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Questionable Murder Evidence: GPS Tracking Without a Warrant

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LIBERTY, Mo. -- A judge in Clay County heard testimony from two more Kansas City, Mo. police officers Wednesday afternoon about evidence gained through the use of a GPS tracking device installed on murder suspect Shon Pernice's vehicle.

Pernice is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Renee Pernice, who disappeared from the couple's Northland home in January of 2009. Her body has yet to be found.

Wednesday's hearing was a continuation of the pre-trial hearing on Friday, Feb. 10. Attorneys for Pernice argued that a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which determined that evidence gathered from GPS tracking devices without a warrant is inadmissible in court, should render any evidence gathered by police against Pernice void. The criminal trial will begin February 27th.

"I think it's pretty obvious and straight forward," said Eric Vernon, Pernice's defense attorney.  "The car belongs to the individual. This was the government's trespassing upon his property and I think it's that simple."

In the pre-trial hearing both Wednesday and last Friday, police officers explained how a GPS tracking device was used to keep an electronic eye on Pernice in the days following his wife's disappearance. One officer testified last week that he was given the order to have the GPS device attached by a superior - the belief being that Pernice could lead investigators to Renee Pernice's body.

The officer also testified that multiple police officers were also assigned to physically tail Pernice.

"If the judge surpresses the evidence from this surveillance, it will have some impact but I can't tell you how much," Vernon said. "If the evidence is allowed and Shon Pernice is convicted, that would be a basis for appeal."

The prosecution and defense must file a brief to argue their points by Friday at five p.m. The judge is expected to decide early next week on whether the GPS evidence will be admitted or tossed out.

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