eDiscovery Daily Blog

Time for Another Murder (Possibly) Witnessed by Alexa: eDiscovery Trends

It’s been a while since we covered a good murder case with Internet of Things (IoT) implications.  Here’s a new case in Florida where police have submitted a search warrant to Amazon for recordings from an Echo device in a household where a man was charged with killing his partner with a spear(!).

In People (After Fla. Woman Is Impaled by a Spear, Police Seek Clues From Amazon Alexa Recordings, written by KC Baker), the author reports that Florida police are trying to find out what – if anything – the voice-controlled Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers (commonly known as “Alexa”) heard on July 12 when a Hallandale Beach woman died during a fight with her boyfriend. The incident left her impaled by a spear and him charged with murder, the South Florida SunSentinel reports.

Silvia Galva, 32, and Adam Reechard Crespo, 43, who is reportedly either her boyfriend or husband, were allegedly fighting in their condo after a night out. Crespo told police he was trying to pull Galva off the bed when she grabbed a spear that snapped and pierced her chest as he continued to pull her up.  Crespo then told police he pulled the blade out of the victim’s chest, hoping it was “not too bad,” the Sun Sentinel reports.

The defendant’s actions, the police report goes on to say, “caused the victim to grab the spear to keep herself on the bed. The force used by the defendant to remove the victim cause the shaft to break and in an unknown way caused the blade to pierce the victim which caused the loss of life.”

Crespo was arrested and charged with murder without premeditation, the SunSentinel reports.

In August, Hallandale Beach Police obtained a search warrant for the recordings on two of the Amazon voice assistants that were in the apartment where Galva was killed, the Sun Sentinel reports.

The search warrant, later obtained by CBS Miami, says “It is believed that the evidence of crimes — audio recordings capturing the attack on victim Silvia Crespo…and any events that preceded or succeeded the attack — may be found on the server(s) maintained by or for Amazon.com for all recordings made by the aforementioned Echo smart speakers.”

Amazon turned over recordings to the authorities, who are analyzing the data, Hallandale Beach Police Department spokesman Sgt. Pedro Abut told the SunSentinel.

“It is believed that evidence of crimes, audio recordings capturing the attack on victim Silvia Crespo that occurred in the main bedroom … may be found on the server maintained by or for Amazon,” police wrote in their probable cause statement seeking the warrant, the SunSentinel reports.  Still, it’s unclear how much information the recordings will yield since the Echo supposedly only records when users utter the word “Alexa” or a “wake” word of their choice and don’t usually record entire conversations, according to an Amazon spokesperson.

Crespo’s attorney, Christopher O’Toole, told PEOPLE he feels the recordings can only bolster the case of his client, who he says is innocent.

We’ve certainly seen other murder cases that involve Amazon Echo recordings potentially having data, including this one and this one.  And, we’ve also seen murder cases involving other IoT devices as well, including these this one and this one involving Fitbit devices.  It’s tougher than ever to get away with murder these days!

So, what do you think?  Are you aware of any civil cases where IoT devices came into play?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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