Heard: March 8, 2018.
found and returned in the Superior Court Department on March
pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Angel
Kelley Brown, J., and the case was tried before Christopher
J. Muse, J.
A. Dolberg, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for the
Garland, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.
Present: Green, C.J., Meade, & Sacks, JJ.
appeal from his conviction of unlawful possession of a
firearm, the defendant argues that a judge erred in denying
his motion to suppress the firearm, found during the
execution of a search warrant. He argues that the affidavit
submitted in support of the warrant application failed to
establish probable cause because it rested upon information
supplied by a confidential informant but did not demonstrate
that informant's veracity. We disagree and therefore
summarize the affidavit, filed in December, 2015. The
affiant, State police Trooper Steven Connolly, had sixteen
years of experience, including eight years in investigations,
and had been involved in numerous firearm-related searches,
seizures, and arrests. He and another trooper had received,
within the preceding two days, certain information about a
concealed firearm from a confidential informant,
"CI#1." They knew CI#1's "true
identity" and that CI#1 had handled both loaded and
unloaded firearms in the past. CI#1 requested anonymity out
of fear for CI#1's safety.
affidavit stated that in 2008, CI#1 had provided another
trooper and a sergeant with "accurate information
regarding the location of an illegally possessed loaded 12
gauge shotgun that was concealed in Brockton." Those
officers went to that location and "seized the specific
described loaded 12 gauge shotgun." The shotgun and
ammunition were "submitted for analysis," but
"[a]ny more specificity regarding the above
investigation could compromise the identity and safety of
CI#1" because "the target of the current case may
be familiar with the target in the above cited case who
possessed the loaded shotgun."
affidavit explained the occasion for the current (December,
2015) warrant application as follows. CI#1 had just told
Trooper Connolly and his colleague that, during the preceding
forty-eight hours, CI#1 had seen "Jerry," "a
black male with dreadlocks," place a silver revolver
"in the trunk of a 1996 red Acura Integra, bearing
Massachusetts registration 1KJ926," in a parking lot
behind a specified address on Main Street in Brockton. CI#1
stated that Jerry currently lived with family members at that
address. CI#1 was shown a photograph of the defendant
maintained by the registry of motor vehicles (RMV) and
identified it as depicting Jerry. CI#1 stated that the Acura
was "not in use" and "always remain[ed] parked
in the same location."
surveilling the parking lot behind the Main Street address
saw both an Acura and the defendant there. CI#1 was shown a
surveillance photograph of the Acura parked in the lot and
confirmed that it depicted the vehicle in which Jerry had
placed the firearm. A check of RMV records revealed that the
Acura was registered to a woman whose last name (like the
defendant's) was Santos, but whom the RMV listed as
living in Taunton. The RMV records also indicated, in the
words of the affidavit, that the registration of the Acura
was "currently revoked for insurance."
affidavit recited further information linking the defendant
to the Acura. Specifically, a few years earlier, a college
campus police officer had "queried Massachusetts
registration 439RG2" (which differed from the
Acura's current registration number) and found that it
corresponded to an Acura Integra registered to the defendant.
That query came to the attention of the defendant's
Federal probation officer, who asked him about it in 2013;
the defendant stated that he had purchased a 1996 Acura
Integra. Also, a Brockton police report, apparently from
2013,  ...