Search warrant questioned in Fox hearing

Image courtesy of Portage County Sheriff’s Office.

Hilary Crisan

The Portage County Court of Common Pleas will allow more time for a judge to consider suppressing a search warrant for the Ravenna apartment where a 22-year-old’s body was found in January.

Judge Laurie Pittman granted a continuance of the hearing to suppress a search warrant for the apartment of John R. Fox, a Portage County man indicted on five felony charges including aggravated murder. Police entered Fox’s Storer Suites apartment without a search warrant and found the body of Alliance man Justin Earley on Jan. 17.

The search warrant in question would further aid police in investigation of the case.

Fox’s defense attorneys Dennis Lager, J.P. Laczko and public defender Heather Burns, claimed the first warrant violated Fox’s constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment, which prohibits unwarranted searches of property.

The team also claimed there was no probable cause for the state to search Fox’s apartment prior to a warrant being issued. They argued that evidence, including Earley’s body, should not be used in Fox’s trial.

“We are asking the court to consider appropriate sanctions for the violation, which is the suppression of any evidence obtained and all derivative evidence that was obtained as a result of the seizure,” said Lager during the hearing.

Detectives already subpoenaed several records, which connected Fox to Earley’s murder. The earlier search warrant led police to discover Earley’s body in the apartment, which led to Fox’s arrest.

The prosecution, including Grand Juror Tom Buchanan and Division Chief Francis Ricciardi, claimed the state received a search warrant for Fox’s apartment with probable cause.

“The Fourth Amendment is a very broad category, and the rules require that you specify the basis for your motion,” said Buchanan to the defense during the hearing.

Fox’s trial is in October and the motion hearing will be continued on Sept. 30.

Read the Motion to Suppress Evidence in State of Ohio vs. John Fox here.

Contact Hilary Crisan at [email protected].