United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. JONES United States District Judge
jury has indicted Defendant Brandon Smith
("Defendant") on one count of Felon in Possession
of Ammunition, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and
924(a)(2). Now pending before the Court is Defendant's
Motion to Suppress Evidence. (ECF No. 30.) For the reasons
stated below, the Court denies the motion.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
morning of December 21, 2015, Reno Police Department
("RPD") officers responded to the area of 5th
Street and Virginia Street to several reports of shots fired.
(Police Report 8, ECF No. 31-2 at 9.) Dispatch also reported
that a gold or tan vehicle was seen leaving the area after
the shooting. (Id.) Officers were unable to find any
victims or the suspect vehicle, but recovered twelve .40
caliber shell casings in the parking lot of the Monte Carlo
Motel, located at 500 North Virginia Street. (Id.) A
silver Volkswagen Touareg with no plates was found parked on
the north side of Virginia Street just outside the Monte
Carlo, with four bullet strikes on or around the rear
passenger-side door. (Id.) In addition, a window
above the front entrance doors of the Silver Legacy Hotel and
Casino had been struck, but not penetrated, by a bullet.
witnesses near the scene reported hearing gunshots and seeing
a gold, light brown, or tan four-door sedan leave the area
immediately after the shooting stopped. (Id. at 8-9,
ECF No. 31-2 at 9-10.) On surveillance video of the Monte
Carlo parking lot, RPD officers observed one black male and
two white females walking down a stairwell and across the lot
toward the intersection of 5th and Virginia Street.
(Id. at 9, ECF No. 31-2 at 10.) A light-colored
four-door sedan reversed from the far east parking space, and
the vehicle's driver opened the door, placed his left
foot outside the car but remained seated in the driver's
seat, and started shooting in the direction of the black male
and two white females. (Id.) The vehicle then
reversed onto 5th Street and turned south into the alley
between Center Street and Virginia Street. (Id.)
However, no witnesses got a good look at the driver, and the
surveillance video is not clear enough to allow an
morning of December 23, 2015, RPD officers located the
suspect vehicle in the parking lot of the Castaway Motel at
525 West Second Street. (Supp. Report #5 at 2, ECF No. 31-8
at 3.) Surveillance video from the scene of the shooting and
photographs of the suspect vehicle in the Castaway Motel
parking lot appear to depict the same car: a gold four-door
sedan with apparent collision damage around the driver-side
headlight and a mismatched, black-rimmed tire on the front
driver's side. (See ECF Nos. 31-1, 31-6, 31-7.)
Officers determined the registered owner of the vehicle was
Delpha Kennison and that Kennison was a resident of the
Walker River Indian Reservation in Schurz, Nevada. (Supp.
Report #5 at 2, ECF No. 31-8 at 3.) Officers contacted the
chief of police in Shurz, who told the officers that Kennison
lived on the reservation with her family and a boyfriend
known as "Texas." (Id.) The chief also
told the officers that Texas's real name is Brandon
Smith. (Id.) Officers ran Brandon Smith's
information and determined that he had a criminal history and
roughly matched the build of the shooter from the Monte Carlo
around noon on December 23, RPD officers knocked on the door
of room 24 at the Castaway, which they had verified with the
manager's office was Brandon Smith's room.
(Id.) The room's registered tenant, Jay Long,
answered the door and told officers that Smith and Kennison
were sleeping in the room. (Id; Supp. Report #7 at
5, ECF No. 31-9 at 6.) Long consented to the officers'
entry, and the officers went in and woke up Smith and
Kennison. (Supp. Report #7 at 5, ECF No. 31-9 at 6.)
Defendant identified himself as Brandon Smith, and was placed
under arrest for outstanding warrants. (Id.) After
being handcuffed, Defendant asked one of the officers if they
were there because of the shooting at the Flamingo Motel.
(Id.) An officer asked Defendant if he wanted to
speak with her at the station and Defendant agreed.
(Id.) Defendant then volunteered: "[T]hat fool
shot me first... so I shot him back." (Id.)
Defendant stated that he had a gunshot wound over his ribs on
his right side. Officers examined the wound and saw bruising
and swelling. (Id.) The officer asked Defendant if
he needed medical attention, but he declined. (Id.
at 6, ECF No. 31-9 at 7.)
and Kennison gave the officers permission to search the motel
room and Kennison's car. (Id.) No firearm was
found, but a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson magazine was
discovered in the car. (Id.) Officers told Long why
they were there and Long agreed to talk to them. (Supp.
Report #6 at 1, ECF No. 31-10 at 2.) Long stated he was aware
of "the shooting" because he had heard Defendant
and Kennison talking about it a couple of days prior.
(Id.) However, the police report is not clear
whether Long was referring to the shooting that caused
Defendant's wound or the shooting captured on
surveillance video at the Monte Carlo. Long had also recently
seen Defendant with a black, semiautomatic firearm-possibly a
.45 caliber-but didn't know where it currently was.
then spoke to Kennison at the Castaway Motel, and she was
also cooperative. (Id.) She stated that "this
was a self-defense situation." (Id.) She said
she had been shot at by an unknown male while sitting in the
passenger seat of her vehicle near the Flamingo Motel, but
the bullet missed her and struck Defendant in his right side.
(Id.) Kennison was then interviewed again at the
Reno police station. (See Kennison Interview, ECF
No. 31-11.) She identified the man who shot Defendant as
"Shit Bag T." (RPD later confirmed that Shit Bag T
is Thomas Lamont Williams ("Williams").) (Supp.
Report #7 at 6, ECF No. 31-9 at 7.) Kennison said Defendant
and Williams were former cellmates and had bad blood from
their time in prison. (See Kennison Interview, ECF
No. 31-11.) Following some disputes, Williams was moved to
another cell, and since Defendant and Williams have been
released, Williams has harassed Defendant and Kennison and
tried to "start stuff with them on several occasions.
stated that on the night of December 19 or 20, 2015, while
Defendant, Kennison, and a friend were in the parking lot of
the Flamingo Motel, Williams fired one shot through the front
passenger-side window of Kennison's car, and the bullet
struck Defendant in his upper right side. The next day, Smith
said he had to go do "some things, " took
Kennison's car, and told Kennison to stay at the Castaway
while he was gone. (Id.) When Defendant returned to
the Castaway after the shooting at the Monte Carlo, he told
Kennison, "I think I got him." (Id.) When
asked by the interviewing officer how Kennison interprets
Defendant's statement, Kennison said: "What
everybody interprets that as. . . . My husband either went
and beat him up, or it got serious and he's dead."
Kennison further stated that Defendant told her there were
two women with Williams at the Monte Carlo, and that one of
the women "started firing at him so he shot back."
(Id.) Kennison also said that Defendant went out and
got a black semiautomatic handgun after being shot by
Williams, which Kennison saw and handled prior to the Monte
Carlo shooting. (Id.) She doesn't know where
Defendant got the gun or what happened to it. (Id.)
police station, Defendant was read his Miranda rights and
agreed to speak to an RPD officer. (See Smith
Interview, ECF No. 31-12.) Defendant admitted to being the
shooter at the Monte Carlo hotel on December 21, 2015.
(Id.) Specifically, Defendant stated that he had an
altercation with his former cellmate, Williams.
(Id.) Defendant and Williams did not get along as
cellmates because Williams would rinse out his colostomy bag
in their shared sink. (Id.) Both Smith and Williams
had been released from prison and had recently run into each
other multiple times in downtown Reno, during which
encounters Williams had threatened Defendant and Kennison.
(Id.) Defendant claimed that Williams had shot him
outside the Flamingo Motel. (Id.) After being shot,
Defendant did not go to the hospital because he knew the
police would be called due to the nature of the injury.
Defendant was shot at the Flamingo, he went to a friend's
house and borrowed a black, semiautomatic
handgun. (Id.) He then went to the Monte Carlo
Motel to conduct surveillance on the Flamingo Motel and to
look for Williams. (Id.) Defendant saw Williams come
down a stairwell at the Monte Carlo with two light-skinned
women. (Id.) Defendant said he heard a gunshot and
saw Williams reach for a gun, so he opened fire.
now moves for an order suppressing his confession on the
basis of the corpus delicti rule, arguing that the
government has insufficient independent evidence to
corroborate the confession and that the confession is
unreliable. (See Mot. Suppress, ECF No. 30.)