Despite a confession and thousands of files on our client's computers, a defect in the search warrant led to a successful motion to suppress and the eventual dismissal of the case.
Our client was a sound engineer for several local television and radio stations. The police executed search warrants at two of his residences as a result of his IP addresses getting flagged for child pornography. The police seized numerous computers and devices from our client.
The search resulted in the discovery of thousands of child pornography files. Our client admitted to the police that he was viewing child pornography and had been doing so for the past 10 years. Our client could not understand why he suddenly became interested in this type of pornography so late in life. Interestingly, approximately 10 years prior, our client had contracted Lyme disease after being exposed to ticks on a trip to Latvia. We began researching whether this could have played a role.
Our client’s Lyme disease was fairly severe. He had developed neuroborreliosis in his spinal cord and a bacterial infection caused damage to his nervous system. As a result, we were concerned that he may have suffered injury to his brain as well. This then led us to Dr. Robert Bransfield, one of the leading experts on the neuropsychiatric symptoms caused by Lyme disease. He had written a paper entitled Sex and Lyme Disease where he explained that Lyme disease can not only affect sexual functioning, but can also alter sexual attraction and behavioral patterns as well. After conducting a thorough evaluation of our client, Dr. Bransfield concluded that his infection altered his sexual interests causing him to develop an interest in child pornography that had not been present prior to the infection.
We presented our findings to the District Attorney’s office, however, they continued the prosecution of our client. Our next step was the filing of a Motion to Suppress challenging the validity of the search warrant for our client’s weekend lake house. We contended that the search warrant was defective since the detective intentionally omitted material information from his affidavit at the time the warrant was obtained.
During the investigation, the detective learned that the residence was not occupied most days of the week as it was a weekend lake house. As a result, it was determined that if the homeowner was the person responsible for the downloading of the child pornography, it was reasonable to believe evidence of the crime would not be present without that person also present. To remedy this issue, the detective created a ruse that was designed to get our client and his computers to the lake house at some point after the issuance of the search warrant. The problem was that the detective did not disclose any of this information to the Magistrate at the time he obtained the warrant.
After an evidentiary hearing, the court granted our motion to suppress, finding that the detective’s omission of this information rendered the search warrant defective. As a result, all of the evidence discovered during the search was thrown out. This included not only the evidence on our client’s computers but also his subsequent incriminating statements to the officers.
With the suppression of the evidence, the District Attorney’s office was unable to prosecute our client and the case was dismissed.
Categories | Child Pornography Cases,