The state Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence against a Jefferson City man without ruling on whether law enforcement violated his rights by using his cell phone to find him.
When police identified David Hosier as the suspect in the 2009 murders of Angela and Rodney Gilpin, they asked his cell phone provider to help find him by seeing what cell phone tower his phone was pinging. That traced him to Oklahoma, where he tried to flee law enforcement and was caught with a bulletproof vest and a gun in plain sight in his car.
Hosier argued that “pinging” his cell phone amounted to a search that officers didn’t have probable cause to ask for, so he says the evidence found in his car shouldn’t have been allowed to be used against him at trial.
The Court ruled that he gave Oklahoma law enforcement cause when he attempted to get away from them, and that and the information they learned from Missouri authorities made the search OK.
The Court also ruled against Hosier’s other arguments against his conviction and challenges of the evidence used against him.
The Court’s ruling does not address the question of whether pinging a cell phone to find someone is legally considered a search and therefore subject to Fourth amendment protections.
Hosier was sentenced to death for the murder of Angela Gilpin. He had been having an affair with her while she was estranged from her husband, but the Gilpins were attempting to reconcile.