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United States v. Mathews

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 5, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Terrence Terrell Mathews, also known as Terrence Terrell Matthews, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted March 12, 2015

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - St. Paul.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Julie Elaine Allyn, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; Lisa D. Kirkpatrick, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Saint Paul, MN.

Terrence Terrell Mathews, also known as: Terrence Terrell Matthews, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Oxford, WI.

For Terrence Terrell Mathews, also known as: Terrence Terrell Matthews, Defendant - Appellant: Katherine M. Menendez, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Public Defender's Office, Minneapolis, MN.

Before WOLLMAN and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges, and WHITE,[1] District Judge.

OPINION

Page 1233

WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

A jury found Terrence Matthews[2] guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § § 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2), and the district court[3] sentenced him to 96 months' imprisonment. On appeal, Matthews argues that the district court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence obtained during a warrant search of his apartment and when it applied the two-level specific offense characteristic for possession of a stolen firearm under § 2K2.1(b)(4) of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual (Guidelines). We affirm.

In January 2013, Melanie Hines, Matthews's occasional girlfriend and the mother of his child, called police to report the theft of a firearm. She identified Matthews as a possible suspect in the theft, and she allegedly suggested that Matthews may also have been involved in trafficking

Page 1234

heroin. Police learned that Matthews lived with his mother in an apartment located in a large, secure apartment building, to which the owner had granted police all-hours access bye placing a key in an outdoor lockbox. Their apartment was one of forty or fifty individual apartments whose doors opened onto a long common hallway. Later in January, police went to the apartment building with a trained police dog to conduct a drug sniff in the common hallway area outside the door to Matthews's apartment. The dog alerted to the presence of drugs. In February 2013, police returned to the apartment building with the same dog and conducted another drug sniff in the common hallway area outside the door to Matthews's apartment. The dog again alerted " while sniffing the lower door seam" of Matthews's apartment but did not alert when police led it to four other apartment doors opening onto the common hallway.

On February 25, 2013, a state-court judge issued a warrant to search Matthews's apartment for evidence of drugs and firearms based on a police affidavit describing the stolen-gun report from Hines and the two drug dog alerts outside Matthews's apartment. Police executed the warrant on February 27, 2013, and recovered drug paraphernalia, a digital scale, trace amounts of heroin, and the gun Hines had reported stolen.

A grand jury returned an indictment charging Matthews with a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Matthews filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized during the search of his apartment, arguing that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause. Specifically, Matthews argued that because the drug dog sniffs were unlawful searches under the Fourth Amendment, evidence that the dog twice alerted to the presence of drugs should not have been included in the search-warrant affidavit and should not have been considered in determining whether probable cause existed to issue the warrant. He also argued that ...


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