Warrantless Tracking: Evidence Suppressed In OH Robbery Case

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It seems as if law enforcement doesn’t always get it right. Judges have ruled some evidence must be suppressed in the case against two accused robbers. Why? It seems deputies affixed a GPS device on one of their vehicles without first obtaining a warrant, a big no-no.


The judges had originally allowed the evidence, but after the 2012 US Supreme Court ruling in the US v. Jones case, they reversed this decision in the cases against Montie Sullivan and David White. You may recall the Jones case, a suspected drug dealer who had a GPS tracking device placed on his car after a warrant had expired. Justices decided this violated Jones’ Fourth Amendment rights.


Sullivan and White are charged with seven burglaries and home invasions. Common Pleas Judge Michael Holbrook looked at the evidence against Sullivan and ruled that it must be suppressed because the lack of a warrant when placing the GPS device on his vehicle violated his rights. Of course, prosecutors are appealing this ruling.


Both Sullivan and White have been in jail since their arrests after the string of armed break-ins which occurred back in January 2010. That’s right, the pair have been waiting three years for their cases to be decided.


It was decided the evidence against Sullivan collected with the GPS device would be suppressed, but what about White? Because the car being tracked by the GPS device was not White’s personal property, his rights were not violated, and the evidence was not suppressed. In addition, he allowed the evidence that was taken from Sullivan’s car to be used because there was a warrant obtained for the search.


As expected, prosecutors for both parties have filed appeals. Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said he “expects to appeal the Sullivan case and to proceed with prosecution of White.” Prosecutor Gregg Marx agrees: “We’ve been in frequent contact with Ron O’Brien’s office on the appeal issue.”


It remains to be seen if the appeal will do any good.

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Khristen Foss

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