In wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling, calling warrantless GPS tracking unconstitutional, attorneys around the country are digging through their cases and filing appeals. Eric Vernon, Shon Pernice’s defense lawyer, is no exception. Pernice, an independent firefighter in Kansas City, MO, is charged with first-degree murder of his spouse, whose body has yet to be found. He is scheduled to stand trial later this month, and his attorney hopes that the recent Supreme Court ruling will work favorably in Pernice’s case.
Renee Pernice, the suspect’s spouse, was reported missing in January of 2009. Investigators and Renee’s family believe her husband is responsible for her disappearance. Because the body has yet to be located, there is little hard evidence against the defendant. Now it appears some of the most incriminating evidence is being called into question. The suspect was traced to a park within days of his wife’s disappearance, and was seen releasing the family dog. However, investigators may have only been able to witness this suspicious activity with the help of a GPS tracking device installed on Pernice’s vehicle. According to Vernon, police tracked his client’s cell phone and vehicle without obtaining a warrant.
Vernon filed motions to suppress the evidence gained through illegal GPS tracking. A Clay County judge will make a decision as to the fate of the evidence on Friday. According to Paul Morrison, a former Johnson County District Attorney who now practices as a defense lawyer, the Supreme Court didn’t do investigators any favors. “It’s going to make police work a little harder,” said Morrison. “Prosecutors and police are going to have to get warrants when they want to do this kind of thing.” As more and more cases like this pop up, time will show the lasting impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling.