A felony case against a Pennsylvania man charged with burglarizing cars in Ketchum last spring was dismissed following a judge’s ruling that police lacked probable cause to detain and question him.
Philip Lee Remedio, 22, faced one felony charge of grand theft following a string of car burglaries reported on May 23-24 near Warm Springs Road. But Remedio’s attorney, Andrew Parnes, argued in a motion-to-suppress document that his client’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches or seizure was violated when he was placed in handcuffs and taken in for questioning by Ketchum police on May 24.
Following a hearing on the motion in February and a ruling to exclude evidence by 5th District Judge Ned Williamson in March, the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office moved to dismiss the case on April 17. Williamson granted the motion two days later.
According to the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, nine vehicle burglaries were reported on Warm Springs Road between the evening of May 23 and the morning of May 24. Items reported stolen included several handguns, which were allegedly found on the evening of May 24 in a backpack at the now-former Hot Water Inn.
Ketchum police focused on Remedio as a suspect when a co-owner of the inn on Picabo Street called the Police Department and asked an officer to come to the inn to discuss a theft. The co-owner said he had found a backpack containing the stolen weapons at a door in the hallway of the inn. He also said Remedio told him the backpack belonged to another person who had left it in his room.
When questioned by police at the station, Remedio said he was with another person the night before whom he had watched break into several vehicles and take items, including the guns that were found in the backpack, according to a probable-cause affidavit by Sgt. David Aslett.
“Remedio admitted to taking the backpack back to his room and concealing it until the afternoon,” Aslett wrote.
Burglary and grand theft charges were dropped against the other person in August due to insufficient evidence.
Williamson wrote that the evidence connecting Remedio to the burglaries was a statement made by the co-owner of the inn that an “unknown friend” of the other person accused of the burglaries said he or she had heard Remedio and the other person speaking about breaking into cars on the night of May 23.
Williamson ruled that hearsay statements can be accepted as probable cause for a search only when the basis of the original speaker’s knowledge is demonstrated and the person’s credibility is established.
“Under this test, the Court cannot find that the State would meet its burden to show reliability or credibility of the unknown ‘friend,’” Williamson stated.
As a result, he ruled that Remedio’s statements to police could not be introduced as evidence.