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Another mistrial declared in warrantless-GPS case

WASHINGTON — A federal judge declared a mistrial Monday in the case of a D.C. nightclub owner charged with drug conspiracy — 2 ½ years after his previous conviction was tossed out because police used a global positioning device to track him without a warrant.

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle declared the mistrial when jurors could not reach a verdict for Antoine Jones after more than seven days of deliberations.

This was actually the third trial for Jones. His first trial, in 2007, also ended in a mistrial. He was convicted in a second trial and sentenced to life, but a federal appeals court reversed. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the reversal last year in a major decision that has prompted police to seek search warrants more often before they use GPS tracking devices.

On Monday, Huvelle told the jurors she was declaring a mistrial with “great, great regret.”

The two sides will appear before the judge again on Tuesday afternoon.

“I fully expect the government will announce it will retry this case,” prosecutor Darlene Soltys told Huvelle.

The government alleged that Jones was linked to a house in Fort Washington, where authorities found nearly $1 million in cash and nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine.

Jones represented himself in the case, although he did have the assistance of court-appointed lawyers.

Jones, owner of the Levels nightclub, was arrested in 2005. A joint task force of the FBI and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department had obtained a 10-day warrant to install a GPS device on Jones’ car in the District of Columbia but failed to use it as specified. After the warrant expired, they found Jones’ car in a parking lot in Maryland and installed the device, then monitored his driving patterns for 28 days.

The police also obtained cell-site data during their investigation, but did not use it during the earlier trials because they had the more reliable GPS data. Last month, the judge presiding over the current trial found the cell-site data admissible.