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Why prosecutors haven't opened 2 of 3 phones after the claim a recording reveals who killed Cape teen

In court, Shanice Stewart said Horne's dad has a recording on his phone of Stein's mother saying her son killed Kayla Rincon-Miller.
Posted at 5:53 PM, Jul 10, 2024

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — On Wednesday, Fox 4's Cape Coral Community Correspondent Colton Chavez was looking into why prosecutors said they have three cell phones connected to the murder of a Cape Coral teen, but only one has been opened.

Back on March 17, Cape Coral Police said Christopher Horne Jr. and Thomas Stein robbed and killed 15-year-old Kayla Rincon-Miller as she was walking to McDonald's from the movies.

On Monday, Christopher Horne Jr.'s mother, Shanice Stewart, said Horne's dad has a recording on his phone of Stein's mother saying her son killed Rincon-Miller. She claims Stein's mother also admitted to getting rid of the gun.

"I done gave them the best information they need for the case," Stewart said in court on Monday.

State Attorney Sara Miller told the judge they are not aware this recording exists because they have only been able to get into one of three phones they have in custody.

Pamella Seay, a lawyer and professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, spoke with Colton Chavez about why that could be.

“According to the latest decision from the US Supreme Court...in order to get that information off of a cell phone you need a warrant,” said Seay.

We asked Seay why a warrant was needed when investigators had the right to take the phones as evidence.

“That (cell phone) opens up someone's entire life and allows what they would consider testifying against themselves using the phone," Seay explained. "But if they have a warrant, the warrant has to be narrowly tailored. It says I'm looking at this for a very specific purpose, I'm looking at this for a very specific information, and I am limited to that."

The claim made in court by Shanice Stewart swayed Judge Nick Thompson to continue the hearing until Monday, July 15, so both sides could see if this recorded evidence exists.

Stewart told Judge Thompson she could give prosecutors the passcode to the phone, but was denied the opportunity because the information needed to come from Horne Sr. since it's his phone.

Chavez asked Seay if there's a loophole to that.

"But let's twist the situation a little bit," Seay said. "Let's say that she (Stewart) is the one that has the (phone) account — she is the one that pays the (phone) bills. The phone is in her name he is using her phone. Does that make it his phone or her phone?"

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