Commonwealth v. Owens, 110718 MASC, SJC-12494

Docket Nº:SJC-12494
Party Name:COMMONWEALTH v. TERRY LYNN OWENS.
Attorney:Edward C. Gauthier, IV, for the defendant. Cailin M. Campbell, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.
Case Date:November 07, 2018
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
 
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COMMONWEALTH

v.

TERRY LYNN OWENS.

No. SJC-12494

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

November 7, 2018

Search and Seizure, Exigent circumstances, Securing of premises. Constitutional Law, Search and seizure. Practice, Criminal, Motion to suppress. Controlled Substances.

Edward C. Gauthier, IV, for the defendant.

Cailin M. Campbell, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth appeals from an order allowing Terry Lynn Owens's motion to suppress evidence discovered when police officers "froze" a house while they obtained a warrant. In a divided opinion, the Appeals Court reversed, concluding that the police officers' actions were justified to prevent the removal or destruction of evidence. Commonwealth v. Owens, 92 Mass.App.Ct. 193, 199 (2017). A dissenting Justice opined that the evidence presented at the suppression hearing did not establish that the officers had "specific information supporting an objectively reasonable belief that evidence will indeed be removed or destroyed unless preventative measures are taken." Id. at 203-204 (Henry, J., dissenting), quoting Commonwealth v. DeJesus, 439 Mass. 616, 621 (2003). We allowed the defendant's application for further appellate review and now affirm the suppression order for essentially the reasons given by the dissenting Justice.

Facts.

We summarize the motion judge's findings, which are more fully set forth in the Appeals Court's opinion.

Owens, 92 Mass.App.Ct. at 194-196. A team of Boston police officers believed, based on specific facts known to them, that a particular house in the Roxbury section of Boston was being used for prostitution. The building was at least a two-family dwelling, and the owner, Farhad Ahmed, lived in an apartment on the first floor. The police officers were informed that a woman known as "Cinnamon" worked there as a prostitute. One of the officers, posing as a prospective customer, made contact with Cinnamon, who, in a series of communications, described the services she offered, arranged to meet him, and gave him the address of the house. The officer arrived at the house and entered. Ahmed was present in the first-floor common hallway. The...

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