Redwood. D.P.’s mother then identified Defendant Redwood, and the police arrested her. The police also arrested D.P.’s uncle, Donnell Flora.

         The police then took Defendant Redwood’s arrest photo and led her to an interview room where they read her her Miranda rights. Defendant waived her rights and spoke to the officers. During the questioning, she denied that she was at the scene of the shooting. Defendant said “I came down there later on that day after it [the shooting] happen.”

         Soon after the shooting, the police also received a cell phone video of the incident that a witness filmed. (GX4.) The police and the government showed a number of witnesses both an unaltered version of the video and a slowed version, one-fourth the speed of the unaltered. The Court has observed both videos numerous times.

         II. Defendant’s Federal Charges

         The federal government began investigating Defendant in approximately December 2014. On February 10, 2016, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment (the “Indictment”) against Defendant. (R. 1.) Count One charges Defendant with transferring a handgun and ammunition, namely, a loaded Smith & Wesson, Model 642 Airweight, .38 special caliber revolver, bearing serial number CRZ6547, to Minor A, knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that Minor A was a juvenile, in that she had not attained eighteen years of age, and knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that Minor A intended to carry and otherwise possess and discharge and otherwise use the handgun and ammunition in the commission of a crime of violence, namely first degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and aggravated discharge of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(x)(1)(A), (B) and 924(a)(6)(B)(ii). (Id.) Count Two charges Defendant with knowingly possessing in and affecting interstate commerce a firearm, namely, the same handgun identified above in Count One, which firearm had traveled in interstate commerce prior to Defendant’s possession of the firearm, within a distance of 1, 000 feet of the grounds of Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School and Visitation Catholic School, a place that Defendant knew and had reasonable cause to believe was a school zone, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(q)(2)(A) and 924(a)(4). (Id.)

         ANALYSIS

         Defendant moves the Court to suppress “trial testimony about out-of-court and in-court identifications, [1)] on the ground that identification evidence as [sic] the fruit of an unlawful arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment and [2)] on the grounds that law enforcement officers used identification procedures that were unnecessarily suggestive.” (R. 45 at 1.) The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         I. Defendant’s Arrest was Supported ...


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