U.S. v. LOWE No. 91-1353.
999 F.2d 448 (1993)
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Arthur Marvin LOWE, Defendant-Appellant.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
July 6, 1993.
Joseph Mackey, Asst. U.S. Atty. (Michael J. Norton, U.S. Atty., with him on the brief), Denver, CO, for plaintiff-appellee.
David A. Lane, Denver, CO, for defendant-appellant.
Before EBEL and KELLY, Circuit Judges, and VRATIL, District Judge.
VRATIL, District Judge.
Defendant Arthur Marvin Lowe entered a conditional plea of guilty to charges of unlawful possession of a machine gun in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d) and 5871. The district court denied defendant's motion to suppress certain evidence obtained from defendant's home. Defendant appeals and, for reasons stated below, we affirm.
On the evening of January 20, 1990, as part of an investigation into the sale of illegal machine guns, Agent William Frangis, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, seized two unlawful machine guns from Mark Weiand. In the ensuing discussions, Weiand confessed that he owned a third gun and agreed to help Agent Frangis recover it from the residence of his friend, defendant Arthur Marvin Lowe.
In the midst of a raging snowstorm later that evening, Weiand and Agent Frangis traveled in Weiand's pick-up truck to defendant's residence. Weiand radioed ahead to defendant's wife, Lorrie Lowe, and told her that he was coming to pick up his gun. Mrs. Lowe told him to come on over. Defendant was not at home, but he had already spoken to his wife and told her get the gun ready for Weiand. Mrs. Lowe therefore had the gun ready, on the floor of the back porch. The gun clip was in the kitchen, which adjoined the porch.
Upon arriving at defendant's home, Weiand entered the unlocked porch door without knocking. Agent Frangis accompanied Weiand and followed him in. Mrs. Lowe heard the men arrive and joined them almost immediately. Weiand picked up the gun and handed it to Agent Frangis. Mrs. Lowe asked Weiand whether the clip went with the gun. Weiand answered affirmatively, retrieved the clip from the kitchen, and handed it to Agent Frangis. Weiand and Agent Frangis then left the porch with the gun and the clip. While they were driving away, Mrs. Lowe radioed Weiand and told him to be sure to oil the gun.
The trial court denied defendant's motion to suppress, holding that Mrs. Lowe had consented to the entry and seizure from defendant's house.
We review the trial court's factual findings regarding consent under the clearly erroneous standard. United States v. Price, 925 F.2d 1268, 1269 (10th Cir.1991).
The district court found that Weiand was acting as a government agent when he entered the Lowe residence to retrieve the gun.
Voluntary consent is such an exception, and where consent is present, no warrant is necessary. Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 222, 93 S.Ct. 2041, 2045, 36 L.Ed.2d 854 (1973). In order to find consent, the district court must find from the totality of the circumstances that (1) the consent was voluntary, and (2) the search did not exceed the scope of the consent. United States v. Price, 925 F.2d 1268, 1270 (10th Cir.1991). By clear and positive testimony, the court must find that the consent was "unequivocal and specific" and "freely and intelligently" given, and the government must prove that consent was given without duress or coercion. Price, 925 F.2d at 1270 (citing Schneckloth, supra).
The district court concluded that Mrs. Lowe had consented to the entry and seizure in question. On the record, this consent was "unequivocal and specific" and "freely and intelligently" given. Weiand was a family friend and Mrs. Lowe invited him to the home. Mrs. Lowe was expecting Weiand to arrive in the midst of a raging snowstorm. If Weiand's failure to knock presented any problem on the evening of January 20, 1990, Mrs. Lowe did not communicate that fact by word or conduct. To the contrary, she placed the gun on the porch so that Weiand might easily have access to it. She met Weiand and Agent Frangis on the porch, almost at the instant of their arrival. She did not object to their presence. In fact, she checked to make sure they had all the gun parts and later radioed Weiand to make sure he took good care of the gun. Based on the totality of these circumstances, the district court's finding of consent is not clearly erroneous.
Even if Mrs. Lowe did not expressly agree in advance that Weiand and Agent Frangis could enter without knocking, and the initial entry was therefore technically unlawful, the subsequent conduct of Mrs. Lowe demonstrates voluntary consent to the entry. Where a Fourth Amendment violation precedes consent, the validity of the consent depends on whether it was sufficiently an act of free will, i.e. whether it was voluntary in fact. The answer to that question depends upon the totality of the circumstances surrounding the consent. United States v. Maez, 872 F.2d 1444, 1454 (citing Schneckloth, 412 U.S. at 248-49, 93 S.Ct. at 2058-59). In that regard, the issue is "whether, granting establishment of the primary illegality, the evidence to which instant objection is made has been come at by exploitation of that illegality or instead by means sufficiently distinguishable to be purged of the primary taint." Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 488, 83 S.Ct. 407, 417, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963). "Exploitation of the primary illegality" occurs when the government uses fruits of the primary illegality to coerce consent. See United States v. Carson, 793 F.2d 1141, 1148-49 (10th Cir. 1986).
Based on the totality of the circumstances we find that even if the initial entry by Weiand and Agent Frangis was unlawful, the subsequent actions of Mrs. Lowe demonstrate consent which by clear and compelling evidence was voluntary in fact. The record is devoid of any evidence of coercion or exploitation of the alleged illegal entry.
For the reasons stated above, the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress is
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