United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
Page Hood Chief Judge, United States District Court
January 21, 2016, a Complaint was filed against Defendant
Phillip Anthony White (“White”). (Doc # 1) On
September 16, 2015, White was charged by Indictment with
Carjacking (Count I) and Use of a Firearm During a Crime of
Violence (Count II). (Doc # 8) Pursuant to a Stipulated
Order, a jury trial is set for March 21, 2017. (Doc # 25)
charges against White relate to a carjacking that took place
shortly before 5:00 a.m. on January 15, 2016 at a Clark gas
station on Morang in Detroit. The victim
(“Victim”) pulled his 2008 Ford Taurus into the
gas station and entered the store, leaving his car running.
According to the Government, White and another male
approached the vehicle. White's companion got into the
driver's seat of Victim's vehicle and began to drive
out of the station while White stood outside the vehicle.
Victim came out of the store and ran towards his car yelling.
White then aimed a .40 caliber handgun in the direction of
Victim and fired a shot. Victim was not hit and ran back into
the gas station while White and his companion drove away in
January 19, 2016, while conducting an unrelated homicide
investigation, the Detroit Police Department executed a
search warrant at 10337 Somerset Street in Detroit. Police
happened to find Victim's 2008 Ford Taurus in the
driveway. Police found White inside the residence in
possession of the keys to the stolen vehicle. Police also
found a .40 caliber handgun in White's bedroom, along
with a .22 caliber rifle. Inside the stolen vehicle, police
found shell casings to a .45 caliber bullet and a .40 caliber
bullet. Victim's description of the man who shot at him
and the surveillance video from the Clark gas station matched
White's likeness. White was arrested and interviewed by
matter is presently before the Court on Defendant's
Motion to Suppress Defendant's Statements (Doc # 32)
filed on December 20, 2016. The Government filed a Response
on January 5, 2017. (Doc # 35) White seeks to suppress his
confession arguing that it was involuntary given his history
of substance-induced blackouts and consumption of alcohol and
seven to eight Xanax pills per day.
Court held an evidentiary hearing on February 2, 2017. The
Court heard and has considered testimony from White. The
Court has also reviewed and considered the documentary and
video exhibits introduced at the hearing.
FINDINGS OF FACT
testified that he is 24 years old and has been taking Xanax
pills since he was 18 years old to get high. At first, he
would only take one Xanax pill. Now he takes six Xanax pills
in order to achieve the higher effect that he desires. White
also began taking one or two Percocet pills along with the
Xanax pills when he was 20 years old in order to enhance the
effect of the Xanax. White testified that these drugs help to
relax his mind and give him a good feeling and sometimes
makes him forget things. He testified that he can interact
and have conversations with family and friends while on these
drugs, but that he cannot always understand everything. He
testified that he sometimes drives while on these drugs.
White testified that he has diagnoses of Panic Disorder with
Agoraphobia, Bipolar II Disorder, Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder, and Major Depression. White testified
that he has a ninth grade education and can read and write.
testified that he ingested six Xanax pills and two Percocet
pills early in the morning between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. on
January 19, 2016. White was arrested later that day and was
first interviewed by Detroit Police shortly after 4:00 p.m.
that same day. Gov't's Exh. 4. White read aloud and
initialed next to each of his Miranda rights, at one
point asking for and receiving clarification on his rights.
Id.; Gov't's Exh. 3. The video of the
interview shows that White understood and was able to answer
open-ended questions. White was able to provide lengthy
responses and volunteered information. He spoke in responsive
full sentences that were not far afield. White appeared
oriented to place and time and recalled that he had been at
10337 Somerset Street for four days prior to his arrest.
White did not indicate that he took drugs that were affecting
his ability to answer questions.
January 20, 2016, FBI Special Agent George Reinerth and a
Detroit Police Officer conducted a separate videotaped
interview of White. Gov't's Exh. 1. The interview
began at approximately 5:47 p.m. and ended at approximately
7:26 p.m., lasting about an hour and 40 minutes. Id.
The officers offered White a bathroom break as well as water
several times, and White was not handcuffed. Id. At
this point, White had been in custody for over 24 hours and
had not taken Xanax or Percocet for over 32 hours. White
executed a Miranda waiver after reading aloud and
initialing each of his rights. Id.; Gov't's
the interview, White explained that, on January 15, 2016, he
and his companion, “BB, ” agreed to steal a car
and sell it as a means to get money. Gov't's Exh. 1.
BB told White to bring a gun because they might need it.
Id. White brought his .40 caliber Smith and Wesson
handgun and went to the Clark gas station on Morang with BB.
Id. They took Victim's 2008 Ford Taurus, and
White admitted that he fired a single shot from his handgun
at Victim when Victim approached the vehicle. Id.
White first stated that he fired the shot upward in the air,
but he later admitted that his arm was at a lower angle when
he shot. Id. White maintained that he did not shoot
directly at Victim. The surveillance video shows that the
shooter is facing Victim at the time of the shot, and that
Victim reacts to the shot as if the gun had been aimed in his
direction, putting his hands up and running away. (Doc # 34,
Pg ID 78 at 4:54:50 a.m.) White explained that BB drove them
both away to an unknown address, that BB exited the vehicle,
and that White drove the vehicle to 10337 Somerset Street and
changed the license plate. Gov't's Exh. 1. White
stated that he was staying at that address with other people,
and that the residents maintained three “house
guns” (including the .40 caliber Smith and Wesson used
during the carjacking). Id. White admitted that he
had the key to Victim's 2008 Ford Taurus in his pocket
and that the .40 caliber Smith and Wesson was in his room
when Detroit Police took him into custody. Id. White
stated that he previously earned money selling marijuana and
borrowing money from family. Id. He stated that he
participated in the carjacking to make money because he was
no longer selling marijuana. Id.
testified that he does not recall the officers making any
threats or promises during the January 20, 2016 interview, or
forcing him to answer questions in a certain way. A review of
the video confirms that the officers did not make any threats
or promises. Id. White testified that he does not
recall any mistreatment on the part of the officers on
January 19, 2016 or on January 20, 2016. White testified that
he did not understand his Miranda rights and could
not focus on January 19, 2016 or on January 20, 2016 because
he was high on Xanax and Percocet. He testified that he
cannot recall if his mind was any better on January 20, 2016
than it was on January 19, 2016 because he was high. Upon
review of the videos of both interviews, there is no
indication that White was confused, disoriented, or that he
experienced a blackout. At the hearing, White testified that
he was not aware that the interviews were videotaped, and he
identified himself in the videos of both interviews.
2016, White retained a forensic psychologist and shared the
report with the Government. The report diagnosed White with
Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, Major Depressive Disorder,
ADHD, and a pattern of heavy substance abuse. The report