What type of cell phone information can the police obtain without a warrant? This is an important question under the 4th amendment that the Massachusetts Supreme Court recently addressed. Nowadays, nobody leaves their cell-phones out of their sight, and a cell phone is almost an extension of a person’s body. However, inside of your smartphone are powerful location tracking services, that “ping” your location whenever you are near a cell tower. The use of this data in criminal cases is controversial, and many would consider it an invasion of privacy. The Supreme Judicial Court recently decided a murder case involving cell site location information (CSLI) in Commonwealth v. Wilkerson.
What happened in Wilkerson?
The victim in this case was twenty-three year old Kristopher Rosa, who was a longtime rival of one of the defendant’s high school friends, Rhandisyn Lawrence. Lawrence and the victim had a rivalry that apparently stemmed from both of them dating the same woman, Mendes, who the victim later had a child with. In 2011, Lawrence and the defendant, Wilkerson, chased Rosa in cars when Rosa and his girlfriend were on the way to his mother’s house. He was shot in the chest while still driving and pronounced dead from a gunshot wound. The defendant was convicted of first degree murder of Rosa two years after the incident, when the defendant’s girlfriend called the police.