United States v. Brewer

An FBI task force identified Brewer as being present at banks just before robberies, determined that Brewer lived with Pawlak, in Gary, Indiana, and observed a Toyota matching the one from the robberies parked outside their residence. An officer obtained a state court warrant, which permitted the use of a “tracking device … in any public or private area ... within the State of Indiana.” An officer monitored Brewer's car until it arrived in Los Angeles, unaware of the limitation, saw it circling a Los Angeles bank, and notified local officers, who observed Brewer and Pawlak near the bank. When they returned, Pawlak got out of the car, approached the tellers, held up a robbery note, and ran out of the bank with about $1,000. Officers stopped their car, arrested Brewer and Pawlak, and found a bag of cash. Brewer was charged in Indiana with three counts of bank robbery, 18 U.S.C. 2113(a) and lost a motion to suppress regarding the tracking device. The government presented evidence of the Ohio and California robberies, eyewitness testimony identifying Brewer as present before the robberies, and surveillance footage. Convicted, Brewer was sentenced to 137 months in prison. He had been convicted in California; the Indiana sentence added 12 months in custody. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The in-state limitation did not reflect a probable-cause finding or a particularity requirement; the Fourth Amendment is unconcerned with state borders. The evidence of the unindicted robberies was directly probative of Brewer’s identity, modus operandi, and intent, and fell within the bounds of Federal Rule 404(b)(2). View "United States v. Brewer" on Justia Law