United States v. Young, No. 18-6221 (10th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Defendant Shane Young appeals the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress a confession. A sheriff's deputy witnessed Young's vehicle swerving on the roadway, and signaled for Young to stop his car. Young continued to drive, ultimately pulling into a nearby residential property, stopping his car, and fleeing on foot. The deputy pursued, tasing and arresting Young. After the arrest, the deputy retraced Young’s path and found a small case containing about four grams of a substance containing methamphetamine. Officers later found a black bag containing about 93 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine near where Young previously stopped his car. The deputy arrested and interviewed Young; Young admitted to possessing the smaller quantity of methamphetamine but denied that the larger quantity was his. Days later, while still held in the county jail, Young was interrogated by a Federal Bureau of Investigations Special Agent. The agent told Young he tried to help people in trouble, and would do his best to try and help. The agent then told Young he had met with the prosecutor about Young’s arrest. He said the prosecutor had met with the judge. The agent reiterated that Young needed to trust him, and he asked Young about the bag with the larger quantity of drugs in it, suggesting that Young could explain that he threw the bags in different directions as he ran from the car. In response, Young wondered aloud whether he should have a lawyer present. Following the agent's earlier suggestion, Young admitted that after he exited his vehicle, he lost his grip on the containers of methamphetamine, and they flew in different directions as he was running away. He also provided information about the source of the methamphetamine and about his drug-dealing activities. After his confession, Young was charged with possession with intent to distribute approximately 97 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. Although the court found the agent made false representations and improper promises of leniency that were “coercive in nature under the circumstances,” it ultimately concluded Young’s confession was not involuntary and denied his motion to suppress. Young pled guilty and was sentenced to 188 months’ imprisonment and five years’ supervised release. Under the totality of the circumstances, the Tenth Circuit concluded Young’s capacity for self-determination was critically impaired, rendering his confession involuntary. Judgment was vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on July 7, 2020.