Massachusetts Appeals Court Reverses Suppression Order in Notorious Burglary Case

The Massachusetts Appeals Court today reversed a superior court judge’s order suppressing evidence seized pursuant to a warrant that implicated the defendant in participating in the multi-million dollar burglary of a jewelry manufacturer in Attleboro in 2008.  The name of the case is Commonwealth v. Murphy

The facts of the case are fascinating.  During the overnight hours of June 8, 2008, burglars broke into E.A. Dion, Inc., in Attleboro and stole $2.5 million worth of precious metals and jewelry.  They gained access to the building by cutting a hole in the roof, disabling the primary alarm system, and using a high-tech “jammer” to block a backup alarm’s cellular communication system.  Once inside, the crooks were somehow able to steal a safe that weighed over 1,000 pounds.  The defendant has a long criminal record and a history of committing burglaries.  In 2004, he burgled a Costco warehouse in Pennsylvania.  The similarities between the Costco burglary and the Attleboro burglary are striking.  The thieves entered the Costco warehouse through the roof and utilized a high-tech jammer to disable the backup cellular alarm system.  In that case, the defendant and his co-conspirators stole jewelry and prescription medication but were captured by police the same night.  Two years later, the defendant sent a letter to Costco’s president and offered to provide security consulting services to the company, admitting that he had successfully burglarized multiple Costco warehouses.  The defendant listed his home address in the letter.  The defendant was also suspected of participating in the theft of 1.8 prescription pills from AmerisourceBergen Corporation in Mansfield in 2006, where the thieves cut the company’s telephone lines before entering the building through a hole in the roof.

The defendant’s prior criminal history was included in the police application for a search warrant, as well as information from the defendant’s former roommate.  The roommate told the cops the defendant had explained to her how he committed his burglaries.  The defendant brought the roommate to a warehouse in Lynn where he stored his tools, including a cell phone jammer.  He said he had a crew of five men who would disable the alarm systems and enter the buildings through the roofs, and he used a computer in the warehouse to research his victims before the crimes.  Following the 2008 Attleboro burglary, the roommate saw the defendant bring gold bars, jewelry, and 12 Super Bowl rings to his home in Lynn.  Half of the loot was distributed to the defedant’s co-conspirators and the other half was stored in the defendant’s girlfriend’s grandmother’s home.  After receiving the information from the roommate, the police obtained warrants to search the defendant’s home and warehouse, where incriminating evidence was found and seized.  The defendant was thereafter indicted on multiple counts of possession of burglarious instruments, receiving stolen property, and breaking and entering.  The defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing the warrant applications did not establish probable cause to justify the issuance of the warrants.  A superior court judge agreed and allowed the motion to suppress, but the Appeals Court reversed.  The Court pointed out that the roommate’s information provided strong direct evidence that the defendant had participated in the burglary in Attleboro.  Importantly, the roommate was able to provide information that was not known to the public.  One issue was whether the information provided by the roommate was “stale” (too old), since the warrants were executed approximately seven months after the crime.  The Court concluded the affidavit established the defendant was part of an ongoing criminal enterprise (given the defendant’s participation in several burglaries), and it was therefore reasonable to think the tools of the crime would be found in the defendant’s home and the warehouse.

The defendant has been representing himself for years and argued his own case in front of the Appeals Court (the audio recording of the argument can be heard here).  His interesting criminal history is detailed in this newspaper article.