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United States v. Hobson

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

June 29, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Kristopher Hobson, Defendants.



         In February 2018, during an investigation into a stolen vehicle re-tag ring, Detroit police officers obtained and executed a search warrant at Defendant Kristopher Hobson's residence. The search uncovered, among other things, two stolen firearms. These firearms, discovered in Defendant's bedroom, are the basis for his two pending felon-in-possession charges.

         Defendant has moved to suppress all items seized during the search, alleging various defects in the warrant. For the reasons below, the Court shall deny his motion because the warrant was sufficiently particular and supported by probable cause and because the firearms were lawfully seized in plain view.


         Charged with two counts of felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Doc. # 12), Defendant Kristopher Hobson has moved to suppress all evidence seized during the February 7, 2018 search of his residence (Doc. # 37). The Court held an evidentiary hearing on his motion on June 27, 2018, during which the Government presented two witnesses-Detroit Police Sergeant Franklin Gerard and Detroit Police Detective Jon Metiva. The Government also introduced, as exhibits, the search warrant, the warrant affidavit, and photographs taken during the execution of the warrant.

         Having heard and observed the witnesses who testified at the evidentiary hearing, allowing for this Court to assess credibility, having considered the exhibits submitted by the parties, having considered the arguments presented by counsel, and having applied the governing legal principles, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.[1]


         The events leading up to the execution of the search warrant are described in the warrant affidavit prepared by Detective Metiva. In it, he averred that in December 2017, officers of the Detroit Auto Theft Task Force were conducting an investigation into a stolen vehicle re-tag ring. During the investigation, they recovered a stolen 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer that had been re-tagged with a fraudulent VIN number. Mail inside the vehicle was addressed to a residence at 5290 W. Outer Drive in Detroit, Michigan, leading the officers to turn their attention to that location.

         Task Force officers then conducted numerous surveillance operations at the address. On February 1, 2018, officers observed an individual in a black/blue Tahoe drive to the location, go inside, and then leave in the vehicle. A check on the Tahoe's license plate revealed that the plate number matched a 2015 GMC Sierra. This same Tahoe was also involved in a terminated high speed chase with Southfield police officers two days later.

         On February 2, officers saw a white Chevrolet Trailblazer parked in the rear of the backyard of the Outer Drive residence. Also at the residence was a black Trailblazer parked in a manner that concealed it from the street. Two days later, a reliable confidential source contacted Task Force officers and reported having been in contact with the individuals at the Outer Drive residence. The source had also obtained the VIN number for the white Trailblazer. A check on that number revealed that the vehicle had been stolen.

         The surveillance culminated in the execution of a search warrant by the Task Force at the Outer Drive residence on February 7. During the search, officers recovered three stolen Trailblazers-the two from the backyard and one from the garage. They also arrested a man present at the address, who stated that his step-brother, Kristopher Hobson, had brought the cars there. The arrestee also informed the officers that Hobson drove a black Yukon and lived at 18714 Kentucky.

         That same day, officers went to the Kentucky residence and observed the black/blue Tahoe they had seen a few days prior in the yard, along with a black Cadillac Escalade, a black Yukon Denali, and a vehicle under a tarp.

         That evening, Detective Metiva prepared an affidavit and obtained a search warrant for the Kentucky residence and its curtilage. The warrant authorized the officers to seize the following evidence:

All evidence including, stolen vehicles, donor vehicles, vehicle parts, vehicle identification plates, tools to dismantle vehicles, titles registrations, cellular phones, desk top computers, laptop computers, tablets, illegal or legal weapons, and ...

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