COMBINED ORDER ON MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS BROUGHT BY
DANIELLE JONES AND BRANDON ROSS
the Court are two motions to suppress evidence obtained as a
result of the execution of four search warrants against
Danielle Ross and Brandon Ross. They are both charged with
Class D Failure to Comply with Court Order. Their cases have
not been joined for trial but a combined hearing on the
Motions to Suppress brought in the above-captioned cases took
place on December 3, 2018. The State is represented by
Assistant District Attorney Tracey McCarthy. Danielle Ross is
represented by Attorney Darrick Banda and Brandon Ross is
represented by Attorney Scott Hess.
Court has reviewed the four search warrants at issue in this
case, has considered the parties' written filings, and
for reasons stated denies the motions to suppress with
respect to three of the search warrants, and grants the
motions with respect to one.
Court conducted a four-corners analysis of the four warrants
at issue, as no issues were raised under Franks v.
Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978).
State v. Simmons, the Law Court held that a finding
of probable cause rests on "a practical, commonsense
determination whether, given all the circumstances set forth
in the affidavit, there is a fair probability that contraband
or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular
place." 2016 ME 103, ¶ 11, 143 A.3d 819 (quoting
State v. Johndro, 2013 ME 106, ¶ 9, 82 A.3d
820). The affidavit filed in support of the warrant request
"must set forth some nexus between the evidence to be
seized and the locations to be searched." State v.
Gurney, 2012 ME 14, ¶ 33, 36 A.3d 893 (quoting
State v. Samson, 2007 ME 33, ¶ 15, 916 A.2d
977). A nexus "may be inferred from the type of crime
[and] the nature of the items sought[.]" Id.
(quoting id.). In addition, courts reviewing search
warrants must "do so ... in a positive light" and
"allowing for reasonable inferences that may be drawn to
support the magistrate's determination"
Simmons, 2016 ME 103, ¶ 12, 143 A.3d 819
(quoting Johndro, 2013 ME 106, ¶ 9, 82 A.3d
820).The Court will address each of the four search warrants
applying these standards.
Warrant Issued October 30. 2017
search warrant sought authorization to search the person of
both Defendants, their residence, place of business, and
vehicles. It sought to seize any electronic devices along
with passcodes and chargers, and to be able to make duplicate
images of any electronic data stored on the devices.
affiant, Detective Kyle McDonald of the Waterville Police
Department, disclosed the following information to the judge
who authorized this warrant. The Waterville Humane Society,
which was housing and caring for two pit bulls who were
subject to a euthanasia order issued by the Waterville
District Court, reported on the night of October 24, 2017
that the dogs had come free of their restraints when they
were being walked by their owner, Danielle Jones. The
euthanasia order had been appealed to the Law Court which
issued a decision that same day upholding the District Court
order. At approximately 1240 hours the Animal Control Officer
(ACO) for Winslow was notified by Winslow PD about the Law
Court's decision and the ACO advised he would notify the
Humane Society. At approximately 1302 the Humane Society
requested "paperwork" regarding the Law Court
decision which was faxed to the Humane Society at
approximately 1517 hours. At approximately 1844 hours,
Winslow PD received a call that the dogs had been being
walked by a volunteer but were now at large. Just prior to
that call, at approximately 1806, Humane Society Director
Lisa Smith texted the ACO to notify him as well. Ms. Smith
told the ACO that she left a message on the phone of the
person walking the dogs in hopes that they had a "lapse
in judgment" and would return them. Ms. Smith said that
staff at the shelter had conducted a search for the dogs but
could not find them. Ms. Smith clarified for the ACO that the
volunteer was actually the owner, Danielle Jones.
Smith informed the ACO that Ms. Jones and her boyfriend,
Brandon Ross, had been coming to the shelter every week to
walk the dogs but that today Ms. Jones was by herself that
day because Mr. Ross had a medical appointment. She told the
ACO she was skeptical about Ms. Jones's story as to how
both dogs could come out of their chest harnesses at the same
time, and on their own.
next day, Det. McDonald went to the residence where Ms. Jones
and Mr. Ross live in Winslow. A dog was inside barking, and
two vehicles, registered to the Defendants, were in the
driveway. He then went to Ms. Jones's place of business
(The Muddy Paw) and there was a note on the front door that
stated the store was closed until the next day.
at the shelter were interviewed, including Ms. Smith, that
same day. Ms. Smith told Det. McDonald that Ms. Jones and Mr.
Ross were allowed to walk the dogs twice a week but had been
told to keep the walks confined to the property. This had
been the practice for almost a year since the dogs were
housed there. She said when her staff informed her the day
before that the dogs were at large she drove to the shelter
to confront Ms. Jones as she found the story
"suspicious." She noted that Mr. Ross was always
with Ms. Jones, and that she believed it likely that Ms.
Jones had learned about the Law Court ruling before she
arrived at the shelter to walk the dogs. She had texted Ms.
Jones about her suspicions but Ms. Jones responded by text
denying that she had the dogs.
McDonald also interviewed Christopher Corson, who works at
the shelter and came in to assist in the search for the dogs.
He searched for almost two hours but found no tracks where he
was told the dogs had entered the woods, and remarked that if
the dogs had harnesses they would likely have "got hung
up" on trees in the woods. He saw other animal tracks
but no sign the dogs had been in the woods. Det. McDonald
also spoke with Thomas Gamache who stated that when he came
inside the shelter after hearing that the dogs were at large,
thirty seconds later he took the call from the ACO informing
him about the Law Court decision. Mr. Gamache also said that
when he saw Ms. Jones walking the dogs that they did not seem
to be pulling that hard.
McDonald interviewed Stacey Recanati who told him that she
had observed Ms. Jones walking the dogs in the woods near the
Webb Road. She stated that Ms. Jones told her that one of the
dogs' harnesses was on upside down, a truck went by and
spooked the dogs and they both ran off. Ms. Recanati drove in
van with Ms. Jones for four hours looking for the dogs with
no success. Ms. Recanati told Det. McDonald that she was
aware during this time how the Law Court had ruled, and asked
Ms. Jones if she had heard from her attorney. Ms. Jones
indicated she had not. She told Ms. Jones she should call her
lawyer and that Ms. Jones made a call in the van and told her
that the call was to her lawyer. She left a voicemail, and a
few minutes later someone called Ms. Jones and she heard her
ask the person if they had heard anything about the case. Ms.
Jones reported that he lawyers had not heard anything about
the case. Ms. Recanati then told Ms. Jones about the Law
Court decision and Ms. Recanati said Ms. Jones became
hysterical. They then ran into Mr. Ross at approximately 3 pm
at the driveway to the shelter who stated he had been looking
for the dogs. A few minutes later Mr. Ross called Ms. Jones
and she reported to Ms. Recanati that Mr. Ross told her he
was going to stop looking for the dogs and he would rather
they get hit by a car than euthanized. Ms. Recanati told Det.
McDonald that she had seen Ms. Jones come to the shelter by
herself before but that when she did she only walked one dog
at a time.
Dawes also gave a statement stating that Ms. Jones came to
walk the dogs at approximately noon or 12:30. She said that
Ms. Jones said she should be fine with the dogs since they
were both leashed and harnessed. After approximately twenty
minutes she returned without the dogs or their harnesses or
leashes. They began looking for the dogs for approximately
five minutes when Danielle began calling ...