Social Media Bust: Be Careful What You Post on Social Media

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By Danae Snell

SACRAMENTO — Posting on social media allows individuals to connect all over the world with just the click of a button; however, it also can inform law enforcement of illegal activity.

Defendants Marcus Grisby and Shannon Morris experienced first-hand the risks that can occur with just one or two posts on Instagram when they were in their Sacramento County Superior Court preliminary hearing the day before Christmas Eve.

Sacramento Police Officer Jonathon Monroe was able to conduct a search warrant after both of the defendants posted videos of themselves possessing firearms—normally this action by itself would not warrant law enforcement’s involvement.

But, and it’s a big “But,” both of the defendants have prior convictions that made it illegal for them to possess firearms.

Officer Monroe informed the court Wednesday morning, “On Grisby’s account we observed him posting videos of him and Morris, where he is holding a firearm and on Mr. Morris’s account, we observed him posting a video of him holding a firearm as well.”

One of the videos even gave Officer Monroe the opportunity to identify the model and millimeter size of one of the firearms.

Based on this information the officer authorized a search warrant only on Defendant Morris’s home because it became apparent after surveillance “both subjects were going into that house” regularly even though defendant Grisby was not living on the property.

Officer Monroe conducted his search in the front bedroom of the house—which appeared to be Defendant Morris’ bedroom—where he found “a bin with clothing in it on the bottom, there was the purple “SCCY” brand hand gun from the video and then a tan Taurus 9 mm handgun next to it at the bottom of the bin.”

Officer Monroe believed the bedroom belonged to defendant Morris “through statements of people on the scene, the fact that his phone was on the bed in there, and then men’s clothing and indicia were in there.”

After searching the defendant’s bedroom, the officer searched a water heater closet and found “a Taurus tan handgun with a black attachment on there and then two additional magazines.

“The tan handgun from the water heater matched the one seen Mr. Morris posted on his Instagram account,” according to Officer Monroe.

Both defense attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Anthony Crisostomo and Court Appointed Attorney Allen Sawyer, argued the officer was unable to truly identify if the firearms from the Instagram post were real.

PD Crisostomo pointed out that the guns were moving all throughout the videos, which meant Officer Monroe “had no frame of reference for the actual scale of what the gun measurements were.”

However, Officer Monroe expressed that, based on his training and experience, he believed the firearms from the videos to be real because of “the overall look of the gun, finding the exact one through internet searches and finding that it actually is a real firearm, the very distinct features on it, and things like it having a barrel that is the size of a barrel that can hold ammunition, having a magazine attached to it, and all those things that go into us being able to identify it as a real firearm.”

Additionally, Officer Monroe added, “You could tell by it being in their hand and pausing the video to look at it.”

Moreover, defendant Grisby’s defense attorney, PD Crisostomo, also noted that the only connection between Grisby and the firearm was the video.

PD Crisostomo made a strong effort to inform the court that his client was outside sleeping in his car while the search of the home was executed and none of his belongings were found in the home.

PD Crisostomo argued that there is no indication that the firearm from the video was even real, but if it was his client did not have access or any form of ownership to the gun because he did not live in the home where the gun was located.

Additionally, PD Crisostomo also added that “Mr. Morris claimed ownership of both the guns himself.”

However, Judge Kevin J. McCormick responded, “Doesn’t that kind of cause problems for your client though? Doesn’t that suggest that the firearm is in fact is the one that previously was in the video with your client and Mr. Morris?”

Judge McCormick also added, “That is a bit of an unusual thing, a purple firearm. To start with that being a little odd. I am 60 and I have never seen a purple firearm in my life, and I am around firearms so that is a little bit unusual.

“Then you got the two of them together in a video with the firearms and then later Mr. Morris claims that it is his gun. That goes far beyond what is necessary for a preliminary situation” the judge stated.

Judge McCormick found sufficient cause for both of the defendants to stand trial, and concluded, “It does not have to be your gun, just a gun you were in possession of at a point in time or had reasonable access to it.”

Trial is scheduled for early in 2021.

Danae Snell is a senior at Sacramento State majoring in Criminal Justice and is from Salinas, California.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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