United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Clifton L. Corker, United States Magistrate Judge.
Alton Maurinse Holston, filed a Motion to Suppress,
addressing the duration of the traffic stop, his admission to
possessing contraband and a firearm in his vehicle, and the
ultimate discovery of additional contraband and firearms in
his hotel room [Doc. 30, 36, 41]. The United States responded
to the motion [Doc. 35, 38, 42]. This matter is before the
Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(b) and the standing orders of
the District Court for a Report and Recommendation.
27, 2019, the Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on
Holston's motion. Present at the hearing were Holston,
his counsel, Tim S. Moore, Esq., and Assistant United States
Attorney Thomas A. McCauley, Esq. Testifying at the hearing
was Johnson City Police Department (“JCPD”)
Officer William Saulsbury. The matter is now ripe for
resolution. For the reasons stated herein, the undersigned
RECOMMENDS the Motion to Suppress [Doc. 30], as supplemented,
[Doc. 36, 41] be GRANTED.
August 15, 2018, the Grand Jury returned a three count
indictment charging Holston with possessing with the intent
to distribute a quantity of crack cocaine in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C), possessing a firearm by a
convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1),
and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking
offense as charged in count one in violation of 18 U.S.C.
Holston's initial Motion to Suppress, he claimed law
enforcement violated the Fourth Amendment in searching his
hotel room in Johnson City, Tennessee, where officers seized
crack cocaine and several firearms [Doc. 30, pg. 1]. He filed
a second motion to suppress also challenging the search of
his vehicle at the scene of the traffic stop that had
occurred earlier [Doc. 36]. Finally, when the Government
noted that his second motion was insufficient to even respond
to, Defendant filed a supplement claiming, among other
things, that he was “seized and held for a period too
long for the purposes of the stop.” [Doc. 41, pg. 2].
He also argued his statement was obtained in violation of
United States responded that the search of the hotel room was
by consent of Defendant's girlfriend who was present in
the room at the time of the search. [Doc. 35, pg. 5]. The
United States also argued that the search of the vehicle was
supported by probable cause as Defendant had admitted to
possessing crack cocaine and a firearm in his vehicle prior
to the search. The United States also argued that the
detention was not unreasonable and that Miranda does
not apply to investigatory detentions.
FINDINGS OF FACT
about 6:40 a.m. on July 12, 2018, dispatch reported that an
employee from the Exxon gas station called to report a
suspicious person near its place of business off Boones Creek
Road in Johnson City, Tennessee. Patrol Officer William
Saulsbury (Saulsbury) of the Johnson City Police Department
responded along with other officers. Saulsbury drove up to
the Shell station across from the Exxon and saw a vehicle
matching the description provided in dispatch. The vehicle
was about to exit the parking lot of the Shell station and
enter onto Boones Creek Road. At 6:41 a.m., Saulsbury
activated his blue lights and pulled up next to the vehicle.
The vehicle stopped. Saulsbury did not witness any traffic
violations. The entire incident was recorded by the
officer's dash cam and admitted into evidence. See
approached the vehicle and asked the driver, later identified
as Holston, to turn off the car and “step on out of the
car for me.” Saulsbury opened the driver's side
door for Holston to exit. Holston complied and stepped out.
Saulsbury then asked for his driver's license and that he
would explain why he stopped him “in just a
minute.” Holston did not have it on his person so he
re-opened the car door to retrieve it. Saulsbury said
“I'll get it for you, where's it at?”
Holston said he would get it. Saulsbury initially permitted
him to look for it, but when he noticed a bag in the car, he
said, “Come on back here, I'll look you up.
Don't dig in the bag. I'll look you up.”
Holston closed the door and followed Saulsbury to the front
of his cruiser. Saulsbury directed Holston to stand in front
of his cruiser. Holston inquired about why he was stopped
again, and Saulsbury said he would explain “in just a
minute.” (DVD 6:41:40). Saulsbury went back to his car
and then returned and asked for Holston's social security
number. He provided it. (DVD 6:41:55). The following colloquy
6:42:00 Saulsbury: What are you doing up here this morning?
Holston: I just stopped at the store and got me some beer and
go back to my room.
Saulsbury: What store did you stop at?
Holston: The Exxon. Then I stopped over there to check on the
air pump but it was out of order
Saulsbury: Check on what?
Holston: Air pump. (pointing to his back tires) check on my
low tires. (inaudible) Headed back to my room. I am staying
right there at Woodsprings.
Saulsbury: How long have you been staying up there for?
Holston: About five weeks now.
Saulsbury: Five weeks?
Saulsbury: What was your social again?
Holston: (Provides his social security number)
Holston: No, I'm from Georgia.
Saulsbury: What brings you up to Tennessee?
Holston: My girlfriend.
Saulsbury: Who's your girlfriend? What's her name?
Saulsbury: What's your last name?
Holston: Holston. H-O-L-S-T-O-N.
Saulsbury: What's your first name?
Holston: Alton. A-L-T-O-N.
Saulsbury: What's your date of birth, Mr. Holston?
Holston: (Provides date of birth).
06:42:58 Saulsbury: Do you work anywhere?
Holston: I just do the Uber when I go to Knoxville and come
back here at home.
Saulsbury: Where's your girlfriend at?
Holston: Up in the room.
Saulsbury: The reason I'm talking to you today is ladies
over there at that Exxon have called in and complained on
you. Said you're acting strangely and they feel like
you're watching them.
Saulsbury: Have you done anything to give them an indication