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United States v. Shoulderblade

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

January 18, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DEREK DEXTER SHOULDERBLADE, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Dana L. Christensen, Chief Judge

         Before the Court is Defendant Derek Dexter Shoulderblade's ("Shoulderblade") Motion to Suppress (Doc. 16). Shoulderblade moves the Court to suppress inculpatory statements he provided during a custodial interview held on September 19, 2017, based upon his assertion that the interviewing agents ignored his invocation of his right to remain silent and continued the interview in violation of this right. (Id. at 2.) The Government opposes this Motion. (Doc. 22.) For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted.

         Factual Background

          Shouldberblade has been charged with second degree murder in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1153(a), 111. (Doc. 3 at 1-2.) On September 19, 2017, Shoulderblade returned a phone call to Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Agent John Dodd ("Dodd") which resulted in Shoulderblade reporting to the police station in Lame Deer, Montana, for a "conversation" with Dodd and Federal Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Aaron Christensen ("Christensen"). (Doc. 19 at 2-3.) Because there was a warrant for Shoulderblade's arrest, the Agents informed Shoulderblade that he was in custody and, "out of an overabundance of caution, " explained his rights and presented him with an Advice of Rights Form. (Id. at 3-8.) The Advice of Rights form was described as "a formality" which the Agents needed Shoulderblade to sign if he was willing to tell the Agents his "side of the story." (Id. at 7.) Shoulderblade then waived his rights by signing the form and was interrogated for nearly an hour and a half.

         The Agents began by talking to Shoulderblade about his MMA fighting, his age, family, life, regrets, faith, and honesty. (Id. at 8-19.) Shoulderblade then began to tell his story concerning the night in question. (Id. at 19-37.) The Agents then told Shoulderblade that they believed he was "leaving some stuff out." (Id. at 37.) Shoulderblade attempted to clarify and continued his story until the Agents pointed out that his story was inconsistent. (Id. at 37-48.) The Agents then detailed what effect inconsistencies could have on later prosecution of Shoulderblade's case, told him that they were going to "start over, " and expressed their understanding of the circumstances which could induce someone to commit a crime before stating that they didn't think he "meant to kill him." (Id. at 48-53.) When Shoulderblade asked the Agents what they meant, they drew his attention to a video camera near the scene of the crime and told him to "think about the implication of the fact that there's a video camera .. . [a]nd consider that Agent Dodd has already told you we don't like to ask questions that we don't know the answer to." (Id. at 53.)

         When Shoulderblade stated that he wanted to see the video, the Agents told him that they did not have the video. (Id. at 53-54.) The Agents then asked Shoulderblade if the video was going to implicate him and whether he and the victim had an altercation on the night in question. (Id. at 54.) Shoulderblade replied no. (Id.)

         At this point, the Agents confronted Shoulderblade with some of the inconsistencies in his statement and the following exchange took place:

SA DODD: But right now is not a time to protect other people, right now is the time to be honest. Because like I say, right now, you know, you're in a good place right now. Okay? But when you start lying to us, you're not in a good place, dude. Okay?
DEREK SHOULDERBLADE: Mm-hmm.
SA DODD: Okay. So let's start over from - let's just forget about this and let's start over from the beginning. We don't need to do any more maps, we think we know, but let's start over from the beginning that - that night. Okay? So let me start asking you some questions then, okay?
DEREK SHOULDERBLADE: No, I don't want to answer any further questions until I see video.
SA DODD: Well, we don't have the video either. That's what we were trying to tell - we were -
DEREK SHOULDERBLADE: So are you guys just - SA DODD: - we were asking you -
DEREK SHOULDERBLADE: - you guys are j ust kind of -
SA DODD: No, no, no, what we're saying -
DEREK SHOULDERBLADE: - putting - you guys are ...

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