Charges dropped in Londonderry marijuana case
BRENTWOOD — A Londonderry man and his son accused of growing marijuana in their home had all charges dropped against them after a judge decided police did not have a legally justifiable reason to enter their home before getting a search warrant.
Mark Castiglione, 54, and Brandon Castiglione, 19, were each facing four charges, including manufacturing a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug stemming from a search of their home on May 17, 2013.
Judge Marguerite Wageling decided that Londonderry police should not have searched the home without first obtaining a search warrant.
Wageling said in an eight-page decision that Londonderry police officers already determined that a woman who made a 911 call from the home was not in danger before they did a “protective sweep” of the home.
The decision essentially barred prosecutors from using any evidence about the marijuana found in jars inside a locked bedroom. Prosecutors, in turn, dropped charges in the case. The judge emphasized in her decision that she found that Londonderry police officers had acted in good faith when they carried out the search of the home.
“The court recognizes that the officers were confronting a potentially volatile and dangerous situation,” Wageling said in the order.
Police officers testified at a hearing in February that they went to the home in response to a 911 call made by Brandon Castiglione’s girlfriend. She told police that her boyfriend had bitten her and made statements that he could harm himself.
Police had located both Brandon Castiglione and his girlfriend outside the home.
Brandon Castiglione refused to give police permission to search the residence, saying he wasn’t the homeowner.
Police decided to search the home anyway to make sure no one else was in need of assistance. Once inside, a police officer smelled marijuana and picked a lock to the door of a bedroom where the marijuana was found, according to court records.
Defense lawyers argued that the search violated the Castiglione’s constitutional rights.
The father and son were indicted in separate cases, but prosecutors agreed to have a single hearing to determine whether the search was legally permissible.