State v. Byrd, 2022-NCCOA-905, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Dec. 29, 2022)

In this Johnson County Case, defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from his cellphone. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion.

Defendant was convicted of burglary, robbery, kidnapping, conspiracy, and habitual felony status for a home invasion in September of 2018. The evidence supporting defendant’s conviction came from a search of his cellphone found in a vehicle tied to the home invasion. Defendant argued at trial that the search warrant for his cellphone was not supported by probable cause, but the trial court denied defendant’s motion to suppress.

The Court of Appeals explained that probable cause to support the warrant came from the totality of the circumstances around the cellphone. Here, the cellphone was found in a car identified by an eyewitness as leaving the scene; the car was owned by defendant’s cousin. This same cousin told law enforcement that defendant’s was the owner of a white LG cellphone, matching the phone found in the car after a search. The car also contained a distinctive Tourister case stolen from the home in question. The court found that “[u]nder the totality of the circumstances, these facts show a nexus between [d]efendant’s white LG cellphone and the home invasion.” Slip Op. at 8.