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Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Cellphone Search – Affidavit-Supported Warrant – Sufficient Nexus

The trial court’s unchallenged findings of fact show that (1) a victim reported a home invasion in which a distinctive red and black suitcase was stolen from his home; (2) a neighbor provided eyewitness testimony that he saw an older-model, dark Lexus with chrome rims near the victim’s home at the time of the invasion; (3) that same neighbor later positively identified a 1998 black Lexus 400 with chrome rims as the same vehicle that had left the scene of the home invasion; (4) defendant was taken to the hospital in a dark-colored Lexus with chrome rims; and (5) both a white LG cellphone and the victim’s red and black suitcase were found in the Lexus. These findings show the requisite nexus between defendant’s white LG cellphone and the home invasion.

We affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress the fruits of the search of his cellphone.

The trial court’s conclusion that the search warrant was based on probable cause is further supported by a police interview with the Lexus’s owner. The owner explained that she had lent the car to Elias Sanders and that defendant was her cousin and the owner of a white LG cellphone that was missing as of the time of the interview. After the owner gave consent to search the car, law enforcement found both the white LG cellphone and the black and red suitcase in the car. These facts also show a nexus between defendant’s cellphone and the home invasion.

State v. Byrd (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-246-22, 9 pp.) (Allegra Collins, J.) Appealed from Johnston County Superior Court (James Ammons, J.) John Oates for the state; Drew Nelson for defendant. 2022-NCCOA-905


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