Baltimore prosecutors will move today to dismiss first-degree murder charges against a teenager accused of gunning down two people from Carroll County because key evidence had been obtained without a search warrant, a spokeswoman for the city state's attorney's office said.
Police had charged Davon David Temple, 17, of the 2500 block of Lauretta Ave. as an adult in the April 23 slayings of Jennifer Lynne Morelock, 25, and Jason David Woycio, 29. Morelock was eight months pregnant at the time, according to her stepfather.
The prosecution's strongest evidence - a text message on Temple's phone that said, "I killed 2 white people around my way 2day & 1 of them was a woman" - was obtained by a city police detective without a search warrant and therefore cannot be used to prosecute the case, said spokeswoman Margaret T. Burns.
She said Temple had granted the detective permission to look through his cell phone for phone numbers, but did not specifically allow him to search his text messages. She said there is no legal precedent for cell phone searches, making it difficult for prosecutors to support the search as legal.
"The guy gives [the detective] his cell phone to look for some gang member's number and he began looking more than that, to his text messages, without a search warrant," Burns said. "It really raises a question of what constitutes a consent search, a voluntary search of your cell phone. When a suspect is stopped and offers his cell phone, how far can the police go?"
Morelock's stepfather, Robert Luber of New Windsor, said he was informed by a Baltimore homicide detective of the decision by prosecutors to drop the charges but was assured that the detective "was going to keep working on it."
Luber said Morelock had a year-old daughter at the time of her death. "She had been on drugs five years ago, and met this guy at a methadone clinic," he said of the other slaying victim. "He called her and begged for a ride into Baltimore to get drugs. ... She was clean. She was on methadone," Luber said.
Burns said police and prosecutors will continue to mount a case.
"It's very disappointing because we are working very hard in the interest of justice for these families. Two people were murdered," she said.