Subject had no expectation of privacy in hotel room


In 2004, Cozell Lyons entered the Merchant and Farmers Bank in Philadelphia sporting a pair of purple sunglasses. Lyons then displayed a blue checkbook cover containing a note which instructed teller Felicia Cook to remain quiet because Lyons had a gun in his pocket.

Lyons then handed Cook a clear plastic bag, into which Cook immediately began placing money, including bills that had been earmarked by the bank for use in the event of a robbery. These bills, referred to as “bait money,” have serial numbers which have been recorded by the bank for purposes of identifying the funds after a robbery has occurred.

After learning his identity, Officer Jimmy Reid, an investigator with the Philadelphia Police Department, and Danny Knight, of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, went to Lyons’s mother’s house in search of him. After obtaining consent from Claudia Lyons, his mother, officers found a suitcase and a pair of purple sunglasses on the bed in Cozell Lyons bedroom.

The officers obtained an arrest warrant and subsequently arrested Lyons. When Lyons was arrested, the police discovered a key to a room registered to Edna Woods at the local Day’s Inn. After securing a warrant, the police searched the motel room, finding the bait money from the robbery.

Lyons was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 28 years. On appeal, he argued the search at the hotel was illegal. MCOA affirmed.


Lyons argues that the police conducted a warrantless trespass into the hotel room, and that the court erred in failing to suppress the money discovered in the room. Lyons cites to Davidson v. State, 240 So. 2d 463 (Miss. 1970).

In Davidson, the defendant was convicted of receiving a stolen tractor. A game warden spotted the tractor on land owned by Davidson, and the warden entered the land to retrieve the tractor’s serial number. The warden then submitted the information to the Quitman County Sheriff’s Department, who secured a warrant to search the defendant’s property. MSC reversed the conviction, finding that the warden illegally searched Davidson’s property.

Unlike Davidson, Lyons has failed to establish that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in Edna Woods’s motel room at the Day’s Inn. In White v. State, 571 So. 2d 956 (Miss. 1990), MSC said that a person has standing to object when they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Lyon’s attorney did not produce any evidence that Lyons had any expectation of privacy in the room, nor did he advance such an argument before the trial court. As Lyons did not produce evidence that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in Woods’s hotel room, he lacked standing to contest the search and the admission of the evidence obtained as a result of the search.