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Prosecutors drop robbery case to preserve stingray secrecy in St. Louis

Published: April 20, 2015
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Source: Ars Technica

Prosecutors in St. Louis, Missouri, have seemingly allowed four robbery suspects to go free instead of explaining law enforcement’s use of a stingray in court proceedings.

The St. Louis case provides yet another real-world example where prosecutors have preferred to drop charges instead of fully disclose how the devices, also known as cell-site simulators, work in the real world. Last year, prosecutors in Baltimore did the same thing during a robbery trial.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the dismissal this month came just one day before a St. Louis police officer was set to be deposed in the robbery case where three men and a woman were accused of stealing from seven people in September 2013.

Neither the office of Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce nor the office of Megan Beesley, a public defender involved in the case, immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment over the weekend. The St. Louis Police Department also did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

While the St. Louis newspaper did not name the suspects, it reported that an unnamed Circuit Attorney spokesman denied any connection between the dismissal and the forthcoming deposition.

According to court records, detective John Anderson told defense attorneys that the cops had used a "proven law enforcement technique" in order to locate one of the stolen phones and eventually the suspects. Anderson refused to elaborate, citing a non-disclosure agreement that he and his agency were bound by.

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