The world of forensics has changed drastically over the last decade. Now, digital evidence is just as important as DNA and fingerprints. From investigators to legal professionals like this computer crimes defense attorney in Boulder, experts across multiple fields now rely on pieces of digital information to solve crimes and seek justice.
Most of the public remains unaware of just how large a part digital forensics plays in the modern justice system outside of readable messages and comments. However, enormous cases have been won thanks to due diligence in the digital realm. Here are some of the top cases this newer form of forensics has helped solve.
Matt Baker was convicted of killing his wife, Kari, back in 2010. He was sentenced to 65 years in prison. Kari was a schoolteacher in Texas at the time of her death in 2006, but regular forensics could only identify that she overdosed on sleeping pills. Investigators had initially thought it was a suicide thanks to a note left behind.
As it turns out, the husband had forged the note. Investigators were only able to discover this thanks to digital forensics after searching his computer. They also found online searches relating to overdosing on sleeping pills. Without thoroughly looking through the digital footprint he left behind, the truth may have never come to light.
It was eventually discovered that Ross Compton set fire to his own home in Middletown, Ohio with the goal of committing insurance fraud. He had told investigators at the time that he woke up to the fire, broke a bedroom window with a cane, and narrowly escaped.
Everything seemed to check out, but investigators noticed one glaring piece of evidence they could investigate. Compton’s health conditions required a pacemaker with an external pump. That pacemaker collected data on his heart rate, hear rhythms, and demand placed on the device to better monitor his health.
When investigators looked into that data, they found that his story was impossible. There was no increased demand on the device or heart rate, which would have been the case given Compton’s story. They also discovered that he forged medical documents on his pacemaker data to make the story more plausible. Digital forensics proved he committed arson, insurance fraud, and forgery.
Known as the “texting and suicide case,” digital forensics became the forefront of whether Michelle Carter was guilty of convincing her boyfriend Conrad Roy to kill himself. Through her phone records, investigators found texts and calls that instructed Roy to commit suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning.
She did not raise any alarm to Roy’s family, she never alerted the authorities, and there was no trace of care or concern for Roy’s life. Further investigation revealed a highly toxic and volatile relationship between the two. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017, sentenced to 2 1/2 years as she was a teenager at the time, highlighting the importance digital forensics plays in seeking justice.