Heard: October 6, 2017.
pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Cornelius
J. Moriarty, II, J.
application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal
was allowed by Fernande R. V. Duffly, J., in the Supreme
Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk, and the appeal was
reported by her to the Appeals Court.
D. Nielson for the defendant.
Carolyn A. Burbine, Assistant District Attorney, for the
Present: Wolohojian, Maldonado, & Wendlandt, JJ.
issue is whether there was reasonable suspicion to stop the
defendant and search his backpack several hours after an
armed home invasion had occurred nearby. Taking judicial
notice of demographic data he located on his own initiative,
the Superior Court judge concluded there was reasonable
suspicion and denied the defendant's motion to suppress.
The demographic data should not have been relied upon, both
because the judge should not have expanded the factual record
with independent research taken on his own initiative without
notice to the parties and because they were not relevant.
Nonetheless, we affirm the denial of the motion to suppress
because we conclude that the facts elicited at the
evidentiary hearing established reasonable suspicion to stop
29, 2014, at approximately 3:05 A.M., East Bridgewater police
responded to the area of 601 North Central Street to
investigate a report of an armed home invasion with shots
fired. It was reported that a large amount of
cash and jewelry had been taken. The suspects were described
as several young black males, two of whom were carrying
backpacks. There was no further description of the men, their
features, or their appearance, except that they were said to
be wearing "regular clothes."
time after the home invasion, three black men fled from a red
Toyota Camry in front of 505 North Central Street, leaving
the doors of the vehicle open as they ran into neighboring
woods. 505 North Central Street is only about 100 yards from
the location of the home invasion.
number of officers converged on the scene. One of them,
Talitha Connor, stood near the abandoned Toyota while other
officers searched the woods. As she was positioned there,
Connor observed a black Acura driving up and down North
Central Street. Connor stopped the vehicle and asked its
driver, Ashley Smith, what she was doing. Smith responded
that she was lost and trying to get back to Brockton. Connor
allowed Smith to go on her way, but wrote the registration
number of the vehicle on her hand.
Dennis Andre was called in to duty around 5:00 A.M.
Andre's first assignment was to transport to the station
a slender-built black male who had been taken into custody in
connection with the home invasion. Andre then returned to the
area near the scene to continue patrolling for the two
suspects who remained at large.
approximately 7:15 A.M., Andre saw a dark-colored sedan
"bang a U-turn" in the middle of an intersection
during a red light. He stopped the vehicle, which was driven
by Ashley Smith, and radioed in the registration information.
Smith again explained she was lost and trying to get back to
Brockton. Andre gave Smith directions, which he testified as
just "basically two streets, and then you're [on]
Plain Street in Brockton." Smith responded that
"she was familiar with Plain Street in Brockton and
could make it home from there."
then returned to the station where he learned from Connor
about her earlier encounter with Smith, and the fact that
Smith had given both of them the same explanation for her
presence in the area. Because Connor had written the
registration on her hand, the two officers were ...