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United States v. Castellanos

July 1, 2010


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Riley, Chief Judge.

Submitted: February 12, 2010

Before RILEY,*fn1 Chief Judge, SMITH and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

This is the second time this case has come before our court for review. In United States v. Castellanos, 518 F.3d 965 (8th Cir. 2008) (Castellanos I), Castellanos appealed the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained during a post-warrant search of his residence, claiming the warrant was based upon an unlawful pre-warrant search. We held a portion of the pre-warrant search was unlawful, and we reversed in part and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the district court found the evidence obtained during the post-warrant search was admissible under the independent source doctrine. Castellanos appeals, claiming the government (1) waived the right to raise the independent source doctrine on remand, and (2) failed to prove the warrant was based on an independent source.


Law enforcement officers received information from a confidential informant and other sources that Castellanos was in the United States illegally, Castellanos was selling large quantities of methamphetamine from his trailer residence, and a member of Castellanos's family had been kidnapped and killed. On February 23, 2006, at approximately 6:15 a.m., six law enforcement officers, including Detective Luis Ortiz (Detective Ortiz) with the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department, and Special Agent Tracy Raggs (Agent Raggs) of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, went to Castellanos's residence.

Upon arrival, officers found the door partially open, and because they had information about a possible kidnaping and murder, they entered the residence to determine the welfare of the occupants. Finding no one inside, the officers exited to the porch, where they observed Castellanos drive a pick-up truck into the residence's parking lot. When Castellanos saw the officers, he began to drive away. Agent Raggs followed Castellanos in a car and stopped Castellanos for weaving his car. Detective Ortiz was also present. The officers noticed Castellanos was intoxicated and had urinated on himself. Initially, Castellanos refused to identify himself, but he eventually provided the officers with the name Guillermo Lujan. Castellanos said he had identification at home. Detective Ortiz asked Castellanos for consent to search his trailer and pick-up truck, but Castellanos did not reply.

The officers drove Castellanos to his residence to verify his identity. Castellanos opened the unlocked door of his residence, and Castellanos did not object when Agent Raggs and Detective Ortiz followed him inside. Castellanos refused to say his name and said "no" to Detective Ortiz's request to search the residence. Agent Raggs again asked Castellanos for his identification, and Castellanos "flipped his hand" in the direction of his bedroom. Agent Raggs entered Castellanos's bedroom and searched a dresser and a chest of drawers, but did not locate any identification. Agent Raggs did notice a notebook on the dresser with monetary figures written on it, and saw similar papers in the living room, including a paper taped to the wall with names, numbers and monetary figures. Agent Raggs testified the document on the wall appeared to be a drug transaction ledger.

Eventually, Agent Raggs noticed a wallet on a bookshelf next to Castellanos, and retrieved identification from the wallet bearing the name of Guillermo Lujan. Agent Raggs asked Castellanos if his name were Guillermo Lujan, and Castellanos repeatedly responded, "what's on the ID?" Agent Raggs also asked Castellanos about his immigration status, and Castellanos admitted he was in the country illegally. Detective Ortiz decided to apply for a search warrant, and during the execution of the warrant, law enforcement officers found evidence of drug dealing. Castellanos was then charged with federal drug and firearm related offenses.

Castellanos filed a motion to suppress, claiming, among other things, that all evidence found in execution of the search warrant should be suppressed because the warrant was based upon observations of police during an unlawful search of Castellanos's home. The district court, adopting the magistrate judge's report and recommendation, granted Castellanos's motion to suppress as to the search of Castellanos's pick-up truck for reasons unrelated to this opinion, and denied the motion to suppress in all other respects.

Castellanos entered a conditional guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A) and 846, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. Castellanos then appealed to our court, claiming law enforcement officers illegally entered and searched his home. Castellanos also argued, for the first time on appeal, that "[e]ven if the warrantless entry into his home was reasonable, police had no reasonable basis by which to conclude that [Castellanos] had impliedly consented to a search of his bedroom for identification."

We concluded the law enforcement officers lawfully entered Castellanos's residence, but Castellanos was too intoxicated to consent to a search of his bedroom. Castellanos I, 518 F.3d at 970. We therefore reversed the district court's denial of Castellanos's motion to suppress "with respect to the evidence seized from Castellanos's bedroom," affirmed the district court's ruling in all other respects, and "remanded to the district court for further proceedings consistent with [our] opinion." Id. at 972.

On remand, Castellanos filed a supplemental motion to suppress, arguing the government waived its right to raise the independent source doctrine. He also claimed the scope of the remand should be limited to a determination, based on the existing evidentiary record, whether evidence obtained following the search of Castellanos's bedroom constituted fruit of the poisonous tree. In response, the government suggested the court hold a hearing to determine whether the police would have sought the warrant even if the unlawful entry into the bedroom had not occurred, and whether the information obtained through the unlawful entry impacted the court's decision to issue the search warrant. The magistrate judge found (1) the government did not waive its right to assert the independent source doctrine, (2) redacting the information obtained by police during the unlawful search of Castellanos's bedroom did not affect the probable cause of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant, and (3) additional evidence was needed to determine whether the illegal search motivated the officers to procure a search warrant.

On December 1, 2008, the magistrate judge held an evidentiary hearing. Detective Ortiz testified the records observed in the bedroom did not impact his decision to seek a search warrant. Based upon Detective Ortiz's testimony, the magistrate judge drafted a second report, recommending the district court deny Castellanos's supplemental motion to suppress based upon a finding that "the officers would have requested a search warrant even without having seen the logs which appeared to be drug sales records in defendant's bedroom." On February 17, 2009, ...

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