GA: Cell phone believed to be on def’s person at time of robbery and murder is subject for SW for evidence of the crimes

The affidavit for the warrant showed probable cause and particularity for search of defendant’s cell phone for evidence of an armed robbery and murder [essentially on the officer’s experience]. The trial court suppressed a pre-warrant search of defendant’s cell phone, but not a post-warrant search, and this wasn’t error. Johnson v. State, 2021 Ga. LEXIS 1 (Jan. 11, 2021):

Given all of this, we conclude that the officer’s affidavit provided a “substantial basis” for the magistrate to determine that probable cause existed for the issuance of a warrant for Johnson’s phone. See Palmer, 285 Ga. at 77. The affidavit described with sufficient particularity the phone to be seized and the data to be collected from that phone, which was limited to evidence of armed robbery and murder. See Rickman v. State, 309 Ga. 38, 42 (842 SE2d 289) (2020) (search warrants did not lack sufficient particularity where, “read as a whole,” they “limited the search of the contents of [defendant]’s cell phones to items reasonably appearing to be connected to [victim]’s murder”); Westbrook v. State, 308 Ga. 92, 98 (839 SE2d 620) (2020) (“[T]he use of the phrase “electronic data” was specific enough to enable a prudent officer to know to look for photographs and videos stored on [defendant]’s cell phone.”); Reaves v. State, 284 Ga. 181, 185 (664 SE2d 211) (2008) (a warrant authorizing a search “for specified items of potential evidence, as well as for ‘other related items to the crime of murder’ or for ‘any other fruits of the crime of murder,’ is sufficiently particular and does not authorize a general search in violation of the Fourth Amendment”) (citations omitted). See also Hourin v. State, 301 Ga. 835, 844 (804 SE2d 388) (2017) (“The degree of the description’s specificity [in the search warrant] is flexible and will vary with the circumstances involved.”) (citation and punctuation omitted). The affidavit also alleged a sufficient connection between the phone and the crimes at issue. The facts laid out in the affidavit showed that several people were involved in the robbery and that Johnson helped the robbers enter the store through the back door. It was reasonable to infer from these facts that Johnson likely used his phone to communicate with the other perpetrators. See Taylor v. State, 303 Ga. 57, 61 (810 SE2d 113) (2018) (“[A] magistrate may draw ‘reasonable inferences . . . from the material supplied to him by applicants for a warrant.'”) (quoting Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 240 (103 SCt 2317, 76 LE2d 527) (1983)); Glispie, 300 Ga. at 133 (“In light of the facts and circumstances detailed in the search warrant application, it was reasonable for the magistrate to infer that the cell phones in [defendant]’s possession at the time of his arrest were used as communicative devices with third parties for drug deals.”).

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