United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. WATTERS, United States District Judge
November 14, 2016, Defendant Mason Lee Oster led Yellowstone
County Sheriffs Deputy Brandon Smart on a car chase, crashed
his car, stole another car, crashed it, and attempted to flee
on foot. He was unsuccessful and drugs and guns were found in
his car. When he was later interviewed, he provided
statements to law enforcement. Oster moves to suppress the
incriminating evidence and statements. (Doc. 20).
argues that because Deputy Smart's attempted seizure was
illegal and provoked his flight, all the subsequent events
that occurred after and evidence obtained must be suppressed.
(Doc. 21 at 4-11). After considering the parties'
briefing and exhibits, the Court DENIES the motion.
around 8:15 a.m. on November 14, 2016, Deputy Smart was
dispatched to investigate a suspicious vehicle parked on a
gravel road. The vehicle was reported to be a gray 1997
Nissan Maxima and a male was reportedly slumped over the
steering wheel. (Doc. 20-2). When Smart found the car, he saw
a male sitting in the driver's seat. (Doc. 20-1). When
Smart pulled up parallel to the car, the driver started the
car and began pulling away. Smart saw a female in the
passenger seat sit up as the driver drove off. Smart waved
his arm out of his window and yelled for the driver to stop
to talk. The driver sped away. Smart turned his car around,
activated his siren and overhead lights and pursued the car.
Maxima sped down the gravel road, across a highway, and
continued fleeing. Smart followed the Maxima at speeds of
45-65 miles per hour. The dust from the gravel road was too
thick for Smart to follow too closely. When the driver
attempted to navigate a turn, he lost control of the car and
drove off the road. (Id.).
Smart caught up, he saw the male and female running from the
Nissan and getting into a blue Chevy Suburban parked nearby.
The male got in the driver's seat and they took off again
down the road. Smart resumed his pursuit. As he was pursuing
them, speeds again reached between 45-60 miles per hour on
the gravel roads. The driver made an abrupt left turn into a
stubble field and began fleeing through the field. The field
was too rough for Smart to navigate with his patrol car, so
he advised dispatch he was discontinuing pursuit. He turned
off his lights and siren and watched the Chevy flee across
the field. Smart asked dispatch to check maps to see where
the driver might come out. Based on dispatch's report,
Lieutenant Kent O'Donnell advised he was in the area.
saw a large cloud of dust from a vehicle traveling
approximately two miles away. (Doc. 20-2). Shortly
thereafter, he saw a blue Chevy Suburban head south away from
him. He pursued the Suburban at speeds in excess of 60 miles
per hour down a dead end road. The driver ran the Suburban
through one barbed wire fence and stopped at the next fence.
O'Donnell saw the male and female jump out of the
Suburban and flee over another fence. He drove after them
with his sirens and lights activated. He caught them as they
were attempting to climb another fence. They gave up
attempting to flee and began to hug and kiss. O'Donnell
drew his Taser and ordered them back across the fence. As
they were crossing the fence, the male and female continued
to profess their love for each other. (Id.).
ordered them to lay face down, handcuffed them and placed
them in the backseat of his truck. They continued to cry and
profess their love for each other. According to
O'Donnell, both looked sickly and on drugs. O'Donnell
identified the male as Mason Lee Oster and the female as
Elizabeth Mary Ostwald. Oster was on probation and had an
outstanding warrant for his arrest. O'Donnell asked Oster
what the heck he was doing. Oster told O'Donnell that he
loaned his car to a friend and did not know what the friend
may have left in the car, so he got scared and ran.
O'Donnell laughed and told Oster he was full of it. Oster
told O'Donnell he knew there was drug paraphernalia in
the car. When O'Donnell asked him who owned the Suburban,
Oster said he didn't know and that he had just found the
keys in it. (Id.).
arrived and spoke with Oster, who was still in the backseat
of O'Donnell's truck. (Doc. 20-1). Smart asked Oster
if he wanted to give a recorded statement and Oster said yes.
Smart read Oster the Miranda Warning and Oster agreed to
provide a statement without an attorney present.
told Smart that he sped off because he was on probation and
had a warrant for his arrest. He admitted to using drugs and
admitted drugs and drug paraphernalia were in his car. He
also admitted that guns were in his car, and that he
suspected they were stolen, along with other stolen items in
his car. He told Smart he had been out in the area looking
for a place to ditch the stolen property so he did not get
caught with it. Oster explained that he had loaned his car to
a man and had just recently got it back. Oster said he met
the man through Facebook and thought he was from South Dakota
and was running drugs back and forth between there and
days later, Yellowstone County Sheriffs Office Detective
Serge Paris and United States Postal Service Inspector
Gregory Kosiarek interviewed Oster regarding stolen mail
found in his Nissan. Oster read and signed the Advice of
Rights and Waiver and agreed to be recorded. In the
interview, Oster said he was going to get rid of everything
in his car except the firearms, because he liked to shoot and
hunt. He described the firearms as a .22 caliber pistol and a
break away shotgun. He admitted he was a convicted felon and
knew he could not legally possess a firearm.
makes two arguments in support of his motion. First, Oster
argues that Smart lacked reasonable suspicion to attempt to
stop Oster when he initially found him on the dirt road. He
argues that the pursuit resulted from this illegal seizure
and so the evidence obtained thereafter must be suppressed.
Second, Oster argues that he provided statements without
being warned of his Miranda rights and ...