State v. Crawley, 217 N.C. App. 509 (Dec. 20, 2011)

Cell phone records introduced by the State were properly authenticated. At trial the State called Ryan Harger, a custodian of records for Sprint/Nextel, a telecommunications company that transmitted the electronically recorded cell phone records to the police department. The defendant argued that the cell phone records were not properly authenticated because Harger did not himself provide the records to the police and that he could not know for certain if a particular document was, in fact, from Sprint/Nextel. The court noted that Harger, a custodian of records for Sprint/Nextel for 10 years, testified that: he is familiar with Sprint/Nextel records; he has testified in other cases; Sprint/Nextel transmitted records to the police and that he believed that was done by e-mail; the records were kept in the normal course of business; the documents he saw were the same as those normally sent to law enforcement; and the relevant exhibit included a response letter from Sprint, a screen print of Sprint’s database, a directory of cell sites, and call detail records. Although Harger did not send the documents to the police, he testified that he believed them to be accurate and that he was familiar with each type of document. This was sufficient to show that the records were, as the State claimed, records from Sprint/Nextel, and any question as to the accuracy or reliability of such records is a jury question. The court went on to conclude that even if Harger’s testimony did not authenticate the records, any error was not prejudicial, because an officer sufficiently authenticated another exhibit, a map created by the officer based on the same phone records. The officer testified that he received the records from Sprint/Nextel pursuant to a court order and that they were the same records that Harger testified to. He then testified as to how he mapped out cell phone records to produce the exhibit.