USA v. Lekelford Bohanon
OPINION filed : AFFIRMED, decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 28(g). Boyce F. Martin , Jr., Circuit Judge; Eugene E. Siler , Jr., Circuit Judge and John M. Rogers, AUTHORING Circuit Judge.
Case: 09-6208 Document: 006110939115 Filed: 04/27/2011 Page: 1
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 11a0269n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
Apr 27, 2011
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURT FOR THE EASTERN
DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
BEFORE: MARTIN, SILER and ROGERS, Circuit Judges.
ROGERS, Circuit Judge. Lekelford Bohanon pled guilty to possession with intent to
distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B),
reserving the right to challenge the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized
during a warrantless search of his vehicle. Because the search was based on probable cause
developed during the course of a lawful traffic stop, the motion was properly denied.
At an evidentiary hearing on a suppression motion, Tennessee narcotics agent Mike Patterson
testified that he had smelled marijuana coming from inside Bohanon’s Chevy Tahoe during the stop.
On cross-examination, Patterson clarified that he thought the smell was “raw” marijuana, but
admitted that he had previously testified in a state-court preliminary hearing that it was “burned”
marijuana. The magistrate judge believed Patterson, and found that the subsequent search of the
vehicle—which yielded a kilogram of cocaine—was supported by probable cause. The magistrate
Case: 09-6208 Document: 006110939115 Filed: 04/27/2011 Page: 2
United States v. Bohanon
judge relied in this regard on United States v. Foster, 376 F.3d 577, 588 (6th Cir. 2004), and United
States v. Garza, 10 F.3d 1241, 1246 (6th Cir. 1993). The district court upheld the magistrate’s
credibility determination. A small quantity of “raw” marijuana was also found on Bohanon’s person.
Bohanon’s only argument on appeal is that it was clear error for the district court to find that
Agent Patterson actually smelled marijuana inside the Tahoe. We give deference to a district court’s
credibility assessments in ruling on a motion to suppress. See United States v. Smith, 594 F.3d 530,
535 (6th Cir. 2010). The district court did not clearly err in crediting Patterson’s testimony that he
smelled marijuana. Patterson’s testimony was not controverted at the evidentiary hearing, Bohanon
has not offered evidence to suggest that Patterson’s testimony was false, and some marijuana was
found on Bohanon’s person.
The discrepancy in Patterson’s testimony (“burned” versus “raw”) is not material, “for in any
event, marijuana was detected as emanating from [Bohanon’s] car and was ultimately discovered,”
and “[w]hether it was burnt or fresh-smelling marijuana does not change this.” Foster, 376 F.3d at
584. The district court “quite appropriately did not believe that this discrepancy made any
difference to the fact that marijuana was detected in [Bohanon’s] vehicle.” Id. at 583. Because this
was a “permissible view of the evidence,” Anderson v. City of Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564, 574
(1985), the district court did not clearly err.
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