Private information such as calls, text, and GPS location are all kept on file by cell phone carriers. The Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officers will now require a warrant to access this information.
“Cell phone data can be really useful in creating the case,” Criminal defense attorney Jeremy Loew made the following statement. Loew said that obtaining this type of data can be critical after a crime has taken place.
“To show that a suspect was at a certain location at a certain time when a crime may have occurred,” Loew stated.
In Southern Colorado, there were three recent high profile murder cases which involved this type of evidence. There was a case with Derek Greer and Natalie Partida who were found shot dead near Old Pueblo Road in 2017.
The El Paso County deputies were able to trace one of the main suspect’s cell phone records back to a tower relatively close to the site where the teens were murdered.
There was another case about George Maldonado Sr. who was killed last July in his auto shop. Prosecutors used cell phone records to show that the suspects were near the shop the morning of the fatal robbery as well as the days leading up to it.
In the third high profile case, there was a preliminary hearing which took place last month for Donthe Lucas. Lucas is accused of Killing Kelsie Schelling, prosecutors relied heavily on the texts and cell phone locations to show where Schelling and Lucas were in the final hours leading up to her disappearance.
The Supreme Court ruling which makes cell phones and the data that it collects private means that law enforcement officers must have a warrant in order to be able to legally search it.
This may have a direct impact on any open cases using cell phone data.
“These cases could get thrown out of court if they haven’t already been resolved. Because anything they’ve used without a warrant is tainted,” Loew stated.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 reached out to Pueblo Police as well as the Pueblo District Attorney. However, a direct answer was not given in regards to whether or not the officers got a search warrant for the cell phone records.
The Police stated that they normally get warrants before obtaining that type of information.