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United States v. Bell

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

April 4, 2019, Argued; June 3, 2019, Decided

No. 17-3505


 [*367]  St. Eve, Circuit Judge. Mark Turner persuaded Demontae Bell to help him sell several stolen firearms. When Turner later ran into trouble with the law, he cooperated with law enforcement, provided information about the sale, and aided the government in targeting Bell. As a result, Bell was arrested.

Upon Bell's arrest, an officer opened Bell's flip phone and viewed a photograph of a firearm on the home screen in what was likely an unconstitutional search. Yet the district court declined to suppress the evidence obtained from the phone because the government subsequently obtained valid search warrants for it. Bell challenges this suppression decision on appeal. Bell also argues that his statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial [**2]  were violated due to continuances granted by the district court and the nearly two-year delay between his indictment and trial.

We conclude that the search warrants were supported by probable cause and that Bell's speedy trial rights were not violated. We therefore affirm.

I. Background

On November 6, 2014, Mark Turner robbed his coworker's home. He stole two AR-15 rifles, one AK-47 rifle, one Glock pistol, and a rifle that he later discovered was a pellet gun. Turner then brokered a deal with the defendant in this case, Demontae Bell. If Bell helped Turner sell the guns, he could keep some of the proceeds. Turner and Bell sold three of the guns in exchange for drugs and money. As part of his compensation, Turner gave Bell a good deal on the two unsold guns—the AK-47 and the pellet gun.

Turner was later arrested on charges related to manufacturing methamphetamine. He agreed to cooperate with law enforcement and confessed to stealing the firearms from his coworker's home. Turner stated that he sold them to a drug dealer known to him as "Jay" in exchange for money and cocaine. The FBI and Peoria, Illinois police then targeted "Jay" (who turned out to be Bell), attempting to recover the AK-47. [**3] 

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925 F.3d 362 *; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 16534 **

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. DEMONTAE BELL, Defendant-Appellant.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 1:15-cr-10029-JES-JEH-1 — James E. Shadid, Judge.

United States v. Bell, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52651 (C.D. Ill., Apr. 20, 2016)


district court, phone, search warrant, speedy trial, probable cause, arrest, continuance, cellphone, firearms, recording, counts, speedy trial right, gun, illegal search, discovery, motions, clock, suppress, stolen, supporting affidavit, defense counsel, law enforcement, indictment, video, independent source, trial date, cooperate, reasons, burglary victim, text message

Criminal Law & Procedure, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Conclusions of Law, Clearly Erroneous Review, Findings of Fact, Exclusionary Rule, Exceptions to Exclusionary Rule, Independent Source Doctrine, Search & Seizure, Search Warrants, Probable Cause, Confidential Informants, Appeals, De Novo Review, Affirmations & Oaths, Sufficiency Challenges, Search & Seizure, Speedy Trial, Statutory Right, Excludable Time Periods, Abuse of Discretion, Speedy Trial, Preliminary Proceedings, Statutory Right, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Constitutional Right