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Commonwealth v. Freeman

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex

June 3, 2015

Commonwealth
v.
Ronald Freeman

Argued December 4, 2014.

Amended July 3, 2015.

Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on January 17, 2012.

A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Garry V. Inge, J.

An application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal was allowed by Francis X. Spina, J., in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk, and the appeal was reported by him to the Appeals Court.

Order allowing motion to suppress reversed.

Eric A. Haskell, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

Rebecca Kiley, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for the defendant.

Present: Kafker, Grainger, & Agnes, JJ.

OPINION

[42 N.E.3d 618] Agnes, J.

This is an interlocutory appeal arising out of indictments charging the defendant, Ronald Freeman, with unlawful possession of heroin with the intent to distribute in violation of G. L. c. 94C, § 32( a ), second or subsequent offense, G. L. c. 94C, § 32( b ); and unlawful possession of heroin in a school zone in

Page 449

violation of G. L. c. 94C, ยง 32J. The sole question presented for our consideration is whether the observation of an exchange between two men in the street made by an experienced narcotics investigator provided him with probable cause to believe a drug transaction had occurred. Based on the investigator's observation of two men on a street corner counting money, one of whom was known to be a drug user, the nature of the exchange that took place moments later between one of those two men and the defendant, and the location in which the events took place, we conclude the detective had probable cause to make an arrest. However, we also conclude that a subsequent warrantless search of a cellular telephone (cell phone) seized by the ...


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