Heard: March 8, 2019.
Complaints received and sworn to in the East Brookfield
Division of the District Court Department on January 4 and
February 23, 2016. A motion to suppress was heard by Maura K.
McCarthy, J.; and the case was tried before Mark A.
J. Mondou for the defendant.
M. Oftring, Assistant District Attorney, for the
Present: Hanlon, Agnes, & Sullivan, JJ.
jury trial in the District Court, the defendant, Jason
Spring, was convicted of carrying a firearm without a license
and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification
card (FID). He appeals, arguing that his motion to suppress
should have been allowed and, for that reason, he is entitled
to a new trial. We agree that the motion should have been
allowed, and his admission that he did not have a license to
carry the firearm or an FID card suppressed, but we conclude
that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. We
supplement the judge's findings on the motion to suppress
with uncontested facts from the testimony at the hearing. On
January 1, 2016, Rutland Police Sergeant Nicholas A. Monaco
noticed a black Jeep parked in a private dirt parking lot at
approximately 2:10 A.M. Monaco observed a T-shirt hanging in
the driver's side window, and that the car's windows
were fogged. The defendant was asleep in the car; when
awakened, he identified himself as "Jason Spring from
Holden," but when the officer asked for his driver's
license, the defendant responded that he did not have his
wallet. Monaco asked who was the owner of the car, and the
defendant responded that "the car might have belonged to
a guy he worked with." Monaco told the defendant to get
out of the car, handcuffed him, and placed him in the rear of
Monaco's police cruiser. Monaco then conducted a Registry
of Motor Vehicles inquiry and discovered that the
defendant's driver's license had been revoked and the
car was unregistered. Monaco also learned the defendant had
an outstanding default warrant from the District Court.
result of this information, Monaco decided that the
defendant's car would be towed. Another officer arrived,
and the officers conducted an inventory search of the car
pursuant to police department policy. The inventory search
produced a large capacity rifle (a Bushmaster semiautomatic),
three magazines, ammunition, a single Prednisone pill, and a
glass pipe with marijuana residue.
testified that the case containing the rifle, the magazines,
and the ammunition was not in plain view but covered by
clothes. When he found it, he returned to his cruiser and
searched the relevant computer database for any record that
the defendant possessed a license to carry a firearm or an
FID; he discovered that the defendant had neither.
Monaco asked the defendant if he had either a license to
carry the firearm or an FID. The defendant responded that he
did not. Monaco acknowledged that, when he asked the
question, he had not advised the defendant of his Miranda
warnings. Monaco then transported the defendant to the
Rutland Police Department where he was booked and read his
Miranda rights for the first time.
noted, prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress
"the stop, search, seizure and questioning as a result
of an unauthorized and illegal stop and search of a
vehicle." After the hearing, the judge issued written
findings of fact and rulings of law and denied the
defendant's motion. Thereafter, the defendant was tried
before six-person jury, with a different judge presiding, and
he was convicted of carrying a firearm without a license and
possession of ammunition without an FID card. The defendant
appeals, seeking a new trial and claiming that the motion
judge erred in denying his motion to suppress his
"statements made in response to interrogation while
handcuffed and secured in a locked cruiser without being
provided Miranda warnings."