United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
E. DOWDELL CHIEF JUDGE
Court has for its consideration the Motion to Suppress (Doc.
19) of Defendant Carnell Matthews, who is charged with
enticing a minor and receiving child pornography.
(See Doc. 23). Both charges stem from messages that
Mr. Matthews allegedly exchanged with “MV, ” a
16-year-old girl, via social media during a five-hour period
beginning April 30, 2019, and ending about 12:30 a.m. the
next morning. Mr. Matthews seeks to suppress statements he
made to Broken Arrow Police Department detectives when they
questioned him about the exchange during a July 10 interview
at his home. Although Mr. Matthews signed a form waiving his
Miranda rights prior to questioning, he claims that
the waiver and subsequent statements were not given
voluntarily, so anything he told to police during the
interaction should be barred at trial.
the voluntariness of a confession is in question, the
defendant is entitled to a hearing in which the underlying
factual issues and the voluntariness of his confession are
actually and reliably determined. Jackson v. Denno,
378 U.S. 368, 380 (1964); see also 18 U.S.C. §
3501(a); United States v. Janoe, 720 F.2d 1156, 1164
(10th Cir. 1983). Accordingly, the Court held a hearing on
October 16, 2019, during which the parties presented evidence
related to the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr.
Matthews's waiver and subsequent statements to police.
Background and Summary of the Evidence
2, 2019, MV's mother contacted the Broken Arrow Police
Department to report that her daughter had received sexually
explicit messages from a teacher in the Broken Arrow Public
Schools system. Investigators subsequently subpoenaed records
of the exchange from Snapchat, the social media platform
where the exchange occurred, and scheduled an interview with
Mr. Matthews for July 10 at the Broken Arrow police station.
When he failed to show for the interview, police obtained a
warrant for his arrest, and detectives Ian Buchanan and Mark
Carter were deployed to Mr. Matthews's residence in Tulsa
to conduct the interview and execute the warrant.
to Mr. Buchanan's testimony, when he and Mr. Carter
arrived, they spoke to Mr. Matthews briefly at the front door
and he agreed to speak with them in his home's attached
garage, which was empty and open to the driveway. When the
conversation turned to sensitive matters, Mr. Buchanan said,
the three moved to the driveway so as to be out of earshot of
Mr. Matthews's stepchildren, who were inside. The tenor
of the conversation was relaxed, according to Mr. Buchanan,
and Mr. Matthews never seemed like he was drunk. An audio
recording, which the government submitted to the Court but
did not play during the hearing, captured the interaction,
beginning with the move to the garage. (See Doc.
30-2). The recording largely corroborates Mr. Buchanan's
version of events.
Matthews, whose testimony was the only evidence offered in
support of his motion, gave a similar account, though it
differed in some material respects. He claimed, for example,
that on the day of the interview, he had been drinking since
7 a.m. By the time police arrived at about 2:15 p.m., he
said, he had consumed a dozen pints of beer and a pint of
whiskey. During the interview, he said, he was so unsteady on
his feet that he had to move from the garage to the driveway
so he could lean on a parked truck. The audio recording supports
Mr. Buchanan's characterization of the interaction as
amicable, but Mr. Matthews testified that one of the officers
raised his voice during the interview, causing him to feel
threatened. Mr. Matthews further testified that he understood
the Miranda warning that the detectives gave him but
did not understand why police were questioning him.
events captured on the government's audio recording can
be summarized as follows: After some brief chitchat, and
without telling Mr. Matthews why he was being interviewed,
one of the detectives delivered the Miranda warning,
reading from the Broken Arrow Police Department's
standard Miranda notice and waiver form, which Mr.
Matthews subsequently signed. A detective asked Mr. Matthews if
he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, to which Mr.
Matthews responded, “I've been drinking.”
“Do you feel drunk, ” one of the detectives
asked. “No, ” Mr. Matthews
answered. Neither Mr. Matthews nor the detectives
raised the issue of his intoxication, or lack thereof, again.
they completed the Miranda process, the three
proceeded to chat for several minutes about Mr.
Matthews's role as a coach and his job with Broken Arrow
Public Schools. Eventually, Mr. Matthews asked the detectives
why they wanted to talk to him. Rather than immediately
informing Mr. Matthews of the arrest warrant or the
allegations against him, the detectives slow-played the
interview. At first, they simply asked him if he used the
social media platform Snapchat and, if so, what his username
was. Mr. Matthews acknowledged using the app and said he had
done so under two usernames. In April, he said, someone had
“jacked” his original account, forcing him to
open a new one under a different username. Although he used
Snapchat to communicate with students, Mr. Matthews said, he
did so only in service of his teaching duties.
the detectives began to put their cards on the table, telling
Mr. Matthews that a student had reported exchanging sexually
explicit messages with him using the social media platform.
Confronted with the allegation, Mr. Matthews admitted to
receiving nude photos from MV and said that she and other
students had, unsolicited, used Snapchat to send
inappropriate messages to him. Asked how he responded when MV
sent him the photos on this occasion, Mr. Matthews said,
“I told her no. No. We can't. We can't do
this.” That was untrue, the detectives said. They had a
log of the messages from Snapchat. Mr. Matthews then admitted
to participating willingly in the exchange and to sending
photos of his genitals to MV. He had been drinking that
night, he said. When he had sobered up, he deleted the
Snapchat account. The real reason he had abandoned the
account was that he knew he should not have participated in
the exchange, he said, not the mysterious hack he had
thereafter, the detectives told Mr. Matthews that they had a
warrant for his arrest. His reaction was muted: “Ok,
” he said quietly. As the detectives put him in
handcuffs, he said, “I can't believe this is
happening.” After he had been placed in custody, Mr.
Matthews asked whether he could tell his stepchildren what
was happening, inquired as to what the booking process would
entail, and helped the officers to unlock his phone and find
his wife's telephone number so they could tell her of his
arrest. During the drive to the jail, Mr. Matthews engaged in
further small talk with the officers and assured them that,
when they searched his phone, they would find no images or
exchanges with other students.
Matthews argues that his statements to police should be
suppressed for two reasons. First, he argues that his
Miranda waiver was invalid because he was drunk when
he signed it and, at the time he did so, he did not know what
they intended to ask him. Second, Mr. Matthews argues that
police violated his due process rights by extracting an
order for a confession to be admissible under the Fifth
Amendment, law enforcement officers must inform the defendant
of his Miranda rights and the defendant must
knowingly, intentionally, and voluntarily waive those rights.
United States v. Smith, 606 F.3d 1270, 1276 (10th
Cir. 2010). A waiver is valid when it is “the product
of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation,
coercion, or deception” and made with a full awareness
of the nature of the rights being abandoned and the
consequences of abandoning them. Id. The mere fact
that a person has used drugs or alcohol will not overcome a
showing that the defendant “was ...