Felony charges against Magri dismissed

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Felony weapons charges were dismissed on Friday against Raphael Magri following a successful suppression motion. — Rich Saltzberg

Felony weapons charges against Raphael Magri were dismissed in Edgartown District Court Friday following a successful motion to suppress evidence by Magri’s attorney, Tim Moriarty.

Magri was charged with the possession of illegal, high-capacity gun magazines after Edgartown Police opened a safe found in Magri’s house. The magazines were found in the safe along with guns and ammunition that were legal. Magri pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment in November 2019.

A hearing on the motion was held in May. The motion sought to suppress a statement, the search of a car, and the search of the safe.

Edgartown District Court Judge Benjamin Barnes said Friday that after an “in-depth analysis” that encompassed “various constitutional issues,” he allowed Moriarty’s motion. 

Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Michael Preble told the court that based on the success of the motion, the commonwealth would not proceed with the case. Moriarty asked the court to dismiss the case, and Judge Barnes did so.

In his order, Judge Barnes determined, based on case law, that when police opened Magri’s safe and searched it, and when Edgartown Police seized certain items inside it without a warrant, they violated the Fourth Amendment. Barnes found police also violated the Fourth Amendment when they gained entry to Magri’s home, searched it, and searched a closet in the home without a warrant. Barnes further found police violated the Fourth Amendment when they searched Magri’s vehicle without a warrant. He noted case law provides for certain “exigent circumstances,” but none of the situations police encountered met the criteria for such circumstances. 

Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee told The Times his department will use the decision as a learning experience, and affect a methodology change for similar situations going forward. Chief McNamee stressed the reason police accessed Magri’s safe was to secure his firearms, because there was concern he might be a danger to himself. 

Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake, who peacefully disarmed Magri in Oak Bluffs Town Hall with Sgt. Michael Marchand, and conveyed him to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, similarly stressed Magri’s well-being and the public’s were the motivating factors. Barnes found that questions posed to Magri while in Oak Bluffs Police custody weren’t preceded by a Miranda warning, and therefore tainted any answers given. 

Magri, an Edgartown fire lieutenant on extended leave, would likely need to reacquaint himself with the department should he wish to return, Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer told The Times. Magri was also a building inspector in Oak Bluffs. The town accepted his resignation from that job on Oct. 3, 2019.

“The court arrived at the just and correct decision,” Moriarty later wrote The Times. “I regret the personal turmoil Mr. Magri has experienced as a result of this ordeal.”

 

1 COMMENT

  1. More bad policing… violating the rights of citizens in their homes! I hope EPD isn’t borrowing TPD’s playbook! It shouldn’t have taken a judge to figure this one out either, the officers should have known better and the DA, well that is someone who should be charged with a crime for not putting this right immediately!

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