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United States v. Martindale

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 11, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL WILLIAM MARTINDALE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Martindale is charged with three counts of criminal activity: (1) Count One alleges that he possessed a sawed-off shotgun; (2) Count Two alleges that he possessed firearms despite being a drug user; and (3) Count Three alleges that he possessed methamphetamine and heroin. All three charges stem from a search of an automobile he was driving - the search turned up the firearms, illegal drugs, and various other items indicative of drug distribution.

         Martindale has moved to suppress the firearms and heroin on the ground that the search of the car violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The Court heard testimony on August 11, 2016, and took the matter under advisement. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will deny the motion to suppress.

         FACTUAL FINDINGS

         On June 19, 2015, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Foster had a felony arrest warrant for Brook Black, who was believed to be driving a grey Dodge truck. Over his radio, Lt. Foster heard dispatch call Deputy Hillier to a residence at 1880 S. Falcon Drive in Ammon, Idaho to serve an arrest warrant on defendant Michael Martindale. Dispatch said that Martindale might be driving a grey, 1997 Dodge Dakota pickup truck, the same truck Lt. Foster was looking for. Because Lt. Foster and Deputy Hillier were both in the vicinity of 1880 S. Falcon Dr., they decided to stake out the residence together.

         They parked in different locations and watched the residence hoping to catch either Black or Martindale. Deputy Hillier was located near the intersection of 17th Street and Falcon. Eventually, Lt. Foster observed two males exit the residence at 1880 S. Falcon and get into the Dodge truck. One male had carried a black bag from the house and placed it into the back of the truck before getting into the driver’s seat.

         Although the driver was subsequently identified as Martindale, Lt. Foster was unable to identify the driver from his vantage point. Lt. Foster advised Deputy Hillier of what he observed. Martindale drove the Dodge pickup north on Falcon towards 17th Street, where Deputy Hillier was located.

         While Martindale was waiting at the intersection in traffic, his window was down, and Deputy Hillier was able to get a good look at him. Using Martindale’s driver’s license photograph, Deputy Hillier positively identified Martindale as the driver of the Dodge truck. When Martindale turned west on 17th, Deputy Hillier pulled out onto the road behind him.

         Martindale immediately moved into the turn lane and pulled into the parking lot of a gas station connected to a supermarket. Deputy Hillier activated his overhead lights and stopped Martindale in the gas station parking lot.

         Deputy Hillier approached the driver’s door and immediately had Martindale exit the vehicle. He advised Martindale that he was under arrest for driving with a suspended license and advised him of the three warrants for his arrest. Martindale admitted he did not have a driver’s license and that he had warrants for his arrest. Deputy Hillier secured Martindale in his patrol car.

         Martindale’s passenger did not have any identification. Deputy Hillier called for a tow company to respond for the truck and began a vehicle inventory. In the bed of the truck, Deputy Hillier located a black bag containing a sawed off shotgun and two kinds of ammunition. Also in the bag were gloves, an empty holster, and a hunting knife. Inside the driver’s door, Deputy Hillier located controlled substances and other material that appeared to be related to drug trafficking.

         Because Deputy Hillier had discovered evidence of crimes, he then began to interrogate Martindale about what he had found. The audio portion of the video reveals that Deputy Hillier listed for Martindale the items he found - an illegal shotgun and drugs among them - and noted that he had three warrants for Martindale’s arrest and that Martindale was driving without a license. He tells Martindale that the officers had been watching his home, saw him come out with a bag get into his truck and leave, and that consequently the traffic stop was made and “we are having this conversation.”

         Deputy Hillier testified that he when he decided to impound the vehicle, he was following the official towing policy of the police department contained in Exhibit 1. ...


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