Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects
us from unreasonable searches or seizures. A vehicle stop is
a seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
lawfully stop a vehicle to investigate a crime (an
investigatory detention), officers must have reasonable
suspicion-an objective and specific basis for suspecting that
the person being stopped is involved in criminal activity,
either because the person is committing a crime, has
committed a crime, or is about to commit a crime. What is
reasonable depends on all the circumstances as viewed from
the perspective of a trained police officer, but officers
must have specific and articulable facts in support of their
suspicion for it to be reasonable.
stop a vehicle based on suspicion that a person properly
subject to police investigatory detention is in it, an
officer must have specific and articulable facts that the
person is in the vehicle. If the officer knows only that a
relative of the suspect owns a similar car that had at some
point been seen at the suspect's residence, the officer
does not have specific and articulable facts to support
reasonable suspicion that the suspect is in the vehicle at a
police perform an unconstitutional search or seizure, the
exclusionary rule generally bars the admission and use of the
evidence obtained in a criminal trial. Because the
exclusionary rule is a court-made remedy designed to deter
improper police conduct, it is subject to several exceptions.
One is the inevitable-discovery exception, which allows the
admission of otherwise unconstitutionally obtained evidence
if the police eventually would have found that evidence by
this case, the defendant's cell phone was obtained by
police through an unlawful car stop. Police then used that
cell phone to determine the defendant's cell-phone number
and to obtain relevant phone records. But officers would have
discovered the same information even if they had not used the
cell phone. The database that officers use to review phone
records indicated that the phone number likely belonged to
the defendant. Likewise, the same phone number appeared in a
rap-music video that the defendant made. Under these
circumstances, the district court properly concluded that
officers would have inevitably discovered the same phone
records even if they had not used the cell phone obtained
through an unlawful car stop.
Because the only evidence supporting the defendant's
marijuana-possession conviction was found after an unlawful
car stop, the defendant's conviction must be reversed.
a trial error that infringes upon a defendant's
constitutional rights may be declared harmless if the State
proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the error did not
affect the trial's outcome in light of the entire record.
this case, the defendant was connected to a vehicle used in a
drive-by shooting in part because officers found a car key in
his pocket during an unlawful car stop that took place the
day after the shooting. Based on our review of all the
evidence in the case, we cannot say beyond a reasonable doubt
that the admission of the key and other inadmissible evidence
obtained through the unlawful car stop had no effect on the
jury's verdict. We therefore reverse the defendant's
conviction for aggravated battery and remand the case for a
Under the business-records exception to the hearsay-evidence
rule, records of acts or events may be offered for their
truth if the judge finds that (1) they were made as part of
regular business operations at or about the time of the acts
or events and (2) the sources of information for the records
indicate they are trustworthy.
appellate court reviews a district court's decision to
admit business records only for abuse of discretion, meaning
that we reverse only if the district court's decision is
one no reasonable person would agree with or was based on a
legal or factual error.
Information collected by reliable computer systems in the
regular course of business and then compiled into a document
by a business employee is generally admissible under the
business-records exception. The district court did not err
when it admitted cell-phone records maintained in the
ordinary course of business by a cell-phone provider.
from Shawnee District Court; Nancy E. Parrish, judge.
Reversed and remanded with directions.
Christopher M. Joseph and Carrie E. Parker, of Joseph,
Hollander & Craft LLC, of Topeka, for appellant.
Litfin, deputy district attorney, Michael F. Kagay, district
attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, for appellee.
Green, P.J., Buser and Leben, JJ.
Eron Carr appeals his convictions for possession of marijuana
and aggravated battery, the latter conviction based on
Carr's alleged participation in a drive-by shooting and
police chase. Carr argues that significant evidence against
him for both charges came from an unlawful car stop and
shouldn't have been admitted. We agree: officers lacked
reasonable suspicion to believe Carr was in the vehicle they
stopped. Accordingly, the marijuana found after the stop in
his pocket can't be used as evidence and Carr's
marijuana-possession conviction must be reversed.
State used additional evidence found through the unlawful car
stop to support Carr's aggravated-battery conviction; the
State argues that we should find any error in the admission
of that evidence harmless. But on the standard that applies
here, we can only find the error harmless if we conclude
beyond a reasonable doubt that its admission didn't lead
to Carr's conviction. We are unable to make that finding
here. One of the items found on Carr was a key to the vehicle
apparently used in the drive-by shooting. While there was
other circumstantial evidence that Carr had been in that
vehicle when the crime was committed, having the vehicle key
in his possession only a short time later formed a critical
link. Given the circumstantial nature of the case, we cannot
conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury would have
convicted Carr without the evidence illegally obtained at the
car stop. We therefore reverse his aggravated-battery
conviction as well and send the case back to the district
court for a new trial on that charge.
and Procedural Background
shootings in Topeka in July 2015 are at the heart of this
case. On July 17, Royelle Lamont Miller was outside in front
of his house when someone in a car driving by shot him. The
next day, someone shot and killed Antwon Love. (Since we will
refer to several people from the same family and none of the
significant parties or witnesses have the same first name, we
will generally refer to the witnesses and actors by their
after Royelle was shot, around 9 p.m., Officers Barry Nelson
and Scott Koch from the Topeka Police Department saw a
dark-colored Dodge Durango blow through a stop sign in the
Hi-Crest neighborhood. The officers attempted to stop the
Durango, but after initially pulling over, it sped away,
resulting in a police chase. During the chase, the Durango
ran through a second stop sign going approximately 70 miles
per hour. At some point, the officers lost sight of the
Durango, but they later recovered a gun they believed was
thrown from it during the chase.
the same time, the officers learned that a shooting had
occurred nearby, so they responded to that scene. Royelle,
who had been outside the house at the time of the shooting,
had been shot in his leg. He said a dark-colored car drove by
when he was shot but he did not see who shot him.
Wallace and Jesse Hughes were also there when Royelle was
shot, and police found some bullet holes in the house. Andre
initially told police that he was in the house and did not
see the shooting. He later testified at trial that he could
not remember what had happened or where he had been. Jesse
testified that he "heard gun ...