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Nebraska Supreme Court rules text messages were admissible in conviction of drug dealer

December 16, 2018

LINCOLN — “Just because incriminating text messages came from my cellphone doesn’t mean I sent them.” That was the basic argument made by a convicted drug dealer that was rejected Friday by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The court, in upholding the conviction of Courtney Savage, ruled that prosecutors must prove only that the texts from Savage’s cellphone were “more likely than not” composed by him.

Savage’s attorney, Darik Von Loh, had asked the court to use a higher burden of proof adopted in a Nevada court case that required “direct or circumstantial corroborating evidence.”

But Supreme Court Judge John Freudenberg, who wrote the court’s 22-page opinion, said he saw no reason to adopt a new standard of proof in Nebraska for authenticating the authors of text messages. The text messages would have been properly authenticated, the judge wrote, even if the Nevada standard had been applied.

Savage, 36, was sentenced a year ago to serve 10 to 18 years in prison for distribution of methamphetamine and for being a habitual criminal. He was arrested after police had detained a man whose cellphone showed a text message from someone called “Pint” offering to sell him meth.

Police records indicated that Pint was Savage’s nickname, and authorities began texting with Pint to line up a purchase so they could arrest Savage.

When arrested, Savage appeared to be using his cellphone, according to court records. A female acquaintance testified that she had briefly used the cellphone just before the arrest to look up an address, but not to text.

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