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High court upholds Omaha man's murder conviction in gang-related slaying

High court upholds Omaha man's murder conviction in gang-related slaying

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LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld Friday the murder conviction of an Omaha man found guilty in a gang-related revenge slaying on a downtown street.

Tillman Henderson was sentenced to life in prison after shooting a rival gang member, Matthew Voss, 14 times, including eight times in the face, at an after-hours party in February 2012. Henderson, now 27, was also convicted of the attempted murder of another man, Antonio Washington, as well as other gun-related felonies.

Police alleged that the slaying came after a long-running gang feud that included a 2009 assault by Voss in a Florida prison of a gang associate of Henderson’s, Jimmy Levering. Levering, who was killed in a shooting outside an Omaha after-hours club in 2011, is a cousin of Nikko Jenkins, who was convicted of four slayings that occurred shortly after his release from a state prison last year.

Henderson appealed his conviction on several grounds, including that police illegally searched his cellphone after his arrest.

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that Douglas County District Judge J. Russell Derr did not violate Henderson’s right to a fair trial when he admitted evidence gathered from the cellphone.

The court’s 30-page opinion, written by Supreme Court Judge Lindsey Miller-Lerman, went into great detail about what is allowed, and what is not, when seeking to search a cellphone.

The ruling cited the landmark decision in June by the U.S. Supreme Court that warrantless searches and seizures of digital contents of a cellphone during an arrest were unconstitutional.

In the Henderson case, the state Supreme Court stated that while there was probable cause to allow two warrants to search the cellphones, the requests by police lacked specificity to prevent “fishing expeditions” of data stored in the phones.

The court, however, refused to toss out evidence gathered by the cellphone searches, ruling that the judge and police acted in “good faith” in issuing and executing the search warrants.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9584, paul.hammel@owh.com

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