Kent County Superior Court
For Plaintiff: Matthew L. LaMountain, Esq.
For Defendant: Peter Calo, Esq.
Before the Court is Ralph Reisner's (Defendant) motion to suppress evidence seized within his home, arguing that the affidavit in support of the search warrant (the Affidavit) did not establish probable cause. Conversely, the State of Rhode Island (the State) maintains that the Affidavit was sufficient and established probable cause. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 8-2-15. For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendant's motion to suppress.
Facts and Travel
Detective Brian Macera (Detective Macera) is a ten-year veteran of the Rhode Island State Police (RISP), and is currently assigned to the Computer Crimes Unit (CCU) and the Rhode Island Internet Crimes against Children (ICAC) Task Force.  Aff. at 3. Members of the CCU and ICAC Task Force engage in undercover investigation of computer-related crimes to identify criminals trading child pornography on the Internet using peer-to-peer networks. Id.
Peer-to-peer networks facilitate the sharing of electronic files between participating members over the Internet. Id. To be a participating member, a computer user must install a file-sharing software and "sharing folder" in which files can be stored and shared with other participating members of the peer-to-peer network. Id. Members of the peer-to-peer network can search the network and download any shared file in that network. Id. at 3-4. Each file in the peer-to-peer network is attached to the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computer that is sharing the file. Id. at 2. Further, each file in the peer-to-peer network is identifiable by a "hash" value, which is an "alpha-numeric string . . . that is calculated by applying a mathematical algorithm to the electronic data that is contained in the electronic file." Id. Therefore, if an electronic file has identical content to another file, their hash values will also be identical. As a result, hash values are "commonly referred to as electronic fingerprints." Id. Any changes to the content of an electronic file, no matter how slight, will change the file's hash value. Id. Law enforcement, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the ICAC Task Force have identified certain hash values as confirmed child pornography. Id.
In June 2015, Detective Macera was contacted by Detective Lieutenant Stephen Riccitelli-a detective in the North Smithfield Police Department and member of the ICAC Task Force-who informed him that the ICAC Task Force computer system had downloaded a file suspected to be child pornography from IP address 18.104.22.168. Id. at 5. Detective Macera viewed the downloaded file and confirmed that it contained child pornography as defined in § 11-9-1.3 of Rhode Island's General Laws. Id. Detective Macera described the file as follows:
"File Name: Jamtien.mpeg
Date/Time: June 15, 2015 at 11:42 PM (UTC)
HASH Value: 2aad88e182cc9c66ccd7ba15aa186ecfac39f370
Description: This video file depicts a prepubescent female on the beach removing her bathing suit exposing her genitals." Id.
Detective Macera conducted a search of the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) and determined that IP address 22.214.171.124 was owned by Verizon Internet Services, 2701 South Johnson Street, San Angelo, Texas 76904 (Verizon). Id. Verizon was served with a subpoena, which directed it to provide to RISP the name, address, and telephone number of the subscriber of IP address 126.96.36.199. Id. Verizon identified the subscriber of the IP address 188.8.131.52 as Heather Reisner (Heather) of 15 Harding Street, West Warwick, Rhode Island. Id.
Detective Macera searched law enforcement databases and confirmed that Heather resided at 15 Harding Street, West Warwick, Rhode Island 02893. Id. Although Heather's driver's license indicated that her address was 8 ½ Lachance Street, West Warwick, Rhode Island, she indicated in a previous communication with the West Warwick Police Department that her residence was 15 Harding Street, West Warwick, Rhode Island. Id. at 5-6. Detective Macera also confirmed with the United States Postal Service that Heather was receiving mail at 15 Harding Street, West Warwick, Rhode Island. Id. at 6. On several occasions in July 2015, Detective Macera set up surveillance at 15 Harding Street, West Warwick, Rhode Island and observed a female exiting the residence. Id. Detective Macera recognized the female exiting the house as Heather from her driver's license photograph. Id.
On July 29, 2015, Detective Macera used the above information to apply for a search warrant (the Search Warrant) of 15 Harding Street, West Warwick, Rhode Island and requested that a member of the RISP CCU conduct an on- and off-site forensic review of seized evidence related to the possession and transfer of child pornography. On the same day, the Search Warrant was approved. Subsequently, on August 3, 2015, RISP executed the Search Warrant, seizing Defendant's computer-a Mac Pro desktop (serial number WCAU40341527) (Defendant's Computer). A police forensic examination of Defendant's Computer revealed seven videos of child pornography. Based on this evidence, the RISP obtained an arrest warrant for Defendant, and Defendant was subsequently arrested. On December 24, 2015, the State filed a ...