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Suspect's cell phone used as evidence in Charlotte robbery charges

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have charged a 27-year-old man with committing a series of robberies. The young man is now facing various criminal charges, chief among them robbery with a dangerous weapon.

The evidence police recorded in the case deserves closer scrutiny. According to a local news report, one alleged robbery took place on April 3 at roughly 2:30 a.m. In that instance, the police confiscated a cell phone that was left at the scene. A photograph on the phone was later used to charge the 27-year-old.

Police say a second robbery occurred just three hours later. In that case, a man said his cell phone and wallet were stolen by a man wearing a red bandanna. A third robbery is said to have occurred in the same area, and police say the suspect in that incident was also wearing a red bandanna.

On April 4, police officers stopped a car when detectives supposedly saw a man inside who had an outstanding warrant. The young man who is now in custody on robbery charges was a passenger in the vehicle, and authorities say they found a red bandana and firearm on his person. Additionally, police claim that a photo on the cell phone left at the first crime scene matched the identity of the 27-year-old.

The man is now facing criminal charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a felon and carrying a concealed weapon. He is also accused of violating his probation. However, questions still remain as to the validity of the evidence obtained by police, as well as to the search and seizure. Regarding the evidence, it may be worth asking whether the cell phone found at the first crime scene was also stolen. Moreover, there are specific laws regarding the seizure of evidence, and if those laws are violated in the search of a vehicle, then the evidence obtained may be inadmissible in court.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "Alleged robber leaves cell phone behind, with his picture on it," Steve Lyttle, April 6, 2012

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