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Tuesday January 25th

Judge rules to allow evidence from Chandler Kania's iPhone in trial

<p>Chandler Kania leaves his pre-trial hearing at the&nbsp;Orange County Courthouse on Aug. 16.</p>
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Chandler Kania leaves his pre-trial hearing at the Orange County Courthouse on Aug. 16.

An Orange County judge ruled that evidence from Chandler Kania's iPhone can be used in the upcoming trial.

Authorities say Kania, now 21, was involved in a wrong-way collision on I-85 in July 2015 that killed three people and injured a fourth.

In an Aug. 16 pretrial hearing, Roger Smith Jr., one of Kania's defense attorneys, filed two motions that were heard in front of Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour and Orange County Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Nieman. 

The first motion attempted to suppress evidence from Kania's iPhone and the second attempted to postpone the trial. 

According to Sgt. John Collins of the N.C. Highway Patrol's Aug. 16 testimony, Kania's cellphone was not found on him at the scene of the crash. 

Collins said Kania's mother told him she had been contacted by Kania's friends through Kania's cellphone. 

A search warrant was drafted for the phone that granted officers the right to search Kania's UNC Hospitals room and the people in it on July 23, the day of his release.

Trooper Michael Stuart said when he arrived at UNC Hospitals, Kania's parents couldn't find the phone and said it was at their home in Asheboro, but they could retrieve it. 

Randolph County Trooper Christopher Azelton retrieved the phone from Michael Kania, the defendant's father, without argument in the driveway of the Kania home. 

During the pretrial hearing, Smith said the evidence should not be allowed in court because the warrant was improperly serviced. 

“Michael Kania being searched in Asheboro is clearly outside the scope,” he said. “The fatal flaw is that you can’t search somebody with a search warrant for a hospital room in Orange County, in Asheboro.”

Prosecutors said the search warrant was valid and Michael Kania consensually handed the iPhone to authorities without an improper search.

Judge Baddour has now denied the motion to suppress the iPhone evidence. 

Court documents said because Michael Kania volunteered to retrieve the phone from his home, his actions from then on were voluntary, including the collection of the phone by the Randolph County trooper. 

According to documents, "the court concludes that it is not rational to believe that Michael believed his volunteering to get the phone was in direct acquiescence to the search warrant."

@janelittle26

city@dailytarheel.com

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