This past Friday morning police in Oak Bluffs police were called to a location on a report of a dead body. When they arrived they went to a bedroom where they observed the body of a fifty year old man. Based on the presence of Drug Paraphernalia including baggies and a syringe officer believed that the man may have died of a drug overdose. The deceased’s roommate, Mathew Hubert was at the scene. Police reported that Hubert would obtain five hundred bags of Heroin from a source in western Massachusetts and would sell them at the cape. Hubert was immediately arrested when officers found a Class B drug and some Heroin in Hubert’s room. The police then secured a Search Warrant. They executed the warrant at the home and found evidence sufficient to file a criminal complaint for Trafficking Heroin, a Class A substance.
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Here is something that immediately crosses my mind when reading this article. Absent a statement from the suspect, Mr. Hubert, how do the police know that he is in fact the person who was trafficking drugs as opposed to his deceased roommate? The simple answer is that the police do not. Both the decedent and Hubert used heroin. The police arrived at the home after receiving a call about a dead body. They were not at that time investigating heroin trafficking. It appears that the only evidence that the police have relative to Hubert and drugs is his admission that he had used heroin a couple of hours earlier and that there were drugs in his room at the time of his arrest. The quantity of those drugs led authorities to charge him with possession, not trafficking. Presumably, the trafficking charges stem from items located during the execution of the Search Warrant. These items can be attributed to Hubert’s roommate as easily as they can to him. I am curious to see whether or not these charges can survive a challenge on the basis of their sufficiency.
To prove Heroin Trafficking in Massachusetts the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hubert 1) possessed Heroin, 2) that he did so with the intent to distribute the substance and 3) that the weight of the Heroin satisfied the threshold required for Trafficking. Here, there is no indication that Hubert was the person who intended to sell the material, nor did the substance found appear to reach the necessary weight to charge Trafficking Heroin. The evidence against Hubert is equally applicable to the roommate under these circumstances. Both use heroin. With heroin use often comes heroin sales so that the user can support his habit. The informant’s information will not likely be admissible at trial unless that person can provide information corroborating the theory that what the police found belonged to Hubert and was to be sold. I can see many scenarios where this case does not get prosecuted for anything more than simple Possession of Heroin.