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United States v. Farlee

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division

December 7, 2012

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
Leon Donald FARLEE, Defendant.

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Mikal G. Hanson, U.S. Attorney's Office, Pierre, SD, for Plaintiff.

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Terry L. Pechota, Rapid City, SD, for Defendant.


ROBERTO A. LANGE, District Judge.


After being indicted for one count of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon and one count of Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, Defendant Leon Donald Farlee filed a Motion to Suppress, Doc. 19, seeking to preclude admission at trial of statements Farlee made to Tribal Police Officer Jeremi Blacksmith and certain evidence seized by tribal law enforcement officers after Farlee's arrest. Doc. 29 at 1. Magistrate Judge Mark Moreno held a hearing on September 19, 2012, and heard testimony from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Police Detectives Russell Leaf and Larry LeBeau as well as from Officer Blacksmith. On October 9, 2012, 2012 WL 6093510, Judge Moreno issued a Report and Recommendation, Doc. 48, recommending that Farlee's Motion to Suppress be denied. The Report and Recommendation was served upon the parties as required by 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Farlee timely objected, Doc. 51.

In considering a magistrate judge's recommendation on a dispositive matter, such as a motion to suppress evidence, a district court must make a " de novo determination of those portions of the report or ... recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court has conducted a de novo review of the record. For the reasons explained below, this Court adopts the Report and Recommendation with certain qualifications.


Around 11:00 p.m., on March 31, 2012, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Police Department Officers, in response to a 911 call, went to Leslie Oakie's trailer in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, which is within Indian country on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's Reservation. Doc. 22-4 at 1. Tribal police officers found Merton Eaton lying on the Oakie trailer's floor with multiple facial lacerations and head injuries. Doc. 22-4 at 1. Eaton's injuries were severe and he was air-lifted to Rapid City Regional Hospital for treatment. Doc. 22-4 at 1.

Later that night, Officer Blacksmith responded to a separate, unrelated call from Alvina Circle Bear's trailer. T.[1] 44. Ms. Circle Bear wanted Farlee removed from her home. T. 44. Officer Blacksmith found Farlee with Leslie Oakie in Ms. Circle Bear's kitchen. T. 45. While Officer Blacksmith was talking with Farlee, Tribal Police Officer Mark Aungie ran a warrant check on Farlee and discovered a hold out against Farlee. T. 47, 58. Officer Blacksmith arrested and handcuffed Farlee based on that hold. T. 48. While being handcuffed, Farlee told Officer Blacksmith to watch out for his arm injury. T. 48. Farlee had an ace bandage wrapped around his right forearm, but no blood was apparent around or through the wrap. T. 47. Officer Blacksmith asked Farlee what happened to his arm. T. 49. Farlee responded that he had cut his arm on a wire panel fence outside of the Circle Bear trailer. T. 50. At the time of this exchange, Officer Blacksmith was not aware that Eaton had been assaulted and had no reason to suspect Farlee of assaulting Eaton. T. 64.

Officer Blacksmith finished handcuffing Farlee and transported him first to the

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Eagle Butte Adult Detention Center and then to the Indian Health Services Hospital for treatment. T. 51-54. At the hospital, Farlee began acting up, pulling away from Officer Blacksmith and dropping down to his knees. T. 55. A nurse at the hospital told Officer Blacksmith that the hospital would not treat Farlee based on the way he was acting and that Officer Blacksmith should take Farlee back to the jail. T. 55. Farlee was taken back to the jail at that point, but later that day returned to the hospital for treatment. T. 56.

Sometime in the next day or two, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Detective Russell Leaf went to the Oakie trailer and observed evidence of blood coming down the outside front door and blood in the trailer's interior. T. 9. Detective Leaf determined that blood samples should be taken. T. 9. Detective Leaf called Leslie Oakie on the phone and received her oral consent to search her trailer, but Detective Leaf was out of town for training. T. 9; T. 11. After obtaining Oakie's oral consent to search her trailer, Detective Leaf called Detective Larry LeBeau around 11:00 a.m on the morning of April 3. T. 11; T. 30-32. Detective Leaf told Detective LeBeau that Oakie had consented to a search of her trailer and that Detective LeBeau should go to the house and take blood samples from the door and the windows. T. 11; T. 38. Detective LeBeau went to the Oakie trailer and collected blood swabs from its exterior. T. 32.

Later on April 3, around 4:15 p.m., Detective LeBeau went back to Leslie Oakie's trailer. Doc 30-31. Shortly after Detective LeBeau arrived, Oakie and some of her family members returned home. T. 29-31. Oakie signed a consent form Detective LeBeau provided her that allowed him to search and seize certain evidence from her trailer. T. 29-31; Doc. 22-5. Detective LeBeau then searched the interior of the trailer, took blood swabs from its interior, and seized a knife from inside the trailer. Doc. 18-19.

Meanwhile, Farlee was still in jail in Eagle Butte. Detective LeBeau applied for and received two tribal search warrants. The first warrant, issued on April 3, was to seize Farlee's boots, which jail personnel had collected upon Farlee's entry into the jail. Doc. 22-4 at 2. The second warrant, issued on April 4, was to gather a sample of Farlee's saliva. Doc. 22-5 at 2. Detective LeBeau submitted an affidavit in his application for each warrant. Doc. 22-4 at 1; Doc. 22-5 at 2. In support of the warrant for the boots, Detective LeBeau stated that " [t]he investigation revealed Leon D. Farlee ... did assault Merton Eaton with his fist and shod feet" and that " [t]he investigation revealed Mr. Leon D. Farlee at the time of the assault against Eaton was wearing a pair of brown western style (cowboy) boots." Doc 22-4 at 1. In support of the warrant for Farlee's saliva, LaBeau's affidavit states that the investigation led the officers to suspect Farlee and that Farlee's " boots did have a dark red substance on the both boots in the toe area that may be blood." Doc. 22-5 at 3. Detective LeBeau did not conduct the investigation he referenced in the affidavit, but drafted the affidavits based on what Detective Leaf had told him. T. 36. Judge Karen Jeffries of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Children's Court signed both warrants. T. 36-38; Doc. 22-4 at 3; Doc. 22-5 at 2. Detective LeBeau testified that he handed Judge Jeffries the warrants and affidavits, she looked them over, and she signed them. T. 40. Based on these warrants, Detective LeBeau seized Farlee's boots and took buccal samples. T. 19-20; T. 25.

On April 10, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted Farlee with two counts of assaulting Eaton: one ...

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