US v. Warren McDaniel
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 1:16-cr-00052-IMK-MJA-1 Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. .. [17-4098]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff - Appellee,
WARREN LEE MCDANIEL,
Defendant - Appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, at
Clarksburg. Irene M. Keeley, District Judge. (1:16-cr-00052-IMK-MJA-1)
Submitted: August 1, 2017
Decided: August 10, 2017
Before MOTZ, KING, and KEENAN, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
L. Richard Walker, Senior Litigator, Clarksburg, West Virginia; Kristen Leddy, Research
and Writing Specialist, Martinsburg, West Virginia, for Appellant. Traci M. Cook,
Assistant United States Attorney, Clarksburg, West Virginia, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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Warren Lee McDaniel appeals his conviction and sentence of 36 months of
imprisonment for being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2) (2012). He contends that the district court erred in denying his
motion to suppress evidence of his name and the firearm pursuant to the inevitable
discovery doctrine. We affirm.
When reviewing a district court’s ruling on a motion to suppress, we review factual
findings for clear error and legal determinations de novo, construing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the prevailing party, here, the government. United States v. Lull,
824 F.3d 109, 114-15 (4th Cir. 2016).
The Fourth Amendment protects “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S.
Const. amend. IV. Under the exclusionary rule, the government may not use evidence
obtained as a result of an illegal search. United States v. Bullette, 854 F.3d 261, 265 (4th
Cir. 2017). However, the exclusionary rule is subject to certain exceptions. Id. In
particular, under the “inevitable discovery” doctrine, the government may use “information
obtained from an otherwise unreasonable search if it can establish by a preponderance of
the evidence that law enforcement would have ultimately or inevitably discovered the
evidence by lawful means,” id. (internal quotation marks omitted)—that is, “the fact
making discovery inevitable must arise from circumstances other than those disclosed by
the illegal search itself.” United States v. Thomas, 955 F.2d 207, 211 (4th Cir. 1992)
(internal quotation marks omitted). “Whether law enforcement would have inevitably
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discovered the evidence by lawful means is a question of fact, and we thus accord great
deference to the district court’s findings.” Bullette, 854 F.3d at 265.
McDaniel contends that the district court was required to first find that his detention
was unlawful under the Fourth Amendment before finding that the inevitable discovery
doctrine applied, and further argues that there was no evidence to support the court’s
conclusion that the inevitable discovery doctrine applied. We conclude, however, that the
cases McDaniel cites do not support his argument. For example, United States v. Allen,
159 F.3d 832 (4th Cir. 1998), does not require the district court to first make a finding of
illegality before ruling on the applicability of the inevitable discovery doctrine. Rather,
Allen only requires that the district court identify the chain of facts necessary to support
application of the doctrine, id. at 842-43, which is exactly what the district court did here:
the police officer investigating an alleged assault had received consent to enter Ginger
Goodman’s residence and thus was lawfully present inside Goodman’s home. Because the
officer was at Goodman’s home to investigate an alleged assault, and because McDaniel,
who the officer encountered in the home holding a firearm, fit the description of the alleged
assailant, the officer would have asked McDaniel for his name. Furthermore, the officer
saw the firearm in McDaniel’s hand before he handcuffed McDaniel, and he knew that a
person named Warren McDaniel had a felony conviction. Based on these facts, we
conclude that it was inevitable that the officer would have discovered McDaniel’s identity
through lawful means, and McDaniel’s arguments to the contrary are unavailing. We
conclude the district court did not clearly err in finding the inevitable discovery doctrine
applied, and it thus did not err in denying McDaniel’s motion to suppress.
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Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court. We dispense with oral
argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials
before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
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