Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Slaughter: No Suppression of statement under Harris

In U.S. v. Slaughter, No. 11-15262 (Feb. 11, 2013), the Court affirmed convictions for use of the internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b).

The Court rejected the argument that the district court should have suppressed a statement Slaughter gave to police after they entered his home without a warrant, and brought him to the police station. The Court held that the statement need not be suppressed as the fruit of a poisonous entry. The police had probable cause to arrest Slaughter, and gave him his Miranda warnings at the station house. Under these circumstances, New York v. Harris (1990) does not require suppression of the statement.

The Court also rejected the argument that the district court should have severed the count that charged Slaughter as a registered sex offender from the other count. The Court recognized that the evidence that Slaughter was a registered sex offender was “prejudicial,” but the jury had already heard substantial, sexually explicit evidence that he intended to engage in sexual activity with two underage girls, and planned to meet them at a hotel room.

Finally, the Court rejected the argument that Slaughter could not be guilty of committing a felony offense involving a “minor” while being a registered sex offender, because he was not dealing with actual minors, but government agents posing as minors. The Court noted that the statute criminalizes attempts to entice minors, which does not require an actual minor.