Chattanooga judge tosses evidence after information collected without warrant

Chattanooga judge tosses evidence after information collected without warrant

March 12th, 2012 by Todd South in News

Ricky Davis, charged with multiple home invasions, is brought out before Judge Barry Steelman while at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County courts building Monday morning.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Judge Barry Steelman is seen in this file photo.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

A judge ruled Monday that evidence gathered by Chattanooga police against a man accused of attempted murder cannot be used because officers did not get a warrant first.

Ricky L. Davis, 26, became the focal point of outcry from North Chattanooga residents in the summer of 2010 shortly after his arrest in multiple burglaries and home invasions.

Davis had been in state prison from January 2006 until April 2010 for guilty pleas on aggravated burglaries in the same area of town. Police arrested him in July 2010 in connection with a robbery at 304 Tremont St.

On Monday, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman ruled in Davis' favor, following a U.S. Supreme Court opinion issued in October 2011 about the use of Global Positioning System devices.

In USA v. Jones, police in the Washington, D.C., area attached a GPS device to a suspect's car to track alleged drug deals. Police got a warrant before using the device, but attached it after the warrant expired. The Supreme Court said valid warrants are required for GPS tracking.

In Davis' case, Chattanooga police did not get a warrant to put the tracking device on the car of Davis' sister, so Steelman ruled that none of the evidence obtained as a result of the tracking device or evidence gathered at Davis' home following the burglaries can be used by prosecutors.

Chris Dixon, Davis' attorney, declined to comment on his client's case.

The Hamilton County District Attorney Office declines to comment on pending cases.

Davis faces four counts of aggravated robbery, one charge of theft, two weapons charges and one charge of attempted first-degree murder related to a series of business robberies in Hixson.

After his arrest in 2010, residents' outcry led Chattanooga police to hold a meeting over growing concern about 14 break-ins and two home invasions in the neighborhood in about a month.

Davis is in custody pending his next hearing date on March 26.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347.