STATE v. ROBERT SHIELDS III, SC 18731
Judicial District of Waterbury
Criminal; Search and Seizure; Whether there was Probable to Support the Issuance of a Search Warrant for the Defendant's Residence. In November, 2005, Officer Christopher Grillo of the Southbury police department was informed by the Pennsylvania police about an online conversation between Brian Gayan, a Pennsylvania resident, and a person using the screen name "Bi06488" during which "Bi06488" had asked Gayan for pornographic photographs of Gayan's son. Grillo was also told that, on August 3, 2005, J.C., of 141 Rocky Mountain Road in Southbury (the residence), was the subscriber of the Internal Protocol (IP) address associated with "Bi06488." The residence was owned by the defendant, J.C. and R.S. Grillo and another officer applied for a warrant to search the residence. In the search warrant affidavit, the officers alleged, inter alia, that the conversation between Gayan and "Bi06488" was decoded on July 1, 2005. Upon obtaining the search warrant, the police searched the residence and seized several computers. The forensic examination of the defendant's computers uncovered numerous still and video images depicting child pornography. The examination also revealed that the computers were used by the defendant and not J.C. The defendant was charged with possession of child pornography. He filed two motions to suppress the evidence, both of which were denied. Subsequently, the defendant entered a plea of nolo contendere conditioned on his right to appeal from the court's denial of his motions to suppress. On appeal, the defendant claimed that the trial court improperly denied his first motion to suppress because the affidavit failed to establish probable cause to believe that child pornography would be found in the residence. Noting that the affidavit contained allegations that a person using the screen name "Bi06488" had requested child pornography and that the IP address associated with "Bi06488" was linked to the residence, the Appellate Court (124 Conn. App. 584) rejected the defendant's claim, stating that the trial court reasonably could have concluded that the affidavit contained sufficient facts to establish probable cause to believe that the residence contained child pornography. Next, the defendant claimed that the trial court improperly denied his second motion to suppress, in which he had claimed that the officers had deliberately or recklessly made false statements and omitted material information in the affidavit. Specifically, citing "newly discovered" evidence that the incriminating conversation between Gayan and "Bi06488" took place on May 5, 2005, the defendant had argued that the officers had inaccurately suggested in the affidavit that the conversation took place on July 1, 2005. He had further argued that, in light of this newly discovered evidence, the officers' failure to inform the court that the IP address was dynamic and subject to change was misleading. The Appellate Court rejected this claim as well, stating that the trial court reasonably could have concluded that the defendant failed to make a showing that the claimed omissions and inaccuracies in the affidavit were intentional or reckless or that they were material to a finding of probable cause. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will review the Appellate Court's decision.