The Supreme Court of Georgia has denied the appeal of accused killer Michael Jason Registe, allowing the state to use cell phone records in his prosecution in the shooting deaths of two men in 2007.
The case gained national attention when Registe fled the country, sparking an international manhunt that was featured on “America’s Most Wanted.”
Registe is accused in the execution-style shootings of 21-year-old Randy Newton Jr. and 20-year-old Bryan Kilgore in July 2007 at the Cross Creek Apartments in Columbus. Both victims were Columbus State University student-athletes.
At issue in the appeal was evidence garnered through Registe’s cell phone records.
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A Chevrolet Blazer in which the men were shot and killed belonged to a friend of Kilgore’s, who had borrowed the SUV to go and meet someone named “Mike.” The man told police Kilgore had left him a phone number for “Mike,” and when Kilgore failed to return, he called the number. The person who answered said Kilgore had come and gone.
Police determined that the number was from Cricket Communications and sought records connected to the number. Those records led to Registe.
Registe’s lawyers contended that the records were given without benefit of a warrant and should not be allowed into evidence. A lower court denied that motion, leading to the Supreme Court appeal.
“We conclude that Cricket believed in good faith that disclosure of Registe’s cell phone records was appropriate,” Justice Harold Melton wrote for the court. “Here, Cricket received information directly from police that its records could help identify an at-large suspect of a double homicide committed within a day of the request and that the suspect presented a present and immediate danger. This supported Cricket’s good faith belief that there was an ongoing emergency, and that belief supported Cricket’s voluntary disclosure of its records.”