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Illinois Personal Injury & Criminal Defense / Blog / Criminal Defense / Murder Defendant Moves to Suppress Evidence of Text Messages on Cellphone

Murder Defendant Moves to Suppress Evidence of Text Messages on Cellphone


In the case of People v. Price, the defendant, Price, was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury of his peers. As a result, he was sentenced to a 60-year prison term. He later appealed the conviction on the grounds that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

On July 22, 2015, the defendant was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. The indictment alleged that the defendant used a firearm to cause a death on November 24, 2014. The victim’s body was discovered the next day. That day, the police spoke with residents of the apartment complex where the body was found. This included an interview with the defendant. At the time, the defendant was read his Miranda rights and agreed to waive those rights. While being interviewed the defendant said he had been in the victim’s apartment the night before and had an argument about a speaker. The defendant said he later left the apartment and drove around. Later, he called 911 from somewhere in Indiana because he got lost. He told the officers that police refused to escort him back to the highway, but a couple of security guards were able to put directions in his navigation system on his phone.

The interviewing officers asked the defendant’s consent to search his phone. The defendant provided both verbal and written consent. The consent form contained the phone’s serial number. The officers made a copy of the defendant’s phone records.

Later that month, an agent of the FBI performed a search of the copied cell phone data. The agent only looked at the GPS data. The defendant was later arrested on July 22, 2015. The agent performed another search of the cell phone data and discovered two deleted text messages sent from the defendant’s brother to the defendant. The first text appeared to be instructions on destroying evidence related to the shooting. The defendant’s brother instructed him to “piss on his right hand or use ammonia on your shirt and check your clothes for residues.” The second text message included instructions to delete the first message.

During trial, the defendant’s counsel filed a motion to suppress evidence related to the two text messages. The defendant’s motion acknowledged that the defendant gave his written consent to search the cell phone for “text messages, contacts, GPS, call logs, and all applications,” but alleged that no search warrant was obtained to search the entirety of the defendant’s phone “for all digital contents contained within the phone.” In other words, his attorneys argued that the search exceeded the written consent given by the defendant. Thus, it violated his Fourth Amendment rights against “unreasonable” search.

In this case, the trial court granted the defense’s motion to suppress the text messages. However, the defendant was still convicted because his brother testified against him during trial in exchange for not being charged as an accessory after the fact.

Talk to a Champaign, IL Criminal Defense Attorney Today 

Patel Law, P.C. represents the interests of Illinois residents who are facing criminal charges. Call our Champaign criminal defense lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.



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