United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Suppress filed by
Defendant Carlos Childress (Doc. 73). For the reasons stated
below, the motion is denied.
October 22, 2015, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms,
and Explosives (“ATF”) enlisted an undercover
informant to purchase a “Glock” .357 caliber
pistol from Defendant Carlos Childress (Doc. 73). The
informant was unsuccessful. A few days later, the informant
tried again of his own accord, unbeknownst to the ATF (Doc.
73). Instead of purchasing the Glock, however, the informant
stole it from Childress (Doc. 73). Nearly three months later,
on January 12, 2016, ATF agents went to the residence of
Childress's grandmother, where he often stayed (Doc. 73).
The agents searched Childress's bedroom and found
ammunition and Tramadol pills (Doc. 73). The agents requested
to meet with Childress, and later that same day, his
grandmother drove him to the ATF office in Fairview Heights,
Illinois (Doc. 73).
at the ATF office, Childress gave a videotaped statement, a
copy of which was provided to the Court. Childress
acknowledged that he agreed to be interviewed of his own free
will. He stated that he had not been forced, pressured, or
coerced in any way to attend the interview, and he
acknowledged that no one had promised him anything in
exchange for the interview. Childress was told that he was
not under arrest, but the agents nevertheless advised him of
his rights. Childress was provided with a Statement of Rights
form, which he read aloud, initialing each line as he read.
Specifically, he read aloud that he had the right to remain
silent; that anything he said could be used against him in
court; that he had the right to talk to a lawyer and to have
a lawyer present during questioning; that a lawyer would be
appointed for him if he could not afford a lawyer; and that
if he decided to answer questions without a lawyer present,
he had the right to stop answering anytime. Childress also
read aloud and signed a waiver form that stated: “I
have read this statement of my rights or it has been read to
me, and I understand these rights. At this time I am willing
to answer questions without a lawyer present. No promises or
threats have been made to me, and no pressure or force of any
kind has been used against me.”
the pertinent portion of the interview, the ATF agents showed
Childress a picture of a firearm and asked him if it looked
familiar. Childress answered in the affirmative and stated
that it resembled a firearm he had received from his
“cousin, ” who went by the name “Doo Man,
” in early October 2015. Childress stated that
“Doo Man” was trying to get some money for his
son, so he gave Childress the gun to sell. Childress claimed
that he agreed to take the gun and sell it because he was
concerned that “Doo Man” was making irresponsible
and reckless choices and was going to get into trouble.
Childress stated that he attempted to sell the firearm on or
about October 24, 2015, but the potential buyer robbed him at
gunpoint and took the firearm. After the interview was over,
Childress left the ATF office.
March 22, 2016, the grand jury returned a Superseding
Indictment charging Childress with being a felon in
possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1) (Doc. 15). (Childress has a previous felony
conviction for residential burglary). Childress filed a
pretrial motion on July 4, 2016, seeking to suppress his
videotaped statements (73). The Government filed a timely
response in opposition to the motion (Doc. 86).
seeks to suppress his videotaped statement on the ground that
it was coerced in violation of the Fifth Amendment's
privilege against self-incrimination and guarantee of due
process (Doc. 73). In the alternative, Childress argues that
if the Court determines his confession was voluntary, that it
is nevertheless unreliable (Doc. 73).
motion to suppress can be decided without a hearing because a
copy of Childress's videotaped statement was provided to
the Court, and there does not appear to be any disputed
issues of material fact (see Docs. 73, 86).
United States v. Greve, 490 F.3d 566, 572 (7th Cir.
2007) (In order to obtain an evidentiary hearing on a motion
to suppress, a defendant is “required to provide
sufficient information to enable the court to conclude that a
substantial claim was presented and that there were disputed
issues of material fact which would affect the outcome of the
motion.”) (citation and internal alterations omitted).
confession is voluntary and admissible if, ‘in the
totality of circumstances, it is the product of a rational
intellect and free will and not the result of physical abuse,
psychological intimidation, or deceptive interrogation
tactics that have overcome the defendant's free
will.'” United States v. Stadfeld, 689
F.3d 705, 709 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting United States v.
Vallar, 635 F.3d 271, 282 (7th Cir. 2011)). In
determining whether a defendant's confession was
voluntary, the court analyzes coercion “from the
perspective of a reasonable person in the position of the
suspect” and considers the following factors:
“the defendant's age, education, intelligence
level, and mental state; the length of the defendant's
detention; the nature of the interrogations; the inclusion of
advice about constitutional rights; and the use of physical
punishment, including deprivation of food or sleep.”
United States v. Sturdivant, 796 F.3d 690, 695 (7th
Cir. 2015) (citing United States v. Huerta, 239 F.3d
865, 871 (7th Cir. 2001)).
argues that his statement was involuntary because his
interview included “discussions concerning his
opportunity to benefit from providing an incriminating
statement” (Doc. 73, p. 3). “A false promise of
lenience is ‘an example of forbidden [interrogation]
tactics, for it would impede the suspect in making an
informed choice as to whether he was better off confessing or
clamming up.'” United States v. Stadfeld,
689 F.3d 705, 709 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting United States
v. Baldwin, 60 F.3d 363, 365 (7th Cir. 1995))
(alteration in original). Childress does not identify any
specific statements that were made or even provide any
details about the general nature of the discussion or the
benefit that he may have received. As previously mentioned,
Childress's interview was videotaped. The Court has
reviewed the video; no overt promises of leniency were made.
The Court also cannot identify any statement, comment, or
question that could reasonably be construed as an implicit
promise of leniency. In fact, Childress acknowledged that no
one had promised him anything in exchange for the interview.
To the extent the alleged statements occurred off-camera,
Childress has not indicated what those statements may have
been. This argument is simply too vague and undeveloped to
warrant a pre-trial hearing or justify suppression. See,
e.g., United States v. Hussein, 664 F.3d 155, 161 n.2
(7th Cir. 2011) (“It is not enough to mention a
possible argument in the most skeletal way, leaving the court
to do counsel's work, create the ossature for the
argument, and put flesh on its bones.”) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted); United States v.
Toro, 359 F.3d 879, 885 (7th Cir. 2004) (holding that
defendant has “the burden of presenting
‘definite, specific, detailed, and nonconjectural
facts' to establish that there was a disputed issue of
material fact as to the voluntariness of his
confession.” (quoting United States v.
Rodriguez, 69 F.3d 136, 141 (7th Cir. 1995)).
also argues that his statement was involuntary because he
“was in fear of his grandmother being charged with some
sort of crime if he did not tell the ATF agents what they
wanted to hear” (Doc. 73, p. 4). But Childress does not
explain what led him to believe that his grandmother would be
arrested if he did not make an incriminating statement
(see Doc. 73). After reviewing the videotaped
interview, the Court can say with confidence that the agents
never said anything to Childress that would reasonably lead
him to believe that. Simply put, it is not at all clear why
Childress held this belief. And there is nothing that
suggests a reasonable person in Childress's position
would have felt the same way. Accordingly, the Court
concludes that Childress's subjective belief, without any
evidence of actual improper police conduct, is insufficient
to demonstrate that his statement was involuntary. United
States v. Stadfeld, 689 F.3d 705, 709 (7th Cir. 2012)
(“[C]oercive police activity is a necessary predicate
to [a] finding that a confession is not voluntary within the
meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment.” (citing United States v. Huerta,
239 F.3d 865, 871 (7th Cir. 2001))).
the Court finds that Childress's confession was voluntary
and not coerced. Childress claims that even if the Court
determines his confession was voluntary, it was nevertheless
unreliable (Doc. 73, p. 4). The reliability of a confession,
however, is a question for the jury. Crane v.
Kentucky,476 U.S. 683, 688 (1986). Therefore, ...