MARIETTA, Ga. (CBS46)- Marietta Police say they are relieved to have 26-year-old Landis Coulter. His arrest Wednesday was the first in the city as a result of the a scan by the fixed license plate readers.

Police believe Coulter is the man who allegedly brutally attacked a woman with a butcher knife the day after Thanksgiving and stole her iPhone 7.

It happened at the Laurel Hills Preserve Apartments in Marietta.

"We have an individual who brutally beat up a female, punched her more than 10 times according to the warrant. I'm sorry this is graphic but, he used a boot to stomp on her head, held a knife to her throat threatened to kill her," said Marietta Police spokesperson Chuck McPhilamy." He stated, 'you know that I can kill you,' then grabbed her phone and fled."

Coulter was on the run for weeks until police say he drove past a license plate reader that had been installed in the area.

"Turns out he's been hiding in plain sight," McPhilamy said. "He's been there within a few miles of the victim that he so brutally beat up."

Marietta Police won't disclose the exact location of the LPR in an effort to prevent people from avoiding the area. They were not able to provide CBS46 statistics on how many arrests or citations have been made as a result of the LPR.

They said the discreetly-placed reader connected Coulter's plate to the arrest warrant that was in their system for him and that the LPR sent a notification out to officers that the suspect was in the area. 

"If you're that victim, you want him off the street. Certainly, we in this uniform want him off the street. But, if he is hiding in plain sight and we don't know where to look then this license plate reader picks up a license plate that drives in front of it, associated with that individual. Before you know it, we are able to make an arrest without ever having any controversy surrounding that," McPhilamy said. 

Police reports for the incident indicate that Coulter was not simply a stranger after an iPhone. The police report says the victim and Coulter were a couple going through a bad breakup. The report says the young woman was trying to kick Coulter out of her apartment when the argument began.

The report says the victim was on the phone with a friend saying she did not feel safe when Coulter became upset and tried to take the phone.

"He then stood over her and waved the knife back and forth in her direction shouting, 'you know I can kill you, right!?' She said she begged him to stop and said, 'Please don`t do this, I have a child.'" the report said.

Marietta Police did not indicate the initial domestic dispute, but say the LPR helped them locate Coulter, who the victim said might be headed back to his home state of Ohio.

There are opponents to the use of LPR's. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the readers can invade the privacy of law-abiding citizens and that there is not enough oversight or regulation over the storage of the information collected.

McPhilamy argues that license plates should not come with an exception of privacy as they are "essentially rented from the state."

The Marietta Police Department say it views this LPR arrest as a success and want to work with businesses in the city to have them install more and to collaborate with police. 

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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