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Suppression of Evidence


Suppression of Evidence


7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Robert Miller

Case No.: 22-1896

Officials: Sykes, Chief Judge, and Scudder and Lee, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Suppression of Evidence

Police found Miller lying on the sidewalk, bleeding from an apparent gunshot wound. An officer rendering aid removed a vehicle key fob from Miller’s hand, dropping it on the ground. A car, parked 15-20 feet from Miller, had bullet holes in the rear driver’s side door. Officers checked whether there was anyone in the car. One officer shined his flashlight through the windshield and saw what he thought was blood on the front passenger seat. An officer picked up the key fob, the small device that controls the remote keyless entry system, and clicked a button. The car’s horn honked. Minutes later, an officer stated that he could see the barrel of a gun sticking out from under a hat on the front passenger seat. The car was towed to the police station. At the hospital, Miller said that he was using his girlfriend’s car. A database check showed that the impounded car was registered to Miller. The police obtained a warrant to search the car without mentioning the key fob. Police recovered the gun. DNA on the gun matched Miller’s. He was indicted for possessing a firearm as a felon.

Miller pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon but reserved the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress the firearm and other evidence found in his car. He argues that the police conducted an unlawful search by using his key fob to identify his car. The Seventh Circuit does not need to decide whether activating the key fob was a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Even if it was, the district court correctly held that the evidence was admissible under the independent-source doctrine.


Decided 05/23/23

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