CRIME

Antoine Jones pleads guilty, accepts 15 years sentence

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(AP/ABC7) - A former Washington nightclub owner who got a new trial on cocaine distribution charges after a Supreme Court verdict has pleaded guilty and will spend 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Antoine Jones accepted a plea deal Wednesday, and a judge approved the 15-year sentence. Jones, who has been in prison since 2005, will get credit for the time he has already served.

Jones' friends who came to court Wednesday applauded his decision.

"It's a good thing for his family and friends. We'll get see him again," said friend Viki Taylor.

Before his 2005 arrest, Jones owned two D.C. nightclubs. But after police linked him to a drug stash house in Ft. Washington by placing a GPS on his car, he was put on trial.

Jones' first trial ended in a mistrial. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in a subsequent trial. Jones was tried a third time after the U.S. Supreme Court found a problem with GPS tracking data used in the case. Police installed a tracking device on Jones' car without a warrant.

Jones' third trial ended in a mistrial in March.

In the U.S. Supreme Court case, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the government's installation of a GPS device, and its use to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a search, meaning that a warrant is required.

"By attaching the device to the Jeep" that Jones was using, "officers encroached on a protected area," Scalia wrote.

All nine justices agreed that the placement of the GPS on the Jeep violated the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Scalia wrote the main opinion of three in the case. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor.

Sotomayor also wrote one of the two concurring opinions that agreed with the outcome in the Jones case for different reasons.

Justice Samuel Alito also wrote a concurring opinion in which he said the court should have gone further and dealt with GPS tracking of wireless devices, like mobile phones. He was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

A federal appeals court in Washington had overturned Jones's drug conspiracy conviction because police did not have a warrant when they installed a GPS device on his vehicle and then tracked his movements for a month. The Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court.

The head of the Private Investigators Association said the high court ruling severely hinders law enforcement.

"It's obviously much more costly to hire a team of investigators to follow someone than to have one device that does it for you."

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