A felony possession of child pornography charge filed against a 29-year-old Ramsey man has been dismissed by an Anoka County District Court judge.
The Anoka County Attorney’s Office May 11, 2012 charged Matthew Mark Dejarlais with possession of pornographic work on a computer disk following an investigation by the Coon Rapids Police Department.
Dejarlais entered a not-guilty plea to the charge March 9, 2013 and May 19, 2014, defense attorney Jennifer Pradt filed a motion to suppress evidence found on his computer because the search violated his constitutional rights and to dismiss the charge for lack of probable cause.
A scheduled jury trial for Oct. 6, 2014 was canceled and a hearing on Pradt’s motion took place before Judge Douglas Meslow Nov, 4, 2014. Meslow took the motion under advisement and ordered briefs to be submitted by prosecution and defense attorneys.
According to court documents, Coon Rapids Police obtained and executed a search warrant at a residence in the city Oct. 10, 2011 at the request of the Bufffalo Police Department because items stolen in a burglary in Buffalo were believed to be there.
Property found at the residence was identified as having been taken in the Buffalo burglary, but another piece of stolen property, a computer, was not part of the Buffalo Police investigation and was not seized, the documents state.
A Coon Rapids Police officer in an effort to find the owner of the computer started a search of the computer’s files and came across a folder titled “Matt’s videos,” the documents state.
Entering the file, the officer not only found information that eventually led to the identification of Dejarlais as the owner of the computer, but also allegedly child pornography.
The officer continued his search of the computer and according to the complaint, he found that the computer and storage devices both contained a number of files which were confirmed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as being known-victim child pornography files.
But in a decision filed with the court March 9, Meslow ruled in favor of Pradt’s motion, suppressing the evidence found on Dejarlais’ computer “as fruit of the poisonous tree” and dismissing the charge for lack of probable cause.
According to Meslow’s findings of fact and conclusions of law document, the officer had the right to check files in the computer to try and find the owner, but once the officer identified the owner and came across child pornography videos, he should have stopped and obtained a new search warrant before conducting any further search of the computer files.