Three Minnesota residents were released from the Kane County jail Wednesday while prosecutors appeal a judge's ruling last month that a deputy illegally prolonged a traffic stop and nearly a pound of heroin found in their car could not be used as evidence against them.
Jessica D. Johnson, 29, and Leo W. Cook, 32, both of Redby, and Derek J. Paddy, 20, of Red Lake, had been held at the jail on $800,000 bail since their arrest last November.
The felony charges of armed violence and heroin possession still stand against the trio, but could be dismissed if the state loses its appeal. If convicted, each defendant faces a minimum of 24 years in prison.
In early May, Judge D.J. Tegeler ruled that Kane County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Hain prolonged the traffic stop in violation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling when he asked Paddy and Cook to look for an insurance card. Hain had pulled Johnson over on I-90 near Huntley and issued a warning for following too closely.
As a result of the Fourth Amendment violation against unreasonable search and seizure, 14 ounces of uncut heroin worth an estimated $80,000, along with $9,000 and a loaded 9 mm handgun were ruled inadmissible as evidence.
"The judge made the right decision," said Assistant Public Defender Judi Kullenberg at the time. "The Fourth Amendment is alive and well in Kane County."
The ruling marked the third time in recent months that a traffic stop or search by Hain was deemed illegal.
Judge John Barsanti ruled last year that a Minnesota man was illegally strip searched after in April 2015 traffic stop.
Barsanti also ruled this year that a February 2014 traffic stop of a retired Oregon sheriff deputy's truck was unnecessarily prolonged, which stopped pounds of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana later seized from storage lockers in Chicago and Milwaukee from being used at trial.
Prosecutors eventually dismissed charges in both of those cases, and both men have both filed federal lawsuits against Hain and the sheriff's office.
Citing ongoing litigation, Kane County Sheriff Donald Kramer declined to comment.