United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi
matter is before the Court on Defendant Dan Sharp's
motion to suppress, Doc. 27, and supplemental motion to
suppress, Doc. 44.
August 23, 2018, Sharp was indicted for multiple counts of
possessing controlled substances, possessing controlled
substances with the intent to distribute, and possessing
firearms as a convicted felon. Of the 19 counts within the
indictment, 12 arose from two searches of Sharp and his
vehicle by the DeSoto County Sheriffs Department on February
14, 2018, and April 19, 2018. Sharp challenges the
constitutionality of those searches and moves to suppress the
evidence that was obtained from them.
Court held an evidentiary hearing on March 11, 2019, and
received memorandum briefs from both Sharp and the United
States. For the reasons set forth below, the Court holds that
these motions should be denied, and that the evidence should
not be suppressed.
Standard of Review
Generally, on a motion to suppress, the defendant has the
burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
the evidence in question was obtained in violation of his
constitutional rights. United States v.
Guerrero-Barajas, 240 F.3d 428, 432 (5th Cir. 2001).
However, "[w]hen the government searches or seizes a
defendant without a warrant, the government bears the burden
of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the
search or seizure was constitutional." Id.
determinations and the resolution of conflicting testimony at
a suppression hearing are the responsibility of the district
court as trier of fact." United States v.
Turner, 628 F.2d 461, 465 (5th Cir. 1980). "In an
evidentiary hearing, the Court sits as a finder of fact and
must resolve all disputed issues." United States v.
Lopez, 817 F.Supp.2d 918, 919 fn.2 (S.D.Miss. 2011)
(citing United States v. Willis, 525 F.2d 657, 659
(5th Cir. 1976)).
February 14, 2018, Search
County Sheriffs Deputy Jacob Bramlett testified that on
February 14, 2018, at around 2:00 a.m. he was traveling in
the left-hand lane northbound on Highway 51 in DeSoto County.
Roughly half a car length in front of him in the right
northbound lane was a white Chevrolet Impala. Bramlett
testified that the Impala abruptly swerved into his lane,
nearly hitting his car and causing him to swerve into center
initiated his lights and pulled the Impala over. He
approached the car and found it driven by the defendant, Dan
Sharp. Bramlett testified that Sharp seemed drowsy,
lethargic, and could not keep his eyes open. Bramlett asked
Sharp for his driver's license and proof of insurance.
Sharp told Bramlett that his license had been suspended and
that he had no insurance.
this time Bramlett testified that Sharp kept reaching his
hands in his pocket. Bramlett asked Sharp whether any weapons
were in the vehicle, and Sharp responded that there was
handgun in the car. Bramlett asked Sharp to remove himself
from the vehicle, and Sharp did so. Bramlett testified that
once Sharp was out of the vehicle, he could smell burnt
marijuana coming from his clothing. Bramlett frisked Sharp
and found a pistol magazine in his jacket pocket.
then entered Sharp's car to retrieve the handgun from the
center console. As he did so, he noticed a toiletry bag that
visibly contained marijuana. Bramlett retrieved the bag
opened it up and saw more narcotics. After retrieving the
gun, Bramlett radioed in Sharp's ID and the serial number
on the gun and dispatch informed him that Sharp was a
Deputy Tyler Brown, a DUI enforcement deputy, with the DeSoto
County Sheriffs Department, arrived on the scene. He
testified that he spoke to Sharp in the back of
Bramlett's patrol car. As he opened the door, he too said
that he smelled burnt marijuana coming from Sharp's
clothing. Brown testified that Sharp seemed "out of
it." Brown advised Sharp of his Miranda rights.
During their conversation, Sharp informed Brown that within
the last hour he had used methamphetamine.
testified that he was traveling on Highway 51 to his hotel,
when he noticed that two deputies were behind him. Sharp
testified that he traveled from the intersection of Roscoe
and Highway 51 for approximately six minutes until the
deputies pulled him over.
testified that he had problems with his car, including having
a wire hanging from the back left wheel and some front end
issues. He also testified that it was raining heavily at the
time and that water was pooling in parts of the road making
it difficult to drive. However, Sharp denied ever swerving
further testified that Bramlett approached his car and stated
that he had pulled Sharp over for crossing the yellow center
line. Sharp confirmed that he told Bramlett he had no license
or insurance but denied being under the influence of anything
and denied telling Bramlett about a gun in the car. And