United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case, the Government has charged Timothy Zachary Green with
one count of Felon in Possession of a Firearm. ECF No. 1 at
Presently pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion
to Suppress Evidence. ECF No. 30. The motion has been fully
briefed, and an evidentiary hearing was held on July 20,
2018. ECF No. 44. For reasons explained below,
Defendant's Motion is denied.
29, 2017, the Defendant was arrested pursuant to an arrest
warrant for a recent armed home invasion, and a firearm was
recovered from the area where the Defendant was arrested. On
November 6, 2017, the Government filed the Indictment in this
case, charging Defendant with one count of Felon in
Possession of a Firearm. ECF No. 1 at 1. On April 20, 2018,
Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence, which sought
the suppression of the firearm. ECF No. 30. The Government
opposed this motion, ECF No. 33, and an evidentiary hearing
was held on July 20, 2018. ECF No. 44. At that hearing, the
Government presented one witness, Sergeant David Hansen, a
police officer with the Prince George's County (the
“County”) Police Department. Hansen is one of the
officers who was involved in the arrest of the Defendant, and
who recovered the firearm in question. When the Defendant was
arrested, Hansen was the supervisor of the County's
District 5 Special Assignments Team (“SAT”). The
Defendant also presented one witness, his cousin,
Alfred William Yates Jr., who owns the property where
Defendant was arrested. The Court found the witnesses to be
credible, and finds the facts to be consistent with the
testimony summarized below and in the discussion that
June 2017,  a detective forwarded Hansen an arrest
warrant for Defendant regarding a recent armed home invasion
that had occurred on June 25, 2017, and requested the
SAT's assistance in apprehending Defendant. Hansen
directed his officers to conduct a criminal history check for
Defendant, and to search for any known previous addresses.
Hansen's officers informed him that Defendant had a prior
felony conviction for a different home invasion.
29, Hansen received a call from a member of the United States
Marshals Service, Detective Blount, who had located Defendant
driving in a sedan and was following him. Blount followed the
Defendant in his vehicle, and continued to communicate with
Hansen via their police radios. Blount relayed that the
Defendant was driving erratically. At one point, Defendant
stopped his vehicle, got out, and confronted another driver
in what was described as a “road rage incident.”
Defendant eventually got back into his car and drove to 6102
Auth Road. When he arrived at the property, Defendant parked
his car near the driveway, walked onto the property and sat
down at an open-air “gazebo” that was located to
the left of the house in the yard. Detective Blount parked his
unmarked vehicle near the property to continue to surveil the
Defendant. The Defendant was seated in front of a table under
the gazebo along with Yates.
point, Hansen directed officers in marked cars to park near
the front and rear of the property, to cover any possible
exits. A helicopter flew over the property to give additional
surveillance. The officers blocked in the Defendant's
parked car with their cars, and officers approached the
property simultaneously from the front and rear. Hansen got
out of his car, and began to approach the front of a fence
that ran along the property; Hansen was the first officer to
reach the property and moved quickly along the fence until he
arrived at a position where he could fully see the Defendant
seated in the gazebo. As he was approaching the fence, Hansen
announced the presence of the officers, that the Defendant
was under arrest, and that he needed to put his hands above
his head. The Defendant immediately stood up and looked
around at the officers and the helicopter overhead. He
reached into his shorts and pulled out a 9mm handgun,
although he was holding it in a non-threatening manner. At
this point, Hansen yelled out “gun!” to the other
officers nearby him at the front of the property, who had not
yet gone over the fence. Hansen was unsure if the officers in
the rear of the house had entered the property at this point.
After he yelled “gun!”, the two officers at the
front of the property approached the property and went over
the fence. At this point, the Defendant placed the firearm on
a shelf in the corner of the gazebo, approximately four feet
off the ground. The Defendant then began backing away from
the gazebo across the yard, towards a gate in the
property's fence. Several officers then apprehended the
Defendant in the yard, roughly 25 feet from where he had
discarded the firearm. At this point, still on the outside of
the fence, Hansen holstered his weapon, jumped over the
fence, and walked to the gazebo to retrieve the
Defendant's discarded firearm. During this entire time,
Yates remained seated in the gazebo, several feet from the
firearm. Hansen testified that he went directly to the
firearm to secure the scene and ensure officer safety.
cousin, Alfred William Yates Jr., the owner of the property
at 6102 Auth Road, also testified regarding the events of
June 29, 2017, and his relationship with the Defendant. Yates
explained that the Defendant comes to Yates's house once
or twice a week, and that when he visits they sit, talk, eat,
drink, or play games like dominoes; the Defendant has
occasionally brought friends to Yates's house with him.
The Defendant has been visiting Yates for the past three or
four years. However, Yates clarified that while there are
three bedrooms in his house, the Defendant does not reside at
the house and has never slept over at the house. The
Defendant had free rein of the house when he visited, but did
not store any items there (e.g., food in the fridge or
clothes in the closet). Yates testified that before the
officers arrived on June 29, he was not aware that the
Defendant brought a firearm to Yates's property and that
he never gave him permission to do so.
Defendant argues in his Motion to Suppress Evidence that the
police officers' entrance to Yates's property and
subsequent seizure of the firearm violated his Fourth
Amendment rights, and that the firearm should be suppressed.
ECF No. 30.
Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects “[t]he
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures.” Carpenter v. United States, 138
S.Ct. 2206, 2213 (2018); U.S. Const. amend. IV. The
“basic purpose of this Amendment . . . is to safeguard
the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary
invasions by governmental officials.” Id.
(quotation omitted). “It is a basic principle of Fourth
Amendment law . . . that searches and seizures inside a home
without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.”
Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 459 (2011) (internal
quotation omitted). The Supreme Court, however, has clarified
a number of “reasonable exceptions” to the
warrant requirement. Id. at 459.
where officers conduct an unreasonable search or seizure,
only the individual whose Fourth Amendment rights were
violated may object. That is because “[t]he right to be
free from an unreasonable search is personal in nature and
cannot be vicariously asserted.” United States v.
Gray, 491 F.3d 138, 144 (4th Cir. 2007) (citing
Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 133-34 (1978)).
“A search can therefore be unconstitutional with
respect to one person, yet the evidence obtained therefrom
admissible against a second person.” Id. at
defendant seeking to suppress evidence that is seized
pursuant to a search of another individual's property
must show “not only that the search of [the property]
was illegal, but also that he had a legitimate expectation of
privacy in [the property].” Rawlings v.
Kentucky, 448 U.S. 98, 104 (1980). Where an individual
seeks to suppress evidence that was obtained from the search
of a home in which the individual was temporarily located,
“legitimate presence on the premises of the place
searched, standing alone, is not enough to accord a
reasonable expectation of privacy . . . .” Byrd v.
United States, 138 S.Ct. 1518 (2018). In Minnesota
v. Olson and Minnesota v. Carter, the Supreme
Court established the outer boundaries of when such an
individual does or does not have an expectation of privacy.
In Minnesota v. Olson, the Court found that a
defendant's “status as overnight guest is alone
enough to show that he had an expectation of privacy in the
home [that was searched].” 495 U.S. 91, 96-97 (1990).
See also Gray, 491 F.3d at 144 (“The Supreme
Court has long held that the relatives of home owners who
regularly reside at the residence are protected by the Fourth
Amendment.”). On the other hand, in Minnesota v.
Carter, the Court found that defendants had no
expectation of privacy where they were present on property
“for a business transaction, ” “were only
in the home a matter of hours, ” and did not have a
previous relationship with the homeowner. 525 U.S. 83, 90
the facts of this case lie somewhere in between the extremes
of Olson and Carter, the Court concludes
that the Defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of
privacy in Yates's property. On the one hand, the
Defendant was at Yates's property for more than a simple
“business transaction” and had a preexisting
relationship with the property and its owner. He had been
coming to the property for at least three years, visited at
least once a week, his visits were social in nature, and he
had a familial relationship with Yates. Yates explained that
the Defendant had free rein of the house when he was there.
However, it is undeniable that the Defendant was not an
overnight guest at the time of the search, had never spent
the night, did not store any personal possessions on the
property and had not been given permission to bring the
illegal firearm onto the property. See Craddock v.
Fisher, No. 12-430, 2015 WL 1825720, at *7- 8 (E.D.Va.
April 21, 2015) (analyzing Fourth Amendment claim in civil
suit and finding that plaintiff did not have reasonable
expectation of privacy in grandmother's house where he
visited and engaged in criminal conduct but did not reside.).
Cf. United States v. Pollard, 215 F.3d 643 (6th Cir.
2000) (reasoning that defendant did have reasonable
expectation of privacy in property searched where he
“had been staying at the home earlier in the week, . .