Heard: September 7, 2018.
received and sworn to in the New Bedford Division of the
District Court Department on May 28, 2014. A pretrial motion
to suppress evidence was heard by James J. McGovern, J.
application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal
was allowed by David A. Lowy, J., in the Supreme Judicial
Court for the county of Suffolk, and the appeal was reported
by him to the Appeals Court.
Stephen C. Nadeau, Assistant District Attorney, for the
P. DeMello for the defendant.
Present: Green, C.J., Milkey, & Singh, JJ.
an investigation of suspected drug sales by Bryan Simpson,
police obtained and executed a warrant to search the
apartment in which they believed Simpson and the defendant,
Jillian M. Silva, lived. The defendant was subsequently
charged with possessing both class A and class B drugs with
the intent to distribute and with conspiracy to violate the
drug law. The defendant made a motion to suppress the
evidence obtained in the search, and a judge of the District
Court allowed the motion based on his conclusion that the
information submitted in support of the search warrant
application was inadequate to establish probable cause. After
obtaining leave from a single justice of the Supreme Judicial
Court, see Mass. R. Crim. P. 15 (a) (2), as appearing in 474
Mass. 1501 (2016), the Commonwealth appealed. We reverse.
review of the sufficiency of an application for a search
warrant "begins and ends with the 'four corners of
the affidavit'" supporting it. Commonwealth
v. O'Day, 440 Mass. 296, 297 (2003),
quoting Commonwealth v. Villella,
39 Mass.App.Ct. 426, 428 (1995). We summarize the facts
recited in the May 23, 2014, affidavit executed by Detective
Daniel Amaral, an experienced New Bedford police detective
assigned to a unit specializing in narcotics investigations.
the week of May 4, 2014, Amaral was told by a confidential
informant (CI) that an individual the CI knew as
"Bryan" was engaged in a "crack" cocaine
delivery service. The CI had been purchasing crack cocaine
for over a month, and gave a physical description of Bryan.
As described by the CI, the CI would call a telephone number
to speak to Bryan, after which Bryan would designate a time
and location to meet the CI to complete the purchase. The CI
said that Bryan sometimes arrived at the purchase location in
a gold-colored vehicle with a strap holding down the trunk,
which was driven by a woman.
consulting with other members of the narcotics investigation
unit, Detective Amaral learned that another detective in that
unit (Detective Sergeant Marc Blouin) had begun an
investigation of an individual named Bryan Simpson residing
at 175 Harwich Street, New Bedford, and had received five
anonymous telephone calls on the narcotics anonymous tips
line within the previous six months. The anonymous tipster
described Simpson's use of a gold-colored vehicle with a
strap holding down the trunk. Blouin informed Amaral that he
had traveled to 175 Harwich Street and observed Simpson and a
woman leave the building at that address and get into a
gold-colored vehicle with a strap holding down the trunk.
After checking the license plate of the vehicle, Blouin
learned that it was registered to the defendant's mother.
After searching police department records, Amaral discovered
an incident report concerning a domestic disturbance at 175
Harwich Street between Simpson and the defendant on July 7,
2013, in which the defendant reported that she had had a
verbal argument with Simpson, whom she described as her boy
friend of four years.
then arranged, on three separate occasions between May 4 and
May 23, 2014, to have the CI participate in controlled
purchases of crack cocaine from Simpson. On two occasions,
shortly after the CI placed a call to Bryan, detectives
watched Simpson and a woman leave by the front door of 175
Harwich Street, enter a vehicle parked on the street, and
drive directly to the designated location. There, the CI
briefly interacted with Simpson before the two separated.
After both encounters, the CI provided police with a
substance that was later confirmed to be crack cocaine. After
the second meeting, Simpson and the woman returned
immediately to 175 Harwich Street and entered through the
front door. On the occasion of the third controlled purchase,
Simpson was observed leaving 175 Harwich Road alone, entering
a vehicle in the rear of the building, and driving to the
designated location, where he sold crack cocaine to the CI
and then drove in a direction away from Harwich Road. On at
least two other occasions during this period, police observed
Simpson leave his residence and engage briefly with
individuals other than the CI at various locations in what
appeared to be drug transactions.
also observed Simpson and a woman check the mailbox for an
apartment on the east side of 175 Harwich Street before using