United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
M. YANDLE United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendant Mario Rodriguez-Escalera's Motion
to Suppress Evidence (Doc. 60). For the following reasons,
Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
October 4, 2016, at approximately 3:01 p.m., Illinois State
Trooper Kenneth Patterson was travelling east on Interstate
70 near milepost 21 when he observed a car ahead of him
change lanes without signaling. He pulled alongside the car
and noted that the vehicle was occupied by the driver
(Defendant Blanca Silvia Moran) and a front seat passenger
(Defendant Mario Rodriguez-Escalera). Patterson pulled the
car over and initiated a traffic stop.
approached the passenger side of the vehicle and asked Moran
for her license. Moran gave him her driver's license,
proof of registration and proof of insurance. Her
documentation indicated that she was from Paramount,
California, which is near Los Angeles. Patterson informed her
that he was going to issue her a warning and requested that
she come to his squad car. According to Patterson, it is his
routine practice to bring drivers detained for traffic stops
because it makes people more comfortable with police.
Moran went to his squad car, Patterson returned to her
vehicle and asked Rodriguez-Escalera for his identification.
While Rodriguez-Escalera retrieved his identification,
Patterson asked him where he and Moran were going.
Rodriguez-Escalera responded that they were going to
Pennsylvania and handed him two Mexican identification cards.
Patterson gave one of the ID cards back to Rodriguez-Escalera
and returned to his squad car with the other.
he was reviewing Defendants' documentation, Patterson
questioned Moran. She told him that Rodriguez-Escalera was
her fiancé, that she worked as an insurance broker and
tax professional and that they were coming from California
and going to New York. When Patterson asked Moran where
specifically they were going in New York, she stated,
“I want to see Manhattan, Brooklyn, the what do you
call it, and uh, Statue of Liberty.” She also stated
that she had not secured lodging in New York.
records check revealed that Moran's driver's license
was suspended. Patterson informed Moran that her license was
suspended and questioned her about it. She stated that she
had recently received a ticket in California, but was not
aware that her license was suspended. Patterson asked her if
Rodriguez-Escalera had a license and she stated that he had a
Mexican license. Patterson then returned to Moran's car
to obtain Rodriguez-Escalera's driver's license. As
he examined it, Patterson asked Rodriguez-Escalera where in
Pennsylvania they were going and for how long. He responded
that he did not know where in the state they were going and
that the trip was to last “one or two days.” He
also stated that they were not going to visit family or
friends and had no additional stops planned.
then returned to his car and told Moran that
Rodriguez-Escalera would need to drive and that he was going
to issue her a ticket for driving on a suspended license. He
asked her whether they were going any place other than New
York and she said they were not. Patterson then asked Moran
if Rodriguez-Escalera knew they were going to New York. Moran
replied that he thought they were going to Pennsylvania, but
that she was going to surprise him with a trip to New York.
She also told Patterson that she planned for them to be on
the trip for two weeks.
21 minutes after initiating the traffic stop, Patterson
requested a K-9 unit to the scene. A few seconds after the
K-9 unit arrived, Patterson handed Moran the warnings and
citation and stated, “He's [Mario] going to drive
from here. However, there is a K-9 behind us that is going to
walk around the vehicle real quick for us. So can you close
the door real quick? The dog can be aggressive and I
don't want him to bite you, okay." The dog completed
its sniff without alerting. Patterson returned to his squad
car where Moran remained detained and the following
conversation then took place:
Patterson: Ma'am, is there anything illegal in the car at
all that I should know about?
Patterson: Okay. Um… Moran: What?
Patterson: Just making sure there is nothing illegal. Just
making sure that you guys are actually going to where
you're going to, okay? And not Pennsylvania...you're
actually going to New York?
Moran: Yes, New York.
Patterson: What kind of possessions do you have in your
vehicle, right now, ...