LOGAN — A judge has determined that police officers violated the rights of a 23-year-old Hyde Park man when they took his cellphone without a warrant. The decision jeopardizes prosecutor’s case that Kyle A. Balls tried to blackmail a woman to send pornographic photos to him.
Balls was arrested last December when officers reportedly found the photos and a video on his phone. He was later charged with sexual extortion, a third-degree felony; and seven misdemeanors, including distribution of intimate images, voyeurism and electronic harassment.
During a hearing Monday in 1st District Court, public defender Shannon Demler told Judge Thomas Willmore the pornographic material should be thrown out as evidence. He claimed officers illegally took Balls’ phone when they visited his home. He argued that seizing the phone without first obtaining a search warrant violated his client’s constitutional rights.
Cache County Deputy Attorney Dane Murray claimed police took Balls’ phone to keep him from deleting any evidence.
Judge Willmore agreed with Murray that Balls could have deleted the photos and video in seconds, but said officers were working on the case for weeks and should have obtained a warrant. He noted how police can now file for a judge’s order electronically, a process that takes 15 minutes.
Judge Willmore granted Demler’s motion to suppress the phone as evidence, making it difficult for prosecutors to use the pornographic material on the phone in their case.
Murray asked the court for time so he can determine if the case can proceed against Balls in another direction.
Judge Willmore allowed for the time and set a pretrial conference for December 9.
Balls is currently out of jail after posting $16,110 bail. He could face up to five years in prison.