A convicted killer will get a new trial on unrelated drug charges after the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that the 1,050 bags of heroin seized at his home were obtained illegally.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Siwan Brown, 42, of Jersey City, was lawfully stopped by local police around 8:00 p.m. on April 15th, 2015, for running through a stop sign, the appellate court recounted.
He was asked to exit the vehicle due to smelling like marijuana, admitting to have smoked earlier in the day, and then told police he had “two bundles” of heroin on him, the court ruling says.
Brown allegedly consented to a search of his bedroom, along with two other rooms, in his home, the third of which contained a safe that was storing 1,050 bags of heroin.
He was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being convicted on a number of drug charges back on January 6th, 2017, according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections, and has been in custody at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway since then.
While this appears to be an open and shut case at a glance, Appellate Judges Jack Sabatino, Thomas Sumners, and Richard Geiger cite case law that indicates that Brown’s consent to search was involuntary and/or coerced.
” … We conclude that the circumstances as a whole point heavily in the direction of involuntariness. It must be remembered that the police request to search defendant’s house was first made at the side of the road after he had already been frisked, found with drugs, arrested, and placed in handcuffs,” the judges wrote in their ruling.
“He was not then in the familiar surroundings of his own dwelling. His realistic ability to refuse consent in such a stressful time, place, and condition was doubtful. Once at the house and presented with the forms, his oral assent to the search had already occurred.”
They continued that although Brown gave written consent for the searches after he’d been obtained, “the record provides strong indicia of implied coercion.”
As a result, his 2017 conviction is vacated and remanded back to the lower court for further proceedings.
Brown, who was convicted of manslaughter in 2007 and aggravated manslaughter in 2017, would have faced a maximum release date of July 18th, 2028 and a parole eligibility date of April 28th, 2025 if his drug convictions were not overturned, NJ DOC records show.