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Commonwealth v. Tarjick

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Hampshire

May 18, 2015

Commonwealth
v.
Aaron M . Tarjick

Argued: December 3, 2014.

Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on September 22 and December 17, 2010.

A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Mary-Lou Rup, J., and the cases were tried before C. Jeffrey Kinder, J.

Elaine Fronhofer for the defendant.

Joseph A. Pieropan, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

Present: Kantrowitz, Green, & Meade, JJ.

OPINION

Page 375

[30 N.E.3d 126] Kantrowitz, J.

This matter involves the interplay between twenty-first century technology and twentieth century search and seizure principles. [30 N.E.3d 127] We hold that the police, while executing a search warrant for nude images of the defendant's thirteen year old stepdaughter on a video camera, cellular telephone (cell phone), and computer, were justified in seizing three memory cards from digital cameras that they came across.[1]

The defendant challenges the propriety of the order denying his motion to suppress the contents of a memory card removed from one of the digital cameras. He also challenges the admission at trial of enlarged photographs of one young female victim at various ages, the Commonwealth's references to the defendant's status as a prisoner, and the playing of two recordings of telephone calls that he made from jail. We affirm.

Background.

Carla[2] was the defendant's stepdaughter. She lived with her biological mother and the defendant, who were living together and were married when Carla was about seven or eight years old. Carla testified that in 2006, the defendant began sexually abusing and raping her. At one point, she indicated that the defendant took at least one sexually explicit photograph of her using his cell phone and made sexually explicit video recordings of her with a video camera. The police suspected that the defendant transferred or copied the images to the family computer because Carla told authorities that her mother had said that the defendant was viewing sexually explicit images of young girls on the computer. After Carla disclosed the abuse, she went to live with her biological father. The second victim, Nina, was Carla's ten year old friend from school. The defendant sexually abused Nina on multiple occasions when she visited.

Members of the State police obtained a warrant to search the defendant's home after Carla disclosed the abuse and information about the sexually explicit recordings. The warrant listed the defendant's cell phone, the family computer, and the family video camera as items to seize. The police " seized three memory cards that were in the camcorders or digital cameras." The memory cards were not included in ...


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