United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS
A. Bolden United States District Judge
second superseding indictment in this case charges
Christopher Hamlett (“Defendant”) with two counts
of sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ § 1591(a)(1), (b)(2), and (c), five counts of
using a facility in interstate and foreign commerce with
intent to facilitate prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ § 1952(a)(3)(A) and (b)(1)(i), and two counts of
production of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
Hamlett has filed two motions to suppress evidence addressing
three distinct issues: (1) that evidence must be suppressed
that was obtained, while law enforcement officers unlawfully
and without a warrant seized his cellphone, manipulated the
phone, and revealed evidentiary information that the officers
later relied on in seeking a warrant for its contents; (2)
that the pretrial and trial identifications of Mr. Hamlett
“must be suppressed because the pretrial identification
procedures employed were unduly suggestive and the proposed
trial identifications cannot be attributed to a reliable
source independent of the unduly suggestive pretrial
identification procedures, ” and (3) that all evidence
obtained under a warrant to search two Facebook accounts
allegedly associated with Hamlett should be suppressed. ECF
Nos. 35, 46.
following reasons, Mr. Hamlett's motions to suppress
evidence are DENIED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
on the indictment, and the filings and arguments of the
parties, the underlying factual circumstances are alleged to
be as follows:
2017, the Complainant, then seventeen years old, ran away
from her placement with the Connecticut Department of
Children and Families (hereinafter “DCF”). On
October 23, 2017, the Complainant called a social worker at
an organization dedicated to helping sex trafficking victims.
She reported to the social worker that she had been homeless
for four months, and that a man named “Chris”
a.k.a. “Cadi” had been having her perform sexual
acts in exchange for money since August of 2017.
Complainant provided the social worker with screen shots of
conversations she had had with “Cadi” using her
cellular telephone, which appeared to have occurred in
October 2017 and included discussions of prices and the
scheduling of clients for sexual acts with the Complainant.
The social worker notified DCF of the Complainant's
disclosures, and DCF then notified Detective Josh Lewis of
the Hartford Police Department. Detective Lewis then began to
investigate the Complainant's allegations.
Lewis conducted a search of publicly-available information on
Facebook and found a Facebook page under the name
“Cadillac Black, ” which was associated with the
phone number that was displayed in the text message
screenshots. The Facebook page under the name “Cadillac
Black” stated that he studied at “Pimp
Academy.” Detective Lewis recognized Mr. Hamlett in the
photographs on the Facebook page. Detective Lewis also noted
that Cadillac Black and the Complainant were
“friends” on Facebook.
November 8, 2017, Hartford police officers brought the
Complainant to the Hartford Police Department where Detective
Lewis showed her a printed color photograph from the public
Facebook profile of “Cadillac Black, ” whom
Detective Lewis believed to be Mr. Hamlett, as well as Mr.
Hamlett's booking photograph. The Complainant identified
the person depicted in the photographs as “Cadi.”
February 8, 2018, Hartford police officers and Federal Bureau
of Investigations (“FBI”) agents arrested Mr.
Hamlett at a residence in Hartford, Connecticut, based upon a
criminal complaint signed by the Honorable Donna F. Martinez
on February 7, 2018. A person opened the door to the
residence in response to police announcing their presence,
and police immediately identified Mr. Hamlett standing inside
the residence and arrested him without incident. The officers
did not have a warrant to search Mr. Hamlett or the
residence, but performed a search incident to his arrest. The
police report prepared on February 26, 2018, in connection
with the arrest stated:
A search of Christopher ‘Cadi' hamlet incident to
arrest located a cellular telephone in his front right pants
pocket. Christopher ‘Cadi' Hamlett stated the phone
was not his, stating it belonged to his aunt. As the phone
was in his possession and based on the undersigned's
training and experience, knew that ‘pimps' utilize
numerous cellular telephones, many not in their name in order
to avoid detection from law enforcement, this cellular
telephone was seized as evidence.
Hartford Police Report, Mot. to Suppress Ex. 1, ECF No. 30-1.
officers brought Mr. Hamlett to the United States
Marshal's Office, and, Special Agent Sharp touched the
screen of the phone to determine whether it had a passcode.
At that point:
[Special Agent] Sharp noticed the front of the cellular
telephone which had been seized from Christopher
‘Cadi' Hamlett was displaying a photo of Jane Doe
and her father. The undersigned called the phone number which
was now known to be the last number for Jane Doe. The phone
which was now in possession of SA Sharp began to vibrate. It
was now evidence that Christopher ‘Cadi' Hamlett
was in possession of Jane Doe's cellular phone.
Id. Special Agent Sharp submitted a report to the
FBI on February 16, 2018, which did not mention noticing the
display screen of the phone or the subsequent phone call.
one month later, Special Agent Sharp submitted an affidavit
for a warrant to search the phone recovered during ...