Three Examples of Digital Evidence Changing a Case
Why is the field of digital forensics so important? The simple answer is Justice. Whether convicting a killer or freeing an innocent man, it is often digital forensics that turn the key to the jail cell. Here are three times that digital forensics changed a case.
Danny Kay, a resident of Derby, England, was freed after three years in prison on a rape conviction. The damning evidence was a string of FaceBook messages between Kay and the alleged victim. The conversation, as presented, made it appear Kay lied about his age and apologized for non consensual sexual relations. Years later, a family member stumbled across the archived message thread, which had been altered for trial. The actual conversation absolved Kay of any wrong doing. The right digital forensics expert would have saved Kay three years of his life and untold expenses.
Who searched for fool-proof suffocation methods on Casey Anthony's computer the day her daughter was last seen alive? Why was that evidence not presented at trial? The answer is lack of an expert digital forensics team. Anthony now claims the search was made by her suicidal father. Doubters are convinced Anthony was researching her tactics. Without a proper analysis, we can not know who performed the search, or what other activity occurred on the same device in the time surrounding the incident. Digital forensics can provide defensible evidence of who made the search, as well as when it was performed. In addition, when the search was discovered, one key factor stood out: the misspelling of the word "suffocation." This is a unique variable that could have potentially pointed the finger at who was sitting at the keyboard when that search was made.
Ryan Safka was sentenced to 2 1/2 years for vehicular homicide in Pennsylvania. There were no witnesses. He was the only survivor of the crash. No skid marks were present, and all the normal physical evidence to reconstruct the accident were missing. How was he convicted? Black Box data extraction. The data collected by the device prior to the accident showed a speed in excess of 100 MPH. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the conviction, recognizing digital forensics as a vital tool in evidence.
Using a qualified digital forensic expert is your ethical obligation when seeking substantial truth and justice for your client or victim.