ATTLEBORO — A North Attleboro drive-by shooting suspect has lost a pretrial motion in which his lawyer gave a novel argument about requiring police to use cellphones to record statements from suspects.
Attleboro District Court Judge Daniel O’Shea issued a ruling Friday saying there was no basis to suppress statements by suspect Kevin Baldwin, 21, of Norfolk, because police did not record them.
Baldwin is accused of providing the shotgun used in the June 22 drive-by shooting of a home on Kelley Boulevard and of being the getaway driver.
A couple and their child on the first floor of the house and a tenant on the second floor were shaken by the incident, but not physically injured, according to police.
Baldwin’s lawyer, James Reidy of West Roxbury, used a novel argument in which he said police should be required to use their department-issued cellphones to record statements of suspects.
Reidy based his argument on a landmark state Supreme Judicial Court ruling in 2004 that requires police to electronically record suspects in custody at the police station or “place of detention.”
When the police do not record a suspect’s statements, defendant can request the judge instruct the jury that the state’s highest court prefers that confessions be recorded whenever practical.
The high court ruling was issued before the widespread use of smartphones with cameras capable of video and audio recording.
Because so many police officers carry department-issued smartphones, Reidy said requiring police to use them to record statements would be consistent with the SJC’s ruling.
Currently, police record statements in police department interrogation rooms.
Reidy declined to comment on the O’Shea’s ruling and said his client, who has pleaded innocent to assault and weapons charges, will proceed to trial.
Baldwin’s rights to appeal the judge’s ruling are preserved. If it is necessary to go to a higher court after trial, O’Shea’s ruling would be reviewed then.
In his ruling, O’Shea wrote that he found Baldwin’s statements were made after he was given his so-called Miranda warnings and were made voluntarily.
Detective Daniel Arrighi had testified that Baldwin told police he disposed of the shotgun in a swamp in Rehoboth after the shooting but had shells in his house.
O’Shea also denied Baldwin’s request to dismiss a charge of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, ruling police had probable cause for the charge.
The case was continued for a pre-trial conference on Feb. 28. No trial date has been scheduled.
Baldwin is one of four defendants in the case.