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Name: People v. Maury
Case #: S012852
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/24/2003

In 1985, an anonymous caller to a Secret Witness program gave information regarding the location of Weeden’s body about a month after she had disappeared, which led to the discovery of her body. In 1986, defendant called the Secret Witness program about a reward in an unrelated burglary and identified himself by name. The operator believed he was the same person who had called about the Weeden case. In June 1987, Berryhill and Stark disappeared and shortly thereafter, the Secret Witness operator received a series of calls from an unidentified man who she believed to be the earlier caller. The information he provided led to the discovery of the women’s bodies. When the caller retrieved the reward money at a designated location, the police photographed defendant and identified him as the caller. After the police confronted appellant with this information, he made incriminating statements which led to his arrest. The court rejected defendant’s argument that all evidence of his calls to the Secret Witness program, and resulting evidence such as his identity as the caller, should have been suppressed. No person could have a reasonable expectation of privacy that the information divulged would remain confidential, since the stated goal of the program was to gather information helpful to law enforcement. There was no guarantee that the program would maintain the caller’s anonymity in all circumstances. There was no reasonable expectation of privacy where the information the caller divulges reasonably gives law enforcement probable cause to believe that the caller is the perpetrator of the crimes. Finally, defendant’s statements to the Secret Witness program were not involuntary. His desire to provide information to obtain a reward was self-motivated.