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Many people like the convenience of virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri. Unfortunately, police and prosecutors may attempt to seize recordings from suspects’ and defendants’ virtual assistants as evidence of crimes. The following is from “Police think Alexa may have witnessed a New Hampshire double slaying—now they want Amazon to turn her over” by Meagan Flynn, The Washington Post, November 14, 2018 https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-alexa-new-hampshire-murder-witness-20181114-story.html
Prosecutors in Farmington, New Hampshire, want to use any recordings found on the defendant Timothy Verrill’s Alexa, the artificial woman who personifies the Amazon Echo virtual assistant, to see if it provides key evidence that Verrill killed Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pelligrini on January 27, 2017. A judge has ordered Amazon to turn over any recordings the Echo device may have made from Jan. 27, the day the women were killed, until Jan. 29.
In a statement to The Post, an Amazon spokesperson indicated Amazon wouldn't be turning over the data so easily, appearing to prioritize consumer privacy as it has done in the past.
"Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us," the spokesperson said. "Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."
When police arrived at the crime scene on January 29, 2017, they found blood splattered on the kitchen walls and on the refrigerator, New Hampshire State Police Sergeant Strong said. It was soaked into the mattress in the upstairs bedroom, where police believe Pellegrini was stabbed 43 times.
On the night of the murder, Smoronk, the suspected drug trafficker, received a phone call from Verill in the early morning hours of Jan. 27: Verrill, Smoronk told police, was concerned Jenna Pellegrini was an informant, Foster's Daily Democrat reported.
In a matter of hours, home surveillance captured Verrill arriving at the home where in a flannel shirt and a ball cap, Strong testified during the bail hearing. Within 20 minutes, he was captured attempting to obscure the lens of three of the surveillance cameras before ultimately shutting the system down.
And over the next several days prosecutors say he made a series of suspicious trips around town, according to footage by WMUR-TV. He bought cleanup products from a Walmart. He went to go see a priest, and he had "not one, but two breakdowns that take him to the hospital," the prosecutor said.
The case recalls a 2015 Arkansas murder investigation in which a woman was found dead in a backyard hot tub the morning after the man who lived there, Nate Bates, invited friends over to watch a football game. Bates was soon charged in her death and pleaded not guilty. Police found Alexa sitting on Bates’s kitchen counter.
Amazon initially resisted law enforcement's efforts to obtain the potential relevant recordings but ultimately relented after Bates gave permission for his Amazon Echo to be searched - but it didn't turn into the linchpin prosecutors hoped for: They dropped the charges against Bates in November 2017 after finding that the evidence, including the Echo recordings, supported more than one "reasonable explanation" for the victim's death.
If you have been charged with a crime where virtual assistant evidence may be used against you, you need an experienced defense attorney. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience. Please call him today for a free consultation.
Law Offices of Gary L Rohlwing
7112 N 55th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301
Saturday, January 26, 2019
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Being charged with a crime can feel like being transported to another world called Planet Defendant. Like all worlds, Planet Defendant has its own customs and procedures that one should learn. An important custom and procedure on Planet Defendant is called double jeopardy. The concept of double jeopardy is found in the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states “. . . nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” This is commonly called the “Double Jeopardy Clause.” The Arizona Constitution also has a double jeopardy clause found in Article 2, Section 10 which states that no person shall “be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense.” At its core, the Double Jeopardy Clause means that no one should ever be punished twice for his or her criminal conduct. The Double Jeopardy Clause tends to come up in three situations: retrial after a not guilty verdict, multiple criminal charges or counts based on a defendant’s single course of conduct, and defendant’s conduct constitutes a violation of two different criminal statutes. The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the State or government from either appealing a not guilty verdict or bringing the same criminal charge against an acquitted defendant in order to obtain a guilty verdict. For example, California and Florida could not bring new murder charges against O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony who were found not guilty of murder. The State or government could also charge a defendant with multiple criminal charges or counts based on his or her single, uninterrupted course of conduct. This situation can occur when multiple sex crimes are charged based on one sexual encounter or when there are multiple victims in a single encounter. The Supreme Court of Arizona recently held that Arizona’s resisting arrest statute, A.R.S. § 13-508, permits only one conviction regardless of the number of officers involved when a defendant resists an arrest in the course of a single, continuous event in State v. Jurden, 239 Ariz. 526 (2016). A violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause can occur when a person’s conduct constitutes a violation of two different criminal statutes. See State v. Jurden, 239 Ariz. 526 ¶ 10 (2016). This frequently comes up in the context of lesser-included offenses which are often charged along with greater-included offenses. For example, the Arizona Court of Appeals found that child molestation pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1410 was a lesser-included offense to the greater offense of sexual conduct with a minor pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1405 in State v. Ortega, 220 Ariz. 320 (App. 2008). Double Jeopardy Clause analysis is very complex. If you are charged with several crimes based on a single course of conduct, you need an experienced defense attorney to make sure that the State has not violated the Double Jeopardy Clause. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience. Call him today for a free consultation.
Law Offices of Gary L Rohlwing
7112 N 55th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301