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Tassie suppression hearings conclude

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CANTON — It’s the only thing that matters and without it, there would be no trial.

Suppression hearings for the upcoming trial of Jason D. Tassie, 30, the Massena man who is being linked to a 2009 sexual assault and burglary of a woman in her 80s through DNA, concluded Tuesday in St. Lawrence County Court.

“DNA has been the issue in this case and the most critical,” said St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards. “Without it, we wouldn’t have a case.”

The 2˝-week hearings were to determine what evidence will be used in the trial, which will begin at 8:15 a.m. July 29.

Mr. Tassie’s attorney, Mary E. Rain, is attempting to prove that DNA obtained from her client was done so illegally, after a mistake made by a Massena Town Court clerk had Mr. Tassie convicted of a 2006 misdemeanor.

Such a charge would have made a DNA collection valid; however, Mr. Tassie pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, a violation.

Massena Investigator Joseph W. Brown took the stand and was questioned on obtaining a series of three search warrants to collect DNA samples from Mr. Tassie.

Mr. Brown said he was the lead investigator in the 2009 sexual-assault case and in July 2012, when Mr. Tassie became a suspect in a Peeping Tom case in which DNA was left behind at a Dover Street residence.

Mr. Brown said that he submitted two samples of DNA from the 2012 crime scene to the state police crime lab and that one of them came back as a match for the unidentified person’s DNA in the 2009 sex-assault case.

Ms. Rain said in court Tuesday that Mr. Brown received information from Massena Patrolman Travis P. MacDonald, who conducted a search on eJustice for Mr. Tassie and discovered the mistaken 2006 misdemeanor conviction for which no DNA had been collected.

Mr. Brown said that on Sept. 22, 2012, he obtained a search warrant for DNA from Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow; however, Mr. Brown did so without giving Mr. Tassie ample notice, and never submitted the sample.

A search warrant application for Mr. Tassie’s DNA was made by Mr. Brown on Sept. 26, 2012, to Massena Town Justice James M. Crandall to correct the Sept. 22 mistake. An additional warrant was requested Feb. 13 from Judge Richards in the 2012 Peeping Tom case to avoid connection with the 2006 mistaken conviction.

On Jan. 11, Mr. Brown requested that Massena’s Department of Public Works pull Mr. Tassie’s trash from his 8 Tracy St. residence; multiple cigarette butts were collected and submitted to the state police crime lab as DNA samples.

Ms. Rain has formed the argument that each sample was obtained based on the false filing of Mr. Tassie’s misdemeanor conviction, which she said is fruit of the poisonous tree and makes all the evidence against her client suppressible.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duvé’s case against Mr. Tassie will have to be constructed around the fact that the information within the applications to obtain DNA would be enough for judges to issue a search warrant, even without the information obtained from eJustice and the DNA gathered due to the mistaken conviction.

At the close of the hearings, Ms. Rain sought an adjournment of the upcoming trial, based on what she said was the failure of the DA’s office to provide nine of 14 reports into discovery.

“She was well aware of these documents and failed to provide them,” Ms. Rain told Judge Richards. “One might understand one document, but nine? Nine is not an accident.”

Ms. Duvé told the judge that she turned over reports and evidence to the defense as her office was provided with the information.

“I can only provide it as it is created,” Ms. Duvé said. “I can only provide them as it is provided to me.”

Judge Richards denied the application for adjournment and set the trial for July 29. Counsel is scheduled to submit a Memorandum of Law, which will contain facts and law through cases that set precedent, after which Judge Richards will make a decision on what evidence will be suppressed in the trial.

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