USA v. Michael Schuttpelz
OPINION filed : Schuttpelz's conviction is AFFIRMED, decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Boyce F. Martin , Jr. (authoring) Ralph B. Guy , Jr. and Richard Allen Griffin, Circuit Judges.
File Name: 12a0023n.06
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
Jan 09, 2012
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURT FOR THE EASTERN
DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
MICHAEL L. SCHUTTPELZ,
MARTIN, GUY, and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges.
BOYCE F. MARTIN, JR., Circuit Judge. Michael L. Schuttpelz challenges his four-count
conviction of crossing a state line with intent to engage in a sexual act with a person under age
twelve, and distribution, possession, and transportation of child pornography. Schuttpelz argues that
the district court erred in: (1) denying his motion to suppress evidence gained from an allegedly
unlawful search of his truck under Arizona v. Gant, 129 S. Ct. 1710 (2009); and (2) denying his
request for a jury instruction on entrapment, in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to present
a defense. The Government argues, under Davis v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 2419 (2011), that the
motion to suppress was properly denied because the evidence was obtained in good faith under
existing pre-Gant law, and that the district court properly declined to include an entrapment
USA v. Schuttpelz
instruction because Schuttpelz failed to produce sufficient evidence of the elements of entrapment.
For the reasons below, we AFFIRM.
In early April 2007, a Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent located in Detroit,
Michigan, created an undercover online Yahoo! profile to assist in her investigation of child sexual
exploitation crimes. The profile was that of a fictitious thirty-year-old woman, Shannon, and
included certain subtle suggestions and code words meant to signal an interest in incest and sexual
encounters with children.
On April 7, Schuttpelz, an interstate trucker from Nebraska, contacted the agent posing as
Shannon online and, almost immediately, inquired about her fictitious three- and six-year-old
daughters. The next day Schuttpelz contacted Shannon again and told her he was interested in
having sexual intercourse with her six-year-old child and oral sex with her three-year-old child. The
following day Schuttpelz again conversed with Shannon online. He continued to express an interest
in sexual activities with her children and sent her two photographs of his penis, suggesting that she
show the images to her older daughter.
Over the next two months, Schuttpelz engaged in multiple online chats and phone calls with
the agent posing as Shannon. In these conversations, he continued to discuss his desire to have sex
with Shannon’s young daughters. On April 16, Schuttpelz told Shannon in a phone call that he was
a registered sex offender due to his previous conviction for molesting a thirteen-year-old girl. From
April 21 to May 13, Schuttpelz discussed with Shannon his intention to travel to Michigan, where
she and her children lived, to meet them and have sex with her six-year-old daughter. He also
USA v. Schuttpelz
discussed his interest in having a long-term relationship with Shannon. On May 16 and 17,
Schuttpelz expressed an interest in also having sex with Shannon’s three-year-old daughter. He
again sent the agent posing as Shannon images of his penis and asked her to perform sexual acts on
her six-year-old daughter while showing the child the pictures.
During the same period in which he was conversing with Shannon, Schuttpelz was also
engaged in communications about sexual activities with minors with another undercover law
enforcement officer, a detective from the Macomb County, Michigan, Sheriff’s Office who was
using a fictitious Yahoo! profile to pose as a single mother with a three-year-old son and five-yearold daughter. Schuttpelz first initiated contact with the detective on January 14, 2007. Schuttpelz
told the detective he was interested in having sex with her daughter, and sent her a video of child
pornography and images of child pornography.
Between May 19 and June 1, Schuttpelz told the federal agent posing as Shannon that he had
plans to travel to Michigan for work. He told Shannon that he believed her six-year-old daughter
was ready to have sex.
On May 31, Schuttpelz and Shannon made plans to meet the next day. Before Schuttpelz
arrived, the agent filed a criminal complaint charging him with online enticement and obtained an
arrest warrant. Schuttpelz arrived at the arranged location, a Kmart parking lot in St. Clair Shores,
Michigan, on June 1. Federal agents were waiting at the parking lot to arrest Schuttpelz. After he
had arrived and parked, Schuttpelz exited his tractor-trailer and stepped away from the vehicle. At
that time, the agents placed him under arrest. After arresting Schuttpelz, the agents took him to the
Bureau’s field office in downtown Detroit, Michigan.
USA v. Schuttpelz
An agent involved in the arrest testified that, “[o]nce [Schuttpelz] was secured, myself and
[another agent] proceeded to search the vehicle which was a semi truck in this case.” During this
search, the Bureau seized, among other items, a cell phone and laptop computer from Schuttpelz’s
A forensic search later revealed that the laptop computer contained one-hundred forty-seven
images and eleven movies of child pornography. The computer also contained 2,006 online chat
files involving over 500 other people with whom Schuttpelz had communicated or attempted to
communicate from January to June 2007. The majority of these online conversations were related
to the topic of sex with minor children and Schuttpelz’s attempts to arrange having sex with minor
On August 22, Schuttpelz was charged in a five-count indictment in the District Court for
the Eastern District of Michigan. He was charged with: (1) Attempted Enticement/Coercion; (2)
Attempted Aggravated Sexual Abuse; (3) Travel With Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct;
(4) Distribution of Child Pornography; and (5) Possession of Child Pornography. Schuttpelz pled
not guilty to all five counts at his initial appearance and arraignment on October 3. In the
Government’s second superseding indictment, all five charges were realleged and the Government
added a sixth count of Transportation of Child Pornography. The district court severed counts 1 and
3 the day before trial.
In September 2009, Schuttpelz moved to suppress evidence, including the cell phone and
laptop, seized during what he alleged was an unlawful search of his truck. The district court held
USA v. Schuttpelz
a two-day evidentiary hearing, at the end of which the court denied Schuttpelz’s motion to suppress
The case went to trial in January 2010 on the four remaining counts. Following the close of
evidence at trial, Schuttpelz requested a jury instruction on entrapment. The Government opposed
the instruction, and the parties engaged in an extensive discussion on the matter in court. The district
court then denied Schuttpelz’s request for an entrapment instruction, finding that Schuttpelz was “an
unwary criminal who readily availed himself with the opportunity to perpetrate the crime . . . . [He]
continuously and aggressively went on [the Government’s web] site to set up the conduct . . . .
[T]here was no repeated government inducement.”
At the end of the two-week trial, Schuttpelz was found guilty on all four counts. The district
court sentenced Schuttpelz to thirty-eight years’ imprisonment.
Schuttpelz timely appeals his conviction, arguing that the district court erred in denying (1)
his motion to suppress evidence gained from an allegedly unlawful search of his vehicle, and (2) his
request for a jury instruction on entrapment.
“When reviewing decisions on motions to suppress, this Court will uphold the factual
findings of the district court unless clearly erroneous, while legal conclusions are reviewed de novo.”
United States v. Johnson, 627 F.3d 578, 583 (2010) (quoting United States v. West, 520 F.3d 604,
609 (6th Cir.2008)) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Evidence is to “be viewed in
the light most favorable to the district court’s conclusion.” United States v. Gooch, 499 F.3d 596,
600 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing United States v. Jones, 159 F.3d 969, 973 (6th Cir.1998)). The appeal
USA v. Schuttpelz
of the decision to deny Schuttpelz’s motion to suppress “presents solely a legal question, and thus
we review it de novo.” United States v. Buford, 632 F.3d 264, 268 (6th Cir. 2011).
This Court “review[s] the district court’s denial of jury instructions for abuse of discretion.
The failure to give a requested jury instruction is an abuse of discretion when it is (1) a correct
statement of the law, (2) not substantially covered by the charge actually delivered to the jury, and
(3) concerns a point so important in the trial that the failure to give it substantially impairs the
defendant’s defense.” United States v. Theunick, 651 F.3d 578, 589 (6th Cir. 2011) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted). “We review de novo allegations of constitutional violations
at the trial stage.” Johnson, 627 F.3d at 582 (citing United States v. Webber, 208 F.3d 545, 550 (6th
Denial of Motion to Suppress Evidence
The Fourth Amendment protects an individual’s right against unreasonable searches and
seizures, including those conducted without a warrant based upon probable cause. U.S. Const.
Amend. IV. However, “there [are] exceptions to the [Fourth Amendment’s] warrant requirement.”
United States v. U.S. Dist. Ct. for the E. Dist. of Mich., S. Div., 407 U.S. 297, 318 (1972). The
district court based its decision to deny Schuttpelz’s motion upon finding the existence of such an
exception, specifically the “vehicle search exception” as defined by Thornton v. United States. 541
U.S. 615, 623-24 (2004) (“So long as an arrestee is the sort of ‘recent occupant’ of a vehicle such
as petitioner was here, officers may search that vehicle incident to the arrest.” (footnote omitted)).
Under this exception, which the district court found was upheld by the United States Supreme Court
in Gant, 129 S. Ct. at 1714 (“[W]e also conclude that circumstances unique to the automobile
USA v. Schuttpelz
context justify a search incident to arrest when it is reasonable to believe that evidence of the offense
of arrest might be found in the vehicle.”), the district court determined that the search of Schuttpelz’s
vehicle was permissible because there was probable cause to arrest Schuttpelz and probable cause
for the officers to search his vehicle for evidence of the crimes that precipitated his arrest.
Schuttpelz argues that the district court should have granted his motion to suppress the laptop
and cell phone evidence because, under Gant, “[p]olice may search a vehicle incident to a recent
occupant’s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the
time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of
arrest.” 129 S.Ct. at 1723. Here, Schuttpelz was secured away from the vehicle at the time the
search took place and, Schuttpelz argues, there was no probable cause to believe the vehicle held
evidence of the offense for which he was arrested.
Under the exclusionary rule, prosecutors are barred from introducing evidence obtained in
violation of the Fourth Amendment. Davis, 131 S. Ct. at 2423. The Government argues that the
evidence obtained from the search of the vehicle was properly admitted because, in conducting the
search, the agents relied in good faith on pre-Gant case law that permitted such a search at the time.
Gant was decided in 2011, four years after the search of Schuttpelz’s vehicle. Under the
Supreme Court’s recent decision in Davis, “searches conducted in objectively reasonable reliance
on binding appellate precedent are not subject to the exclusionary rule.” Id. at 2423-24. Prior to
Gant, we had consistently held that, “once a police officer has effected a valid arrest, that officer can
search the area that is or was within the arrestee’s control. We, like the majority of other circuits,
USA v. Schuttpelz
interpreted [New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454 (1981),] to allow law enforcement officers to search
a vehicle incident to a lawful custodial arrest of its occupants without a warrant or probable cause,
even after the arrestee was handcuffed and placed in the backseat of a police cruiser.” Buford, 632
F.3d at 269 (citing United States v. Patterson, 993 F.2d 121, 123 (6th Cir. 1993) (per curiam);
United States v. Nichols, 512 F.3d 789, 797 (6th Cir. 2008)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Both this Court in Buford and the Supreme Court in Davis have determined that evidence cannot be
excluded under Gant where the Government’s search was undertaken with reasonable reliance on
existing law at the time. Buford, 632 F.3d at 276-77 (“We therefore hold that the district court erred
in granting Buford’s motion to suppress. A police officer who reasonably relies on settled circuit
precedent that authorizes the search of a vehicle acts in objective good faith . . . . Thus, the
judicially-created exclusionary rule does not apply and suppression is not warranted.”).
The agents executed the search of Schuttpelz’s vehicle “in objectively reasonable reliance”
on the law as defined by this Court at the time of the arrest: the tractor-trailer was within
Schuttpelz’s control immediately prior to his arrest, and the agents did not need probable cause to
search it. See id.; see also Patterson, 993 F.2d at 123 (holding, prior to Gant, that “police may
search a vehicle incident to arrest even after the arrestee was handcuffed and placed in the backseat
of a police cruiser”). Because the evidence uncovered during the search was admissible under Davis
and Buford due to the agents’ good-faith reliance on pre-Gant law, we find the district court properly
denied Schuttpelz’s motion to suppress evidence.
Denial of Request for Entrapment Jury Instruction
USA v. Schuttpelz
“A valid entrapment defense requires proof of two elements: (1) government inducement of
the crime, and (2) lack of predisposition on the part of the defendant to engage in the criminal
activity.” United States v. Khalil, 279 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 2002) (citing United States v. Nelson,
922 F.2d 311, 317 (6th Cir. 1990)). “To be entitled to an entrapment instruction, the defendant must
come forward with evidence to support both elements of the defense.” Id. (citation omitted). The
defendant “is entitled to an entrapment instruction whenever there is sufficient evidence from which
a reasonable jury could find entrapment.” Mathews v. United States, 485 U.S. 58, 62 (1988).
Schuttpelz appeals the district court’s denial of his request for a jury instruction on
entrapment, arguing that the district court erred in finding that he had not presented sufficient
evidence demonstrating that he was not predisposed to commit the criminal acts and in finding that
the Government had not induced his behavior.
Elements of an Entrapment Defense
“Where the evidence ‘clearly and unequivocally establishes that [the defendant] was
predisposed,’ the district court is justified in denying an entrapment instruction.” Khalil, 279 F.3d
at 365 (quoting Nelson, 922 F.2d at 317; citing United States v. Elder, 90 F.3d 1110, 1135 (6th
Cir.1996)). A predisposition analysis “focuses upon whether the defendant was an ‘unwary
innocent’ or instead, an ‘unwary criminal’ who readily availed himself of the opportunity to
perpetrate the crime.” Khalil, 279 F.3d at 365 (quoting Mathews, 485 U.S. at 63) (internal quotation
marks omitted). In determining the existence of predisposition, we consider the following factors,
id. (alterations in original) (citing United States v. Barger, 931 F.2d 359, 366 (6th Cir. 1991)), among
USA v. Schuttpelz
 the character or reputation of the defendant, including any prior criminal record;
 whether the suggestion of the criminal activity was initially made by the
 whether the defendant was engaged in the criminal activity for profit;
 whether the defendant evidenced reluctance to commit the offense, overcome
only by repeated Government inducement or persuasion; and
 the nature of the inducement or persuasion supplied by the government.
Schuttpelz argues that the evidence does not demonstrate a predisposition to engage in sex
with young children. Schuttpelz claims on appeal that his conversations with Shannon were based
upon an interest in building a romantic relationship with her, not her children, and that any interest
he had in sexual encounters with children was fantasy and not a real-world interest; he claims
“[t]here is a substantial difference in the scientific literature regarding adult males that are interested
in teenagers for sexual pleasure as opposed to those attracted to small children.”
However, under the factors in Khalil, there is an abundance of evidence demonstrating
Schuttpelz’s predisposition to engage in criminal sexual activity with minors. This evidence
includes: his extensive collection of child pornographic images and videos; his status as a registered
sex offender for molesting a thirteen-year-old girl; his apparent understanding of the subtle word
signals for sexual activities with children in the undercover agents’ online profiles; his initiation of
contact with the agent posing as Shannon; his statements to Shannon that he wanted to move forward
with his plan to visit and engage in sexual activity with her daughters, in response to several
statements by her offering him opportunities to back out of the plan; and his numerous internet chats
aimed at engaging in sexual encounters with minors. See United States v. Moore, 916 F.2d 1131,
1137-39 (6th Cir. 1990) (finding that a defendant who, prior to his interaction with undercover
agents, “maintained a substantial collection of hard core pornographic materials and engaged in
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related criminal activity involving minors” had not met his burden of demonstrating lack of
Because Schuttpelz failed to demonstrate a lack of predisposition, the district court did not
abuse its discretion in denying Schuttpelz’s request for a jury instruction on the entrapment defense.
Thus, we need not address the other element of an entrapment defense, government inducement.
Schuttpelz also argues that the Sixth Amendment right to present a defense guarantees him
a right to his requested jury instruction. Because Schuttpelz has not demonstrated a factual or legal
basis for an entrapment defense, this argument fails. “A trial judge is not required to adopt the
language suggested by a defendant in the Court’s instructions to the jury. [H]owever, when a theory
of defense finds some support in the evidence and in the law, a defendant is entitled to some mention
of that theory in the instructions.” Theunick, 651 F.3d at 589 (internal citations and quotation marks
For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM Schuttpelz’s conviction.
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