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More Tales From the Annals of Online Evidence

By now, we should all know well the lesson that what we do online can come back to haunt us -- or maybe help us -- as evidence in court. But new stories continue to come along of the things people do online and of how they get used in court. Here are three recent stories from the annals of online evidence.

First up is a story of how a man's Facebook page got him not into trouble but out of it. As the New York Times reports, Rodney Bradford's cryptic Facebook status update on Oct. 17 at 11:49 a.m. -- asking where his pancakes were -- became his alibi when he was arrested the next day for a robbery that took place at the same time as the update. Bradford's sharp-thinking defense lawyer, Robert Reuland, told a Brooklyn assistant district attorney about it. The DA subpoenaed Facebook and verified that the words had been typed from a computer located in Bradford's father's house in Manhattan, some distance from the robbery. The charges were dropped. "This is the first case that I'm award of in which a Facebook update has been used as alibi evidence," Dallas lawyer John G. Browning told the Times.

Facebook was Bradford's alibi; YouTube could be Jacob Rehm's downfall. According to WCAX TV in Vermont, Rehm is alleged to have stolen a $500,000 tour bus from a transportation company where he once worked and taken it on a joy ride through central Vermont. Apparently, the joy ride was only half the fun for Rehm. He is alleged to have also produced a four-minute video of his adventure and posted it to YouTube. It features shots of the bus and of him driving, all to the music of Yes. The video will be part of the evidence against him when he appears tomorrow in a Vermont district court.

For David Roberts, the evidence of his crime came from a supposed 14-year-old schoolgirl who turned out to be his own wife. Cheryl Roberts, 61, suspected her husband, 68, was accessing chatrooms to lure girls into sex, according to a report in the Telegraph. So while he was on his computer in one room, she went online in another room and, posing as a 14-year-old, initiated a chat with her husband. When he attempted to lure her into meeting for sex, she was shocked. But rather than confront him, she went straight to the police, who seized his computer and found dozens of images on it of child porn. It was only several weeks later that the man learned he had been turned in by his own wife.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 16, 2009 at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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