United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division
JEFFREY L. VIKEN CHIEF JUDGE
jury returned an indictment alleging defendant Daniel Ramos
committed sexual abuse of a minor. (Docket 1). Defendant
filed a motion to suppress statements. (Docket 15). The
suppression motion was referred to the magistrate judge for a
report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and the standing order dated March 9, 2015.
Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann conducted a hearing on the
motion and issued a report and recommendation concluding
defendant's motion should be denied. (Dockets 34 &
38). Defendant filed objections to the report and
recommendation. (Docket 42).
the Federal Magistrate Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), if a
party files written objections to the magistrate judge's
proposed findings and recommendations, the district court is
required to “make a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.”
Id. The court may “accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge.” Id. After establishing
the background facts, the court addresses defendant's
objections in turn.
November 3, 2016, Federal Bureau of Investigation
(“FBI”) Special Agent Jeffrey Youngblood
(“SA Youngblood” or “the agent”)
interviewed defendant. (Docket 38 at p. 2). The interview
occurred because SA Youngblood contacted defendant and asked
him to meet. Id. The agent reached out to defendant
as part of his investigation into a report that defendant
engaged in a sexual act with a 15-year-old female in
September 2016. Id. Defendant agreed to a meeting,
suggesting it take place in the parking lot of an ice cream
store in Rapid City, South Dakota. Id.
Youngblood arrived in his non-marked vehicle at the parking
lot, he parked next to defendant's car. Id.
Defendant entered SA Youngblood's vehicle, and the agent
showed his FBI credentials. Id. Within approximately
30 seconds of starting the interview, SA Youngblood stated:
“Before we get started Daniel, I just need you to
understand you are not under arrest, okay. I'm not going
to arrest you during or after this conversation. The doors
are unlocked. You are free to go anytime you want. You
understand that?” Id. at p. 3; (Exhibit 1).
Defendant stated he understood. (Docket 38 at p. 3). No
Miranda warnings were given. Id. In a
general manner the agent asked whether defendant knew what
they were there to discuss, and defendant indicated he did
know. Id. at p. 2. SA Youngblood notified defendant
he was going to record their conversation. Id. at p.
interview lasted approximately 10 minutes. Id. at p.
4. Defendant made statements about the sexual encounter the
agent was investigating. Id. SA Youngblood testified
defendant comprehended the questions asked. Id. at
p. 3. The magistrate judge concluded the “tape recorded
interview establishes that Mr. Ramos was articulate and gave
appropriate answers to the questions being asked of
him.” Id. The agent was armed during the
interview, but it was not visible to defendant. Id.
at p. 3. Defendant was 29 years old at the time. Id.
Defendant left the agent's vehicle when the interview
ended and was not arrested until February 10, 2017.
Id. at pp. 4-5.
medical history is extensive, and he has suffered many
injuries in his life. (Dockets 38 at p. 4 & 42 at pp.
2-3). He submitted documentation of several serious head
wounds. (Dockets 38 at p. 4 & 42 at pp. 2-3). In November
1994, defendant was evaluated for ADHD behaviors, his IQ
testing put him in a borderline range and he received a
Ritalin prescription.(Dockets 29-11 at p. 1 & 42 at p. 2).
The magistrate judge determined these records did not show
“whether Mr. Ramos suffered any long term effects as a
result of [his] injuries.” (Docket 38 at p. 4).
magistrate judge found defendant was not in custody during
his interview, so the absence of Miranda warnings
did not violate his rights. (Docket 38 at pp. 5-8). Defendant
objects to this determination. (Docket 42 at p. 4).
rule in Miranda requires that any time a person is
taken into custody for questioning, a law enforcement officer
must, prior to questioning, advise the individual of his
right to be free from compulsory self-incrimination and his
right to the assistance of counsel.” United States
v. Axsom, 289 F.3d 496, 500 (8th Cir. 2002) (citing
Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444); see also United
States v. Laurita, 821 F.3d 1020, 1023 (8th Cir. 2016)
(“The rule under Miranda prevents the
government from using statements ‘stemming from
custodial interrogation of the defendant, ' unless the
government has used ‘procedural safeguards effective to
secure the privilege against self-incrimination.'
”) (quoting Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444).
“Although the circumstances of each case must certainly
influence a determination of whether a suspect is in custody
for purposes of receiving Miranda protection, the
ultimate inquiry is simply whether there is a formal arrest
or restraint on freedom of movement of the degree associated
with a formal arrest.” Laurita, 821 F.3d at
1023-24 (internal quotation marks omitted). If a person is in
custody, law enforcement must read him his Miranda
rights; if not in custody, Miranda's protections
do not apply. See id.
determine whether a suspect was in custody, [courts] ask
‘whether, given the totality of the circumstances, a
reasonable person would have felt at liberty to terminate the
interrogation and leave or cause the agents to leave.'
” Id. (quoting United States v.
Vinton, 631 F.3d 476, 481 (8th Cir. 2011)). The ...