LACONIA – Defense attorney Mark Sisti laid the framework yesterday for a possible evidence suppression hearing for a Lakeport man who is charged with possessing nearly $44,000 worth of methamphetamine.
During the probable cause hearing held for Peter Dauphin, 42, of 19 Appleton St. Sisti cross-examined Laconia Police Officer Richard Carlson about the particulars regarding the traffic stop and the inventory search that ultimately lead to the discovery of some methamphetamine under the drivers seat of a car Dauphin was driving.
During a search warrant executed on his home, police found an additional 6.8-ounces of methamphetamine and $11,000 in cash.
Dauphin was charged by police after Carlson and his partner Ben Black said Dauphin accelerated through the intersection of Union Avenue and Clinton Street and squealed his tires while heading down Elm Street.
Carlson testified that they followed Dauphin who at times exceeded 50 miles per hour in the congested residential neighborhood. He said when he activated his blue lights on Sheridan Street, Dauphin stopped.
Carlson testified he was preparing to cite him for speeding and misuse of power when Black told him the plates didn't belong to Dauphin.
Dauphin told the police he had recently purchased the car and was still driving on the old registration. Sisti produced the title of the car in court yesterday that showed Dauphin had not taken legal control over the vehicle and was driving on the previous owners registration. Sisti noted the car was still owned by the previous owner.
Carlson also testified that he was told Dauphin lived within 200 feet of where he stopped on Sheridan Street and agreed to allow the car to be towed to his home. He said he knew Dauphin paid the the tow driver $150 to take the car to his house.
He said that department policy allows police to conduct an inventory search even if the car is not going to be taken to police impound and it was during the end of this search he allegedly found an opaque eye-glass cloth holder containing the methamphetamine.
He also testified Dauphin didn't give him permission to search the car and that Dauphin had locked it before walking toward his home on Appleton.
"So when a car is going to a man's house, you have the right to go through it?" asked Sisti, at which point City Procecutor Jim Sawyer objected saying the venue was wrong for what was ending up being a suppression hearing and the city police towing policy was irrelevant for probable cause purposes.
Judge Jim Carroll overruled his objection and allowed Sisti to continue.
Carlson also testified that when he pulled the baggie containing methamphetamine from the car, Dauphin asked him what it was.
Sawyer next called Det. Kendra Neri to the stand. She testified that she and Sgt. Christopher Noyes interviewed Dauphin after reading him his rights. She said he agreed to talk without a lawyer.
She testified Dauphin admitted the methamphetamine was his and told her where the rest could be found in his home. She said he told her he was a user who brought three to four ounces every few weeks or so to the area and sold it.
Neri also testified that the drug field tested positive in both cases for methamphetamine.
When Sisti tried to review the time of her interrogation of Dauphin with the actions of arresting officer Carlson, Sawyer objected again, telling Carroll he knew where Sisti was going and reiterated that they were there for a probable cause hearing not a suppression hearing.
Neri also said Dauphin had been on her radar for some time as a possible methamphetamine supplier in the city.
Carroll told Sawyer he wasn't going to dismiss the charge based on issues of suppression and Sisti was allowed to continue.
Carroll determined that notwithstanding the issues of suppression, he found probable cause to sustain the single charge of possession with intent to distribute and bound the case over to the Belknap County Superior Court for possible indictment by a grand jury.
Sisti also made a lengthy argument about the $100,000 cash-only bail for Dauphin saying that "unless there's a body in the back of the car" the bail is exorbitant.
Carroll said he was already aware of Dauphin's close ties to the community and that no guns were found during the search, but that he considers methamphetamine possession dangerous to the community.
"It's been seized," said Sisti, arguing Dauphin is less dangerous now than he ever was because if he posts bail he is likely to be heavily supervised and no danger to anyone.
Carroll reiterated that Dauphin was a danger to the community and Sawyer supported continuing the $100,000 cash-only bail, saying when he was arrested Dauphin had nearly $60,000 in cash and drugs allegedly in his possession.
Sisti said Dauphin could be waiting in jail for a suppression hearing that could cause the case to be dismissed while he had no guns in his possession, a home, a family and a business to run.
After deliberating for a few minutes, Carroll reduced Dauphin's bail to $65,000 — cash-only.