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United States v. Terry

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 30, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BRIAN D . TERRY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: October 10, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, at Charleston. Joseph R. Goodwin, District Judge (2:16-cr-00175-1)

         ARGUED:

          Lex A. Coleman, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellant.

          Meredith George Thomas, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Christian M. Capece, Federal Public Defender, Jonathan D. Byrne, Research & Writing Specialist, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellant.

          Michael B. Stuart, United States Attorney, Charleston, West Virginia, W. Clinton Carte, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Huntington, West Virginia, for Appellee.

          Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, MOTZ, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.

          GREGORY, Chief Judge.

         Brian D. Terry appeals his conviction for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Terry challenges the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized during a traffic stop. Drug task force agents effectuated the stop through the illegal use of a global positioning system ("GPS") search. The district court found the agents committed a flagrant constitutional violation but ultimately denied Terry's motion to suppress for lack of standing. For the reasons below, we conclude that Terry had standing and that the discovery of the evidence seized during the traffic stop was not sufficiently attenuated from the unlawful GPS search to purge the taint of the unlawful search. We therefore reverse the district court's order denying Terry's motion to suppress, vacate Terry's conviction, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I.

         A.

         The parties do not dispute the facts underlying Terry's motion to suppress. The Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team ("MDENT"), a drug task force operating in Charleston, West Virginia, started investigating Terry when an officer found remnants of drugs in trash placed outside of a residence associated with Terry. From this evidence and other information, an MDENT agent acquired a search warrant for Terry's residence. On April 18, 2016, agents saw Terry leave his residence driving a gold Kia Optima and followed him to a local store. Once Terry had parked, Corporal D.C. Johnson approached the Kia and smelled marijuana. After speaking with Corporal Johnson, Terry turned over a small amount of marijuana and Corporal Johnson searched the car. Nothing further of interest was found, and Corporal Johnson wrote Terry a misdemeanor citation for ...


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