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Defense in double-murder case fights use of cellphone location evidence

A man charged with killing his estranged wife and beating her 11-year-old son to death with a baseball bat wants a judge to bar prosecutors from using his cellphone records as evidence.

Curtis Lopez, 46, is awaiting trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court for the deaths of Jane McQuain and her son, William, whose bodies were found six days apart last October.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers have been arguing over evidence ahead of a scheduled court hearing next week.

One element in dispute is Lopez’s cellphone location records, which police used to trace his movements over the nearly two-week span between the day McQuain was last believed to be alive and the night her body was discovered.

Lopez’s lawyers argue that the use of the records violates his right to privacy, but prosecutors say he should have had no expectation of privacy while driving on public roads from Maryland to North Carolina, where he was arrested the day after McQuain’s body was found. The prosecutors also say the cell records provided only general information about his whereabouts, not a precise pinpoint.

“A person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his location within a public space,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

Lopez is also seeking to suppress evidence from a search of McQuain’s desktop computer because he says he was allowed to use it during the two weeks he was staying at her apartment.

Prosecutors are objecting to that request as well.

A public defender for Lopez did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Jane McQuain was found beaten and stabbed to death inside her Germantown home on the night of Oct. 12 after police checked on her at the urging of a concerned friend who had not heard from her for days. Authorities issued an Amber Alert when they found McQuain’s body, but not William’s.

Lopez was arrested the next day at a Charlotte, N.C., motel after police traced her stolen car there. He was there with his current girlfriend, who authorities have said received text messages from Lopez indicating that he would be bringing McQuain’s car to her and that the vehicle would soon be hers.

William’s body was found Oct. 18 in the woods in nearby Clarksburg following a massive police manhunt. A baseball bat that police believe Lopez used as his weapon was left near the boy.

Authorities say they have surveillance video showing Lopez with William on the last morning the boy is believed to have been alive, and that the clothing the child was wearing in the video appears to match the clothes he had on when his body was found.

Neighbors told police that Lopez, a convicted felon who had been estranged from McQuain, had been seen hanging around her apartment in the days leading up to her death.