DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday regarding the constitutionality of a search warrant in a high-profile murder case.
On Aug. 5, 2020, five members of the Diol family were killed when fire destroyed a home at 5312 North Truckee Street in Green Valley Ranch.
Denver Police quickly determined that the fire was intentionally set, but the case was completely cold for several months, until, detectives say, Google helped crack the case.
Based on the results of a warrant they served on Google looking for people who had recently searched the Truckee Street address, detectives said they identified three teens as suspects: 16 year-old Kevin Bui, 16 year-old Gavin Seymour and a 15-year-old charged as a juvenile.
It was the big break in the case, which eventually resulted in police arresting the three teens.
In pre-trial hearings, a Denver judge ruled that the Google search was legal. Seymour's defense team disagreed. On Thursday, they argued in front of the Colorado Supreme Court that the search was far too broad and that billions of Google accounts were searched in the process, violating the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
But prosecutors told the judges a much different story, saying the search technology may be new but that the search request was narrow in scope and, therefore, well within the limits of the law.
9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson said no matter what the justices decide, the case will have broad implications on online searches and seizures in the future.
"The law is always playing catch up to technology, and traditional Fourth Amendment concepts don't really translate to the digital age. There's certainly substantial grounds to uphold the search and at least equally substantial grounds to set it aside and, whichever way they rule, it's going to have enormous consequences on future investigations," Robinson said. "This is not going to be an easy case for the Supreme Court to decide."
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue in the next few months.
If the judges do not allow the Google search evidence to be admitted at trial, it would be a major blow to prosecutors and their case.
Seymour and Bui have yet to be tried. The youngest of the suspects, who is now 17, pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced earlier this year.
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