United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR BOND AND REVOCATION OF THE ORDER OF DETENTION (Dkt.
A. GOLDSMITH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Tristan Murphy's
motion for bond and revocation of the order of detention
(Dkt. 66). Murphy is charged with conspiracy to commit Hobbs
Act robberies in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (Dkt.
76). On August 22, 2019, Murphy initially consented to
detention pending trial (Dkt. 54). On September 23, 2019,
this Court held a hearing regarding Murphy's motion for
bond. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies
August 20, 2019, Murphy made his initial appearance in court
following his arrest in connection with a series of
“smash and grab” robberies at jewelry stores
across the United States. Compl. ¶ 5 (Dkt. 1). The FBI
has investigated over thirty such robberies fitting a similar
description and determined that many of the robberies
involved subjects living in the Detroit area. Id.
Typically, two groups would drive from Detroit to the robbery
location in separate vehicles: one group in a vehicle that
was properly registered or lawfully rented, and another group
in a stolen vehicle that could be abandoned immediately after
the robbery. Id. ¶¶ 12, 14, 18, 21. The
robbers would enter the targeted store, use sledgehammers to
break glass enclosures, and take diamonds and other jewelry.
2d Superseding Indictment ¶ 3 (Dkt. 76). After
abandoning the stolen car, both groups would travel back to
Detroit in the clean vehicle. Compl. ¶ 12. Murphy is
alleged to have taken an active role in a robbery on June 11,
2019, in Jacksonville, Florida.
release or detention of a federal defendant pending trial is
governed by the Bail Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3142.
Generally, “[t]he default position of the law . . . is
that a defendant should be released pending trial.”
United States v. Stone, 608 F.3d 939, 945 (6th Cir.
2010). Under § 3142, a defendant may be detained pending
trial if a judge “‘finds that no condition or
combination of conditions will reasonably assure the
appearance of the person as required and the safety of any
other person and the community[.]'” Id.
(quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)). In determining whether
any condition or combination of conditions would reasonably
assure the appearance of the defendant and the safety of the
community, courts must evaluate the available information
concerning: (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense
charged; (2) the weight of the evidence against the
defendant; (3) the history and characteristics of the
defendant; and (4) the nature and seriousness of the danger
posed by the defendant's release. 18 U.S.C. §
3142(g). The Government bears the burden of persuasion and
must prove risk of flight by a preponderance of the evidence,
and danger to another person or the community by clear and
convincing evidence. United States v. Hinton, 113
Fed.Appx. 76, 77-78 (6th Cir. 2004).
defendant is charged with a crime of violence, however, it is
presumed that no condition or combination of conditions will
assure the appearance of the defendant or the safety of the
community. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3142(e)(3); Stone,
608 F.3d at 945. This presumption imposes on the defendant
the burden of producing evidence that he does not pose a
danger to the community or a risk of flight. Stone,
608 F.3d at 945. Murphy has been indicted for committing a
robbery in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. §
1951(a), an offense that qualifies as a crime of violence.
See United States v. Gooch, 850 F.3d 285, 290 (6th
Cir. 2017). Because a grand jury has determined that probable
cause exists that Murphy committed the charged offense, it
may be presumed under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3) that no
condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure
Murphy's appearance and the safety of the community.
See Stone, 608 F.3d at 945 (“[W]hen the
government presents a [grand jury] indictment including
charges listed in section 3142(e), it has fulfilled its
burden to establish the presumption in favor of
detention.”) (citations omitted). The Government does
not contend that the presumption applies in the present case.
After conducting a hearing on September 23, 2019 and
considering the filings and arguments of counsel and the
pretrial services report, the Court concludes that denial of
Murphy's motion is proper regardless of whether the
presumption applies, as the statutory factors set forth above
favor Murphy's detention pending trial.
respect to the first factor, the nature and circumstances of
the offense charged, Murphy has been indicted for allegedly
conspiring to interfere with commerce by robbery or
threatened force, violence, or fear of physical injury - an
offense carrying a twenty-year statutory maximum sentence.
See 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). The indictment
alleges, and the Government presented evidence during the
hearing, that on June 11, 2019, Murphy was involved in the
violent robbery of a jewelry store in Jacksonville, Florida,
as part of a sophisticated and relentless conspiracy aimed at
stealing diamonds from jewelry stores across the country
since 2018. 2d Superseding Indictment ¶¶ 2-3;
Compl. ¶¶ 5, 18.
Government has submitted surveillance footage from the
Jacksonville jewelry store documenting the robbery.
Surveillance Video, Ex. A to Gov't Resp. (Dkt. 72-1). The
video shows that one of the suspects - alleged to be Murphy -
was allowed into the jewelry store after knocking and asking
if he could use the restroom. Id.; Compl. ¶ 19.
Minutes later, two suspects wearing hoods forced their way
into the store by pulling on the store's interior locked
doors hard enough that the doors opened. Surveillance Video.
As the two suspects ran into the store, the suspect alleged
to be Murphy emerged from the restroom, grabbed a fleeing
employee, knocked her to the floor, and dragged her by her
shirt across the floor before pulling her to her feet and
forcing her into another area of the store. Id.
Another suspect forced two other employees to the floor,
while demanding the employees open the display cases.
Id. The third suspect, armed with a hammer, went to
another set of display cases, looking for items of interest
to take. Id.
the suspects could take any of the jewelry, local officers
arrived on scene. Compl. ¶ 20. The suspects fled,
dropping a hammer and bag they had brought with them;
however, they were apprehended after a brief foot chase.
Id. The suspects were later identified as Murphy and
two other individuals from Detroit, Michigan. A fourth
suspect, who had been waiting in a getaway car, fled the
scene. Id. ¶ 21. This vehicle was later stopped
in Georgia, and the driver was placed under arrest - this
person was likewise from Detroit, Michigan.
whole, the nature of the smash and grab conspiracy was grave,
as it operated across the country for months and resulted in
the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of
jewelry. Murphy's allegedly active role in carrying out
the Jacksonville robbery was undeniably serious. The robbery
took place during the store's operating hours, thereby
placing store employees and potential customers in harm's
way. Indeed, Murphy is alleged to have used significant force
against the jewelry store employees. Murphy's claimed
lack of involvement and assertion of “mere
presence” at the scene of the robbery is unpersuasive
in light of the surveillance video and still photographs
incorporated in the Government's response to Murphy's
motion for bond. Given the disturbing nature of the attempted
robbery as demonstrated in the surveillance video,
Murphy's release would pose a substantial risk of danger
and, therefore, weighs in favor of his continued detention.
evaluating the second factor, the weight of the evidence
against a defendant, courts are to consider the “the
weight of the evidence of dangerousness, not the weight of
the evidence of the defendant's guilt.”
Stone, 608 F.3d at 948 (citing United States v.
Hazime, 762 F.2d 34, 37 (6th Cir. 1985)). The evidence
presented by the Government includes the surveillance video
of the attempted robbery and receipts for gloves and hammers
allegedly used during the robbery that were discovered in the
getaway car apprehended in Georgia. See Receipts,
Ex. B to Gov't Resp. (Dkt. 72-2). The Court has described
in detail the violence employed during the attempted robbery,
as captured on the video. The Government also proffers
evidence of social media posts by various alleged
co-conspirators. For example, only four days after Murphy was
arrested, an alleged co-conspirator, using the Instagram
account “doitfordiamond, ” re-posted a message
referencing “losing soldiers, ” and stating that
“y'all can't count us out
evidence demonstrates not only Murphy's dangerousness
through his alleged use of violence but also the relentless
nature of the robberies. Specifically, the social media posts
suggest that Murphy's alleged co-conspirators were not
deterred, even when other suspects were arrested. If
anything, the social media evidence suggests that arrests and
attention from the FBI only emboldened the crew. On June 18,
2019, only one week after Murphy's arrest, another
robbery took place at a jewelry store in Collierville,
Tennessee. Compl. ¶ 26. As in Jacksonville, a three-
member crew of robbers attempted to flee with diamonds and
jewelry with a combined retail value of $726, 817.
Id. This perseverance poses the danger that, were
Murphy to be released, he would resume his alleged
involvement in the robberies. The weight of the evidence
demonstrating Murphy's dangerousness and risk of flight,
therefore, favors detention.
evaluating the third factor, a defendant's history and
characteristics, courts are to consider, among other factors,
the defendant's physical and mental condition, family and
community ties, employment, financial resources, past
conduct, criminal history, and record concerning appearance
at court proceedings. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g)(3). While the
Court credits Murphy's family and community ties and his
prior employment, these factors do not sufficiently ...