Heard: April 4, 2017.
received and sworn to in the Taunton Division of the District
Court Department on July 10, 2014. A pretrial motion to
suppress evidence was heard by Thomas L. Finigan, J., and the
case was tried before him.
Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct
B. Zindroski for the defendant.
Stephen C. Nadeau, Jr., Assistant District Attorney (Shawn
Guilderson, Assistant District Attorney, also present) for
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, &
jury trial in the Taunton Division of the District Court
Department, the defendant, Kevin A. Mauricio, was convicted
of carrying a firearm without a license, in violation of G.
L. c. 269, § 10 (a); and receiving stolen property with
a value in excess of $250, in violation of G. L. c. 266,
§ 60. The charges stem from a search of the
defendant's backpack after he was arrested for possession
of a controlled substance and breaking and entering a
residence in Taunton. During the course of the search, the
police discovered a digital camera, a ring, and other items.
The firearm conviction was based on images retrieved after a
warrantless search of the digital camera. The images depicted
the defendant next to firearms later determined to have been
stolen. The receiving stolen property conviction was based on
the ring discovered in the defendant's backpack.
defendant appealed from the convictions, arguing that the
judge erred in denying the motion to suppress the images
discovered as the result of the warrantless search of the
digital camera, and that the evidence offered at trial was
insufficient to sustain the conviction of receiving stolen
property with a value in excess of $250. We granted the
defendant's application for direct appellate review, and
conclude that the warrantless search of the digital camera
constituted neither a valid search incident to arrest nor a
valid inventory search. Accordingly, the images discovered in
the unlawful search should have been suppressed. We conclude
further that, although the evidence was insufficient to
sustain the conviction of receiving stolen property with a
value in excess of $250, a conviction of the lesser included
offense must stand.
summarize the judge's findings of fact on the motion to
suppress the images, supplementing where appropriate with
uncontroverted testimony from the suppression hearing.
Commonwealth v. Melo, 472 Mass. 278, 286 (2015). We
reserve for later the recitation of the facts germane to the
defendant's argument that the evidence presented at trial
was insufficient to sustain the conviction of receiving
28, 2014, Taunton police Officer Brett Collins received a
report that two "suspicious parties" were seen
running out of the side door of a residence on Downing Drive
in Taunton. According to the neighbor who called in the
report, one of the individuals was a man wearing a dark
hooded sweatshirt and red gloves and carrying a backpack. The
second person, a female, was wearing a gray sweatshirt.
thereafter, Collins located two individuals nearby largely
matching the neighbor's descriptions. The man was
identified as the defendant. Following a brief conversation,
Collins pat frisked the defendant and searched his backpack.
Inside the backpack, Collins found various items, including
the digital camera at issue, jewelry, hypodermic needles,
prescription medications, and coins. Collins then drove the
defendant back to Downing Drive, where the neighbor who made
the report identified the defendant as the man he saw running
from another residence on the street. The police arrested the
police station, Detective Dora Treacy, the evidence officer
for the Taunton police department, conducted an inventory
search of the defendant's backpack. Believing the camera
to have been stolen, Treacy, in the course of her inventory
search, turned the camera on and viewed the digital images it
contained in the hope of identifying its "true"
owner. In doing so, Treacy came across an image of a man with
firearms. Because Treacy knew a fellow detective, Michael
Bonenfant, had been investigating a housebreak on Plain
Street in Taunton where two firearms and jewelry had been
reported stolen, Treacy showed Bonenfant the digital images.
suspecting that the firearms in the digital images matched
the firearms stolen from the Plain Street residence,
contacted the homeowner and showed him a printed photograph
of one of the digital images. After viewing the photograph,
the homeowner confirmed that the firearms and ...