Lawyer: Police illegally searched phone of suspect in Lower Burrell man’s overdose |
Valley News Dispatch

Lawyer: Police illegally searched phone of suspect in Lower Burrell man’s overdose

Rich Cholodofsky

The lawyer for a Penn Hills man awaiting trial on charges that he sold drugs used in last year’s fatal overdose of a Lower Burrell man contends a police search of her client’s cellphone was illegal.

Christopher Napper, 25, is charged with drug delivery resulting in death, drug possession counts and the criminal use of a communication device in connection with the Aug. 26, 2018, death of Douglas Shirey, 41.

Police said Napper provided doses of fentanyl-laced heroin to Shirey that caused his death. According to court records, key pieces of evidence against Napper that linked him to Shirey were obtained from a search of his cellphone.

Defense attorney Anne Marie Mancuso argued in court documents filed Tuesday that the search warrant police received for Napper’s phone was too broad and did not seek specific information.

“The Lower Burrell police clearly requested and were authorized to search and seize the entire contents (from the) cellphone. Furthermore, there was no limitation whatsoever as to the dates or time frame of the authorized search nor was the search limited to evidence which was potentially relevant to the relatively straightforward and temporally discrete issues in the case,” Mancuso wrote.

The defense wants Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio to bar prosecutors from using all text messages, call log information, video and photographs as evidence against Napper at his trial, which is scheduled to begin Dec. 2.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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