Cell phone evidence can be admitted in death penalty murder trial

Anthony Pardon (WBNS-10TV)
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COLUMBUS (WBNS) – By having location services activated on his cell phone, twice-convicted rapist Anthony Pardon could have unknowingly provided additional evidence to prosecutors.

And it’s evidence they plan to use when Pardon’s death penalty trial starts next month.

Pardon, a twice-convicted rapist, is accused in the rape and stabbing death of Rachael Anderson in January of 2018. Authorities have said the two did not know each other and that it was a crime of opportunity after Pardon allegedly entered Anderson’s apartment.

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Prosecutors say that geo-location evidence from Anthony Pardon’s Android cell phone can place him within several feet of the crime scene and other locations connected to the crime.

Upon Pardon’s arrest in February of 2018, police said that they had DNA evidence linking him to the crime, that Anderson’s credit card was used at a gas station and that Anderson had been “tortured.”

On Monday, Judge Stephen McIntosh ruled that Columbus Division of Police Detective James Howe would be able to present evidence about Pardon’s cell phone; specifically that geo-location services would be able to help pin Pardon’s location within a few meters of the crime scene and other locations key to the prosecution’s case.

But Pardon’s attorney, Larry Thomas, objected to how Howe’s testimony being included at trial. Thomas said that Howe’s work has not been third-party or independently tested. Thomas said that the defense is considering having its own cell phone expert testify at trial.

“We are still exploring those possibilities at this time,” Thomas said.

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says the cell phone analysis will be used as evidence that will supplement other evidence – including DNA - in the upcoming trial.

“We expect to use the cell phone location services to place the defendant at particular locations at different times," O’Brien said.

Pardon could face the death penalty if convicted. His trial is expected to start in late January.

10 Investigates found that Pardon spent 25 years in prison in Ohio for attempted murder and rape and - more recently - another nine years in a Georgia prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

A Georgia judge requested that as Pardon served out his probation after his release in Georgia, he wear an ankle monitor and pay for all expenses.

But when he returned to Ohio in the spring of 2017, the state's parole authority did not place him on an ankle monitor - despite that judge’s request.

Records from the state show the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction was concerned about the length of time and “the expense issue.”