In a recent opinion in an Arizona sexual abuse case, the court denied the defendant’s request for a new verdict. A jury had convicted of a mixture of twenty-five felony and misdemeanor counts, including felonies of molestation of a child and sexual conduct with a minor, as well as misdemeanors of indecent exposure and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. On appeal, the defendant argued that some of the evidence used to find him guilty should have been suppressed; namely, when officers searched his cell phone and found incriminating photos, they were not actually authorized to be looking through his personal property. The court disagreed, finding the warrant that the officers used gave them permission to search the defendant’s phone.
The Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was convicted after having molested his stepdaughter from the time that she was eight years old. The abuse remained constant throughout the victim’s childhood, and when the victim turned sixteen years old, the defendant began having sexual intercourse with her. In 2015, the victim and her biological father reported the incidents to the police, and a formal investigation began. During this investigation, detectives learned that the victim and the defendant had exchanged photographs of each other’s genitals over text message, as well as that the defendant had recently taken her cell phone away from her.
A few days later, police officers secured a search warrant, which identified fifteen specific items that the police were authorized to search. These items included the defendant’s cell phone and other electronic devices. A search of his cell phone led to the discovery of several nude photos of the victim, including photos of the defendant and the victim having sex.