Metro

Man acquitted of murder in ’05 dealt blow in pending human trafficking case

Judge says lower court erred in suppressing statements defendant made to police

Aderito Barbosa was acquitted of murder in 2005, but his statements about a hotel room key in a pending human trafficking case might get him locked up for a lengthy stretch.

In a 12-page ruling issued Wednesday, the Massachusetts Appeals Court said jurors can hear statements Barbosa made about a key to a hotel room where investigators had earlier found a distraught woman he’s accused of pimping.

Barbosa, 33, has pleaded not guilty to human trafficking charges, and a trial date in Suffolk Superior Court hasn’t been set.

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Associate Justice Eric Neyman wrote in Wednesday’s ruling that a lower court judge erred in suppressing Barbosa’s statement to investigators that a key they seized from him at Boston’s Park Plaza Hotel in May 2015 went to Room 540.

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Authorities had earlier gone to that room after responding to an ad on the website Backpage.com and found a woman who started crying when police identified themselves, telling them, “ ‘You guys can’t be here. He’s coming,’ ” Neyman wrote.

Law enforcement personnel later approached Barbosa in the hallway near Room 540, and he tried to flee. A struggle ensued, prompting a detective to place him under arrest for assaulting an officer, the ruling said.

Police recovered the key from Barbosa when he was frisked, and he said it was for Room 540 when asked.

Barbosa’s lawyer argued that his statement about the key was inadmissible because the item had no relationship to the assault he had just been arrested for, according to court filings.

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The Appeals Court rejected that argument Wednesday.

Neyman wrote that “apart from arresting the defendant for assault and battery on a police officer, the officers also had reasonable suspicion to believe that he was participating in additional criminal activity, which justified the inquiry regarding the room key. Accordingly, the judge should not have suppressed the defendant’s statement.”

Barbosa’s lawyer, Michael P. Doolin, said in a phone interview that he was disappointed by Wednesday’s ruling.

“But it doesn’t [change] the fact that we believe we have a strong case in the Superior Court, and we look forward to trying the case in front of a jury,” Doolin said.

Barbosa has served time in the past but also escaped a life sentence when Suffolk jurors acquitted him and a co-defendant in 2005 of murder charges stemming from the shooting death of 16-year-old Geoffrey Douglas on a Dorchester MBTA platform four years earlier.

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Defense lawyers claimed Douglas was shot after he pulled a machete out of his backpack and lunged at Barbosa and co-defendant John F. Monteiro. Barbosa and Monteiro were both convicted of armed assault with intent to rob and sentenced to 11 to 14 years in state prison.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.