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United States v. Hamilton

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

April 20, 2016

ANTHONY M. HAMILTON, Defendant, Appellee.


Stylianus Sinnis, Assistant Federal Public Defender, with whom Federal Public Defender Office was on brief, for appellant.

Mark T. Quinlivan, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Carmen M. Ortiz, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch, Thompson, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

LYNCH, Circuit Judge

Anthony Hamilton entered a conditional guilty plea to armed bank robbery and related firearm charges, reserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. On appeal, he challenges the denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized during a warrantless search of a residence by police. The sole issue is whether the police had a reasonable belief that another man, Tommy Smith, lived at and would be present at that residence on February 16, 2011, thus permitting the police to enter the residence to execute an arrest warrant for Tommy Smith. Hamilton argues that the information about Tommy Smith's residence was not recent or certain enough to support such a reasonable belief. We affirm.


We recite the facts as found by the district court in its denial of the motion to suppress, consistent with record support. United States v. Cardona-Vicente, No. 15-1188, 2016 WL 1211860, at *1 (1st Cir. Mar. 29, 2016).

On December 16, 2010, a man robbed a bank in Malden, Massachusetts. The robber demanded money from a teller and received $4, 700. As the robber attempted to leave the bank, a bank employee activated a "man-trap" mechanism that locked the robber between the inside of the bank and the outside of the building.[1] The robber broke out by pulling out a handgun and firing several rounds into the exit door.

A description of the robber, along with information from other bank robberies in the area that police believed may have been connected, was posted on a website called Mass. Most Wanted. An anonymous tip, delivered via the website on January 5, 2011, suggested that the suspect in another bank robbery in Westford, Massachusetts, looked like someone named Anthony Hamilton.

A police investigator obtained a driver's license photo and booking photograph of Hamilton, who had a prior criminal history. He compared those photos with surveillance camera images of the Malden robber and concluded it was the same person. The investigator also determined that Hamilton was on probation and he contacted Hamilton's state probation officer, who identified the Malden robber in a surveillance camera image as Hamilton.

The investigation yielded several potential addresses for Hamilton. The main address was a Charlestown, Massachusetts, address that appeared on Hamilton's criminal record, driver's license, and outstanding state court probation warrants. A public database also associated the name Anthony Hamilton with 16 Harrow Street in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Hamilton's name was not associated with 16 Harrow Street in any postal, utility, or criminal records. The police nonetheless focused on 16 Harrow Street and found that an individual named Tommy Smith received mail at that address. Tommy Smith had an outstanding arrest warrant for motor vehicle violations, issued on January 11, 2011, that listed 16 Harrow Street as his address. Tommy Smith was also connected to 16 Harrow Street by a public database, booking reports, a National Insurance Crime Bureau accident report, and credit bureau reports. Additionally, a car seen parked outside 16 Harrow Street was registered to someone with the surname Smith.

At some point in January, police installed a pole camera on Harrow Street for surveillance purposes. Neither Hamilton nor Tommy Smith was ever positively identified from the continuous pole camera footage taken on the street.[2]

On February 14, 2011, an arrest warrant was issued for Hamilton. The Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Squad, the Boston Police Department Special Operations Squad, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Bank Robbery Task Force agreed to coordinate to execute Tommy Smith's warrant at 16 Harrow Street. Officers from the three groups were informed at a briefing that they were entering 16 Harrow Street to ...

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