LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge ruled last week that the state cannot use interviews or statements made to a Tilton police detective while an accused drug dealer was in their custody against him.
Judge James O'Neill said that Justin P. Jones, 27, of Franklin was not given his Miranda warnings while he was in a police cruiser with Det. Cpl. Matt Dawson nor was he given them while he was in police custody at the Tilton Police Station.
Jones is charged with one count of conspiracy to sell controlled drugs.
According to various suppression motions filed by Jones's lawyer, Jones was spotted by Dawson and Det. Nathan Buffington while he was a passenger in a vehicle in April of 2013. Tilton police had gotten two arrest warrants for him for possession of oxycodone and conspiracy to sell narcotics.
According to court documents, once in the interview room at the Tilton Police Department, Dawson said Jones began yelling for him so he grabbed the two files, went into the interview room, and began presenting him with paperwork — including some information that included some evidence from the state lab.
Dawson also discussed some elements of the case with Jones that involved a co-defendant and Jones responded by discussing his role in that case.
O'Neill ruled that Dawson didn't properly ensure that Jones was informed of his rights. He said Dawson's acts went beyond simply informing him of the charges against him.
In the same case, a memorandum was filed by an assistant Belknap County attorney saying that when she spoke to Dawson on October 15 about the case, she noticed he didn't include in his written report any reference to a conversation he and Jones had had in the cruiser at the time of his arrest about a confidential informant.
Atty. Roni Karnis wrote that when she asked Dawson why he didn't include it in his report, he said it was because he didn't want to confirm for Jones the name of one of his informants.
She wrote that during the conversation, she learned that Jones allegedly told Dawson that another person had tipped him off about the confidential informant and that he had called her to ask her why she was setting him up.
"Dawson also stated that there 'was a bunch more to it,'" Karnis wrote. She relayed the new information to Jones attorney later that day.
During a hearing to suppress evidence held on October 16, Dawson was also asked why Jones would have been yelling for him while he was in the interview room.
Dawson said Jones may have been under the impression that he (Dawson) was going to "help him out of some of his charges".
When she asked Dawson if the two of them had any conversations about that while they were alone in his cruiser, Dawson said, "I may have. I don't recall. It may have been explained to him that, you know, (he) would have an opportunity to help himself out."
On October 22, the prosecutor filed a notice of full disclosure informing the court that the above conversation had not been included in Dawson's report nor during their conversation on October 15.
On October 28, Jones's attorney filed a second motion to suppress all of the evidence obtained from the tape recordings made at the Tilton Police Department.
He said that on October 23, Dawson got a memorandum of approval for a one party interception — or permission for a confidential informant to wear a recording devise — from former Assistant Belknap County Attorney Stacy Kaelin so he could use a confidential information to by $35 worth of marijuana and the target of the investigation was Jones.
The confidential information was allegedly told by Dawson to buy opiates from a woman and the tapes between the confidential informant and the woman formed the basis of the conspiracy charge against Jones.
Jones has argued Dawson never returned to the county attorney to tell her there was a reasonable suspicion that narcotics and not marijuana would be purchased. He has also argued that the limited information given to Kaelin didn't provide enough information about the confidential informant's relationship to Jones and why police could expect he would sell drugs to her.
O'Neill has not ruled on that motion.
For reasons unknown to The Daily Sun, Dawson was placed on paid administrative leave on or about November 1. It is not known if the two incidents are related.