Back in September 2012, University of Florida student Christian Aguilar went missing. At the end of that month, his roommate, now-20-year-old Pedro Bravo, was charged with the murder, although no body had been found. Weeks later, hunters found the decomposing body of the victim in a shallow grave roughly 60 miles from Gainesville.
In the trial that is expected to wrap-up today or tomorrow, the prosecution has received some key assistance from an unlikely (and perhaps unreliable) source: Siri, the helpful and often times sarcastic iPhone assistant.
As our Palm Beach and Broward County cirminal defense lawyers know, the increasing presence of technology in our everyday lives has implications far beyond those one might expect. This fact is being brought to light in the murder case of Pedro Bravo, given the fact that data recorded on his smartphone on the day his roommate went missing is being used against him in a court of law.
During the murder trial, the prosecution has provided members of the jury with some key pieces of evidence, many of which may come as a surprise, but all of which were undoubtedly intended to sway the jury into finding the defendant, Pedro Bravo, guilty of murder in the first-deree, the crime with which he’s been charged.
According to a local law enforcement officer who conducted a search of the defendant’s iPhone, a screenshot was found on the phone, depicting the line “I need to hide my roomate” being delivered to Siri. In response, as the screenshot showed, Siri listed places such as “swamps” and “reservoires” as possible locations. When this trial development was first reported, the public was made to believe that there was hard evidence that the defendant asked Siri where to hide the roommate’s body on the day of the roommate’s disappearance, when in fact such evidence does not exist.
We now know that all of this conjecture comes from the mere finding of a screenshot on the defendant’s phone! Most problematic in terms of the prosecution’s assertion is that Bravo’s iPhone, the 4th generation of the Apple smartphone, did/does not even have Siri capability! As we know must be the case, the photo was one downloaded from a website visited by Bravo’s phone. When considered in this light, the evidence provided by Siri is interesting at best, and irrelevant, harmful and illegitimate at worst.
In addition to the question-answer exchange between someone and Siri, the prosecution is also using evidence from the cell phone showing that Bravo used a flashlight 8-9 times during the night in question, in GPS-tracked locations far from where he stated that he was on the night of the alleged kidnapping and murder. Again, people frequently use the flashlight app on the iPhone, both during the day and at night. Moreover, just because the GPS tracking indicated that the iPhone was in a remote location at a given time doesn’t mean that Andres himself was there; after all, the GPS tracking doesn’t pinpoint the location of a human being, just that of their cell phone (which could have been stolen).
From experience, our Palm Beach and Browad County criminal defense lawyers know that technology can be unreliable in criminal cases, and minds should not be made up over the fate of an individual simply given circumstancial evidence such as cell phone data. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, contact our criminal defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert to schedule a free consultation by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to assisting you.