Submitted: May 16, 2018
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - St. Paul
BENTON, KELLY, and STRAS, Circuit Judges.
found Malcolm Roy Evans guilty of four offenses arising out
of a bank robbery. We affirm his convictions and sentence.
armed with a sawed-off shotgun robbed a Wells Fargo branch in
Moorhead, Minnesota, and absconded with approximately $10,
000. As he left the bank, he jumped into the back of a van
that he found parked near the bank's front entrance. The
driver escaped and took her keys with her. The robber then
fled on foot. Soon thereafter, he carjacked someone else, who
drove him at gunpoint to the West Acres Mall in Fargo, North
Dakota, right across the border from Moorhead. Once there,
the robber forced the driver out of the car and sped off. The
police found the car a short distance from the mall.
security footage, the police identified Evans as the
perpetrator. The day after the robbery, they arrested him in
Fargo as he left a Motel 6, where he was renting two rooms.
The police then obtained a warrant to search the rooms and
found over $2, 000 in cash, a sawed-off shotgun, and items of
clothing matching those the bank robber had worn.
United States charged Evans with armed bank robbery,
attempted carjacking, carjacking, forcing a person to
accompany him while attempting to avoid apprehension, and
kidnapping. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1201(e), 2113(a), (d)-(e),
2119(1). The kidnapping charge was dismissed before trial. A
jury found him guilty of the remaining four counts, and the
district court sentenced him to 360 months in prison.
Evans raises five arguments on appeal, which we address in
the order they arose.
in the first of his five arguments, challenges the
sufficiency of the affidavit underlying the search warrant,
which he believes lacked probable cause. The district court
denied Evans's motion to suppress the evidence found in
the search of his motel rooms. "In reviewing the denial
of [a] motion to suppress, we review the district court's
. . . legal conclusions de novo." United
States v. Ahumada, 858 F.3d 1138, 1139 (8th Cir. 2017).
"Probable cause exists if under the totality of the
circumstances, a showing of facts can be made sufficient to
create a fair probability that evidence of a crime will be
found in the place to be searched." United States v.
Wallace, 550 F.3d 729, 732 (8th Cir. 2008) (per curiam)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
argues that an affidavit from a detective who investigated
the bank robbery, which the police submitted as part of the
search-warrant application, did not adequately connect him to
the crime. See United States v. Salter, 358 F.3d
1080, 1084 (8th Cir. 2004). In his view, the bank security
footage relied upon by the detective in investigating the
robbery was insufficient to establish probable cause, and the
other evidence was too inconclusive to establish his identity
as the bank robber. We disagree.
affidavit contained a lot more than just conjecture about the
identity of the bank robber. It explained how the detective
conducted the investigation, including his examination of
video footage from a local bus, which depicted a man whose
appearance was "consistent with" the bank robber.
He then tracked the man's movements and discovered that
the timelines of the bus passenger and the bank robber
matched. The bus passenger arrived at the bank shortly before
the robbery, and the same man later boarded a bus where the
robber had abandoned the carjacking victim. At least three
people who knew Evans identified him from the bus footage.
Two of those people also said Evans owned a sawed-off
shotgun, which was the weapon used to commit the crimes.
Because the affidavit showed that Evans had the means and
opportunity to commit the crimes, it established a fair
probability that he was the bank robber.
also argues that even if there was reason to suspect he was
the robber, the affidavit did not establish that the police
would find evidence in his motel rooms. See United States
v. Tellez, 217 F.3d 547, 550 (8th Cir. 2000). His
argument is unpersuasive. The bus footage showed a man
identified as Evans, who had a backpack, taking the bus from
the West Acres Mall to a stop near the Motel 6. Evans then
boarded another bus a short time later, this time without the
backpack. The police knew Evans had two rooms at the Motel 6,
so they could reasonably infer that Evans went from the scene
of the crime to the motel to hide his shotgun and the stolen
money. The police arrested Evans the next day as he was
leaving the motel, suggesting that both the weapon and the
loot might still be inside. The affidavit therefore
established a "fair probability" that the police
would find evidence from the bank robbery in one or both of
his motel rooms. Id. at 549.
second challenge focuses on the numerous letters he sent to
the district court, which he now characterizes as requests
for new counsel. He says the district court should have
granted him a new attorney, even though he never actually
asked for one.
their content varied, Evans's letters primarily
complained about his attorney's failure to share evidence
with him. Some letters also focused on his attorney's
decision not to pursue certain defense theories. At one
point, he asked the court to direct his legal team to
"get on the ball." The district court did not
directly respond to any of Evans's letters.
pretrial hearing, however, the court inquired about the
letters. Evans responded:
I've been wanting to do a speedy trial, but those issues
are still those issues. I have still, in my opinion, not seen
all of the evidence in my case. . . . I want to go on the
record with that and let you all know that, and at ...