United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Beaumont Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
JUDGE ON THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
HAWTHORN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the undersigned is a “Motion to Suppress”
(Doc. No. 22) filed by the Defendant, Wayne Egins, Jr.
(“Egins”). The United States filed a response to the
Defendant's motion (Doc. No. 25), and the undersigned
magistrate judge heard testimony and oral argument on March
21, 2018. The undersigned finds that the search and seizure
were lawful. Accordingly, the undersigned recommends denying
Egins' “Motion to Suppress.”
the hearing on the instant motion held on March 21, 2018,
Detective Michael Roberts (“Roberts”) and
Detective Ronnie Freeman (“Freeman”) with the
Narcotics and Vice Division of the Beaumont Police Department
testified to the following facts and supporting exhibits: on
December 27, 2016, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Roberts was
conducting surveillance of a suspected drug house on Elder
Street in Beaumont, Texas. At 8:58 p.m., Roberts saw a green
Saturn Ion car driven by Egins leave the location. Freeman,
who was working in conjunction with Roberts, began to follow
Egins on Cleveland Street in an unmarked grey Nissan SUV.
Freeman observed Egins turn on his turn signal only 10-15
feet before the stop sign to take a left on Fillmore Street.
Freeman testified that Egins committed a traffic violation
because he failed to signal 100 feet before the turn. Freeman
used his police radio to notify another officer in the area
of the violation-Officer Kelly Kvarme (“Kvarme”).
in a marked patrol car, then began to follow Egins and
Freeman, but Freeman continued straight instead of turning on
Fillmore to follow Egins. According to a dash cam video
(located in Kvarme's patrol car), corroborated by
Kvarme's testimony in court, while following Egins on
Fillmore Street, he observed Egins veer to the left side of
the street and then drive through the intersection of
Fillmore Street and Ironton Avenue on the wrong side of the
road. (See Govt. Ex. 9.) Kvarme then activated his
lights and Egins veered back to the right side of the road
and almost struck a parked truck before stopping at the next
intersection. (Id.) Kvarme testified that driving on
the wrong side of the road and also traveling on the left
side of the road within 100 feet of an intersection are both
activated his emergency lights, and Egins pulled over. As he
approached the vehicle, Kvarme noticed an odor of marijuana,
and when he asked Egins for his driver's license, Egins
stated, “you might as well put me in handcuffs.”
Upon exiting the vehicle, Kvarme noticed in plain view a
digital scale commonly used in the distribution of illegal
narcotics. (Govt. Ex. 3.) Egins also voluntarily told the
officers that there was “weed” in the car. Kvarme
and his partner then performed a search of Egins' car and
discovered synthetic marijuana, marijuana, methamphetamine,
and a loaded .40 caliber firearm. (See Govt. Exs.
4-8.) On December 6, 2017, Egins was charged in a two-count
indictment for possession of a Schedule II controlled
substance (methamphetamine) and possession of a firearm in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. (Doc. No. 2); 21
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).
motion, Egins asks to suppress all the evidence seized as a
result of a violation of his rights under the Fourth and
Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution. (Doc. No.
22.) Specifically, Egins argues the traffic stop was an
unreasonable seizure because it was not based upon a
reasonable suspicion that Egins committed a traffic
RELEVANT LAW AND DISCUSSION
Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable
searches and seizures. Traffic stops are considered seizures
within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Delaware v.
Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 653 (1979). Because traffic stops
are considered more similar to investigative detentions than
formal arrests, the legality of traffic stops for Fourth
Amendment purposes is analyzed under the standard articulated
in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Terry
requires that courts apply a two-step “reasonable
suspicion” inquiry to:
1) determine whether the officer's action was justified
at its inception, and
2) determine whether the search or seizure was reasonably
related in scope to the circumstances that justified the stop
in the first place.
United States v. Zamora, 661 F.3d 200, 204 (5th Cir.
2011). The government bears the burden of establishing the
two elements under Terry by a preponderance of the
evidence. United States v. McMahan, No. 3:07-CR-152,
2007 WL 2470999, at *4 (N. D. Tex. Aug. 30, 2007) (citing
United States v. Sanchez-Pena, 336 F.3d
431, 437 (5th Cir. 2003)).
First Prong of Terry
United States v. Lopez-Moreno, 420 F.3d 420, 430
(5th Cir. 2005), the Fifth Circuit succinctly ...