United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION UNDER 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE BY A
PERSON IN FEDERAL CUSTODY
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Petitioner's Motion
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody. Dkt. #1. On March
17, 2016, the Undersigned entered Judgment in
Petitioner's criminal case. United States v.
Koh, CR15-98RSM, Dkt. #88 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 17, 2016).
Petitioner was adjudged guilty of three offenses and
sentenced to sixty months in prison. Id. Petitioner
now seeks relief from that sentence on the basis that his
arrest was in violation of his constitutional rights, that he
received ineffective assistance of counsel, and that evidence
of his possession of handguns should have been suppressed.
Dkt. #1 at 4-8. The Court has determined that an evidentiary
hearing is not necessary. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). After
considering the briefing and the remainder of the record, and
for the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the §
Junne Koh immigrated from South Korea to Washington State
with his family around 1979. In 1984, Petitioner killed one
of his brothers and was convicted of second-degree murder and
was sentenced to 123 months in prison. After completing his
sentence, he was ordered removed, and was deported to South
Korea in 1992. Shortly thereafter, Petitioner assumed his
dead brother's identity and illegally reentered the
family apparently continued to live in Washington and in
2014, Petitioner returned to Washington to locate his family.
When he could not locate them, he became concerned and
contacted the Bellevue Police Department. Using his
brother's name, Petitioner filed a missing persons
report. Police contacted Petitioner at his parents' home
to investigate the report and ultimately discovered that
Petitioner possessed a handgun in the house and another
handgun in a storage locker. Police also determined that
Petitioner had obtained a Washington State Identification
Card under his brother's identity. Law enforcement was
not able to contact Petitioner in person until several months
later, when he was arrested in Los Angeles, California.
was extradited to Washington where he confessed to law
enforcement and was ultimately prosecuted for federal crimes.
In defense, Petitioner argued, among other things, that the
officers had acted unconstitutionally in their interaction at
his parents' house and in their discovery of the
handguns. Petitioner sought to suppress statements he had
made to law enforcement and evidence obtained from his
parents' house and his storage locker, including the
the suppression hearing turned on law enforcement's
investigation into Petitioner's missing persons report
and the interactions between Petitioner and law enforcement
during their contact at Petitioner's parents' home,
additional background is necessary. Petitioner filed a
missing persons report with the Bellevue Police Department in
early June 2014, indicating that he had arrived in the area
in February and had been unable to locate his family. He had
recently been contacted by his mother who indicated that his
family was in California but would not provide a specific
location. Petitioner indicated that he suspected either that
Jehovah Witnesses may have kidnapped his parents or that his
parents' next-door neighbor may be involved. Through
their initial investigation, law enforcement learned of the
1984 murder in the family and that the next-door neighbor
found it unusual that he had not seen Petitioner's
parents for several months. The neighbor also indicated that
Petitioner had told him that Petitioner had purchased a rifle
because he did not feel safe. The initial investigator
indicated concern as to Petitioner's mental state.
Police Detectives Jerald Johnson and Andy Norton followed up
on the initial investigation. Johnson learned that
Petitioner's brother had apparently quit his janitorial
job in February of 2014. Officers went to Petitioner's
parents' house to contact Petitioner. The following
relevant facts were presented to the Court during the
Around 10:45 a.m. on June 17, 2014, Johnson and [Norton]
drove to [Petitioner] at his parents' house. They arrived
in an unmarked police vehicle and wore plain clothes with
their firearms hidden. The detectives knocked on the door to
[Petitioner's] residence and [Petitioner] answered. He
identified himself as [his brother] and Johnson recognized
him from the Washington State driver's license photo.
The detectives identified themselves, told [Petitioner] they
were responding to his complaint about his missing parents,
and asked if they could come in. [Petitioner] invited them
inside. While they were all in the living room, [Petitioner]
reiterated the information he had provided in the missing
persons reports he submitted to the city council and police
department, including that he suspected two Jehovah Witnesses
and the next-door neighbor as being involved in his
family's kidnapping. He said he suspected his neighbor
because his neighbor had a California area code on his cell
phone and the number [Petitioner's] family had called
from in June had the same area code.
Johnson testified that [Petitioner] was “very polite
and welcoming” and asked the officers to call him
“Sam, ” which they did. Johnson said [Petitioner]
was anxious to share information regarding his missing
family. Johnson further testified that [Petitioner] seemed
“nervous” and his hands were shaking. Johnson
said that while [Petitioner] was “very intent in
providing us with information related to” his
family's disappearance, “he would get defensive
when I'd ask him certain questions about the
disappearance and some of his actions.” On
cross-examination Johnson said [Petitioner] acted defensively
when Johnson asked him why he had waited several months to
report his family as missing and why he told his neighbor
that his family was on vacation in California if [Petitioner]
thought they were missing.
Johnson and Nelson also both testified that while they were
discussing the situation, [Petitioner] said if he found out
his neighbor was involved in the kidnapping of his parents,
“he would go next door and shoot him.” Also
during the interview, [Petitioner] sometimes went to a
different room about four feet off the living room and
returned with documents, some of which were in protective
sleeves. One of the documents he provided to detectives was a
pamphlet related to suicide prevention, which [Petitioner]
said he took comfort in reading.
Nelson said that after [Petitioner] commented about shooting
his neighbor, the detectives were “a little bit
alarmed” that there might be a firearm in the house and
were worried about their own safety. Based on
[Petitioner's] comments, his production of the pamphlet
on suicide prevention, and his demeanor, Johnson started
accompanying [Petitioner] as he went to the other room to
retrieve documents. Johnson would walk the approximate four
feet to the bedroom door and then stand in the hallway while
[Petitioner] went into the room. According to Nelson, Johnson
started following [Petitioner] to “make sure that, just
for our safety, that he wasn't getting a gun or anything
like that.” As a result, Johnson noticed blankets and
other items at the end of the hallway. At one point Johnson
asked [Petitioner] if he could take a look around the house
to if there was anything that might be related to the
disappearance of [Petitioner's] family. [Petitioner]
agreed and accompanied Johnson as he looked around the house.
When they walked down the hallway, Johnson asked [Petitioner]
why he had a sleeping area set up in the hallway.
[Petitioner] responded that he slept there to avoid being
kidnapped. Johnson also noticed padlocks attached to some of
the doors in the hallway. [Petitioner] claimed he felt safer
having padlocks on the doors so no one could come through
bedroom windows without him knowing.
While looking at the bedding in the hallway, Johnson noticed
in plain view a knife, and a handgun on top of a holster,
sitting on the floor. Johnson picked up the firearm and the
knife and brought them to Norton in the living room to hold.
He also explained to [Petitioner] why he was taking the
handgun, which turned out to be loaded.
Johnson said he confiscated the handgun and knife based on
the report of [Petitioner's] missing family, which
Johnson considered questionable; [Petitioner's] comments
about potentially shooting his neighbor; the
suicide-prevention pamphlet; seeing that [Petitioner] had
been sleeping on the floor with padlocks on bedroom doors so
no one could get to him; and also because [Petitioner] became
annoyed whenever Johnson pushed him on certain details of his
report, all of which Johnson thought raised safety concerns.
When Johnson asked [Petitioner] if he had any other weapons,
[Petitioner] said he had another firearm in a storage unit.
After Johnson finished looking for information related to the
missing persons report, he sought to confiscate the second
firearm for community safety reasons, especially in light of
the fact that there was a car in the driveway to which