United States v. Serrano-Acevedo

United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit No. 16-2009 UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. HECTOR SERRANO-ACEVEDO, Defendant, Appellant. No. 16-2049 UNITED STATES, Appellee, v. VIRGILIO DIAZ-JIMENEZ, Defendant, Appellant. APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO [Hon. Juan M. Pérez-Giménez, U.S. District Judge] Before Lynch, Kayatta, and Barron, Circuit Judges. Rafael F. Castro Lang for appellant Hector Serrano-Acevedo. James L. Sultan, with whom Kerry A. Haberlin and Rankin & Sultan were on brief, for appellant Virgilio Diaz-Jimenez. Nicholas W. Cannon, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, and Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, were on brief, for appellee. June 13, 2018 LYNCH, Circuit Judge. We address in this case important questions of Fourth Amendment protections in a person's home. As we did in United States v. Delgado-Pérez, 867 F.3d 244 (1st Cir. 2017), we conclude that the government overstepped the mark and that a motion to suppress the fruits of a warrantless search of a defendant's home in Puerto Rico should have been granted. Virgilio Diaz-Jimenez ("Diaz") and Hector Serrano- Acevedo ("Serrano"), after a joint trial, were found guilty of armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113, and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924. Both defendants challenge their convictions, arguing that key portions of the evidence introduced against them were improperly admitted. Diaz argues that the government's warrantless search of his home violated his Fourth Amendment rights and that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress the evidence uncovered during that search. Finding that the government's search does not fit within the protective sweep or voluntary consent exceptions under Fourth Amendment doctrine, the only even arguably relevant exceptions to the warrant requirement, we hold that the search of Diaz's home was unconstitutional. The evidence uncovered during that search was central to the prosecution's case at trial, rendering this error prejudicial. We vacate Diaz's conviction and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. - 3 - Serrano, the other defendant, argues that several testimonial statements made during the trial, some of which referenced statements made by a confidential informant who did not testify, were impermissible hearsay testimony. If there was any error, it was harmless, so we affirm Serrano's conviction. I. Facts We review the district court's "legal conclusions involved in denying a motion to suppress the evidence de novo and its findings of fact for clear error." Delgado-Pérez, 867 F.3d at 250 (quoting United States v. Marshall, 348 F.3d 281, 284 (1st Cir. 2003)). "On a motion to suppress evidence seized on the basis of a warrantless search, the presumption favors the defendant, and it is the government's burden to demonstrate the legitimacy of the search." Id. (quoting United States v. Winston, 444 F.3d 115, 123-24 (1st Cir. 2006)). Two armed men entered the Oriental Bank in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico around 8:30 ...

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