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Don't Google "How To Commit Murder" Before Killing

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the gods-themselves-contend-in-vain dept.

Google 387

An anonymous reader alerts us to a murder trial in New Jersey in which Google and MSN searches were used against a woman accused of killing her husband. In the days before the murder, prosecutors say the defendant searched for "How To Commit Murder," "instant poisons," "undetectable poisons," "fatal digoxin doses," and gun laws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Her husband was killed with a gun procured in Pennsylvania. The crime occurred in 2004; of course, people now know to be careful about their searches.

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387 comments

Huh? (1, Interesting)

Lenneth-chan (926055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362503)

IANAL, so could someone explain to me how the heck something like this could be admitted as evidence?

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362579)

Not much different from admitting evidence suggesting an alleged had checked out a book on poisons from the library when the stand accused of a poisoning death.

What I want to know is whether researching the search histories of the accused is the status quo.

Re:Huh? (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362849)

I can't get to the link for TFA....how did they find SHE did these searches? Was it just data still on her own home computer, or was this information somehow attained FROM Google and MSM that tied her searches there to her?

The latter is much scarier IMHO. I don't want anyone to commit murder and get away with it, but, I didn't realize that Google searches could be traced from their systems backwards to you.

Re:Huh? (1, Troll)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362929)

I didn't realize that Google searches could be traced from their systems backwards to you.
Really, I guess you've not heard of these "EyePee" addresses which I'm told are recorded by the search engine when you use it?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18363221)

Surely you've heard of DHCP?

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363241)

EyePee addresses are traceable only to whatever you have that terminates them, such as a wireless cable/router, or at worst, your computer. They are not stamped inside your head or buried in an RFID in your skin such that they necessarily place your hands on a keyboard/mouse such that you're necessarily engaged with whatever activity was occurring on that link.

In all probability they asked her if she was using her computer at such and such time, and she said yes, allowing it into court. That they managed to get the logs from Google is another matter entirely, but I suspect Google had no choice.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18363013)

The article says they got it from seized computers, presumably from the browser history or saved form field data.

Re:Huh? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18363047)

wel let me say to you how the internets wurks here . you see the tubez are fillled up with dese numbas that uniqueley identify your PeeCee to the rest of the internstz . if ta machinez you connect to log dis infoz, they can probbbbably track it back to uz. .lollzerz.

Seriously, if the parent post isn't indicative of the vast decline of /., nothing is.

Re:Huh? (4, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363067)

I read TFA. It states that a forensic analyist went through at least one of eight computers that the defendant is suspected of using. The one in question is from her home, if I recall. If the report is accurate (probably close enough) and complete (who knows), neither her ISP nor Google were involved in determining what the person using that computer was searching for.

Re:Huh? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363187)

I can't get to the link for TFA....how did they find SHE did these searches?


From several computers that McGuire had access to. A few relevant bits from TFA:

Jennifer Seymour, who worked for the State Police digital technology unit, testified thismorning how she examined the digital contents of computers and hand held devices obtained as part of the investigation.
.
.
.
Seymour, now employed by the U.S. Department of Defense, testified how digital investigators can trace activity on a computer, including information the user has deleted.

She testified that she isolated data that was accessed in the weeks leading up to the murder, by inserting the keyword "search," which showed activity by Google and MSN search engines, with the searches center-ing on poisons and gun laws.
.
.
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Seymour said that on Sept. 8, 2005, the State Police obtained eight computers, three laptops and eight hand-held devices as part of the murder investigation.

In her testimony today, she said she examined the contents of a computer obtained at the office of McGuire's attorney, though she did not identify the name of the attorney. She also said she tested a home computer used by the Woodbridge couple, and a home computer used by her parents, who now live in Barnegat.

Re:Huh? (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363267)



keep in mind any evidence submitted can be refuted by the defendants lawyer. So it would be within his best interest to find an 'expert' who could say something like 'she had an open wifi terminal, or my daughter was doing an essay.' I dont know the details of the trial but I'm sure the evidence was supporting.

Re:Huh? (1)

tomknight (190939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362963)

"What I want to know is whether researching the search histories of the accused is the status quo."

Worried about something?

Re:Huh? (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362605)

Not on it's own. Combined with other evidence, it might show intent.

Re:Huh? (1)

boaworm (180781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363019)

If you would have read the article, you would have found

Jennifer Seymour, who worked for the State Police digital technology unit, testified thismorning how she examined the digital contents of computers and hand held devices obtained as part of the investigation.

Her testimony was the strongest evidence yet in the state's circumstantial evidence case against the 34-year-old McGuire, who allegedly murdered her husband with a .38 caliber weapon, dismembered his body and placed body parts in three suitcases found in the Chesapeake Bay in May of 2004.
That's not a strong case I'd say.. but IANAL (as this seems to be the acronym of this post)

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362627)

IANAL, but this would support premeditation -- not necessarily that she COMMITTED the murder. This type of evidence could go a long way in changing a murder 2 case in to a murder 1 case.

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362997)

As a regular watcher of "Law and Order" and "CSI: Miami", I can assure you that the law does not work that way.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

Eccles (932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362657)

Why do you think it would not be admissable?

Anything can be forged or faulty, be it pics, documents, or server logs, the possibility that it could be faked is not by itself grounds for inadmissibility.

While it might be hearsay, it would be a statement against interest, which is one of the hearsay exceptions.

IANAL, although my wife is, and I helped her study a little.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18362715)

It shows her present state of mind at the time, and people usually do what they say they plan to do.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

sjwaste (780063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362795)

If I was defense, I would argue that it's overly prejudicial when balanced with its probative value, but without more of the facts, I really can't expand on that. I think that's a better shot than hearsay. I don't think its hearsay at all (not really an out of court statement meant as an assertion by a party other than the accused). If it is, though, that's why FRE 807's there, this would probably fall into the residual exception.

Re:Huh? (3, Informative)

sjwaste (780063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362673)

IANAL, so could someone explain to me how the heck something like this could be admitted as evidence?

IAALS, so this might not be entirely the best answer, but it seems to me the hardest thing will be authenticating the data. Barring a first party admission (who the hell would admit to this?), Google would have to authenticate the search terms, the IP would have to be authenticated as that of the defendant's at that time. So you'd have to subpoena the records from Google, authenticate them, and in they come.

But remember, admitting something as evidence doesn't mean it's not rebuttable. You can bring in an expert to talk about how its cloudy that the IP was hers, etc. In the end, the finder of fact (the jury) determines whether or not its credible. The rules of evidence only keep out the stuff that's really irrelevant, overly prejudicial, hearsay, etc.

Now maybe a real lawyer will correct me if I'm missing something.

Yeah--No Kidding! (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362717)

IANAL, so could someone explain to me how the heck something like this could be admitted as evidence?
I'm not a lawyer either but if I were in her shoes, I would simply claim I was working on writing my first novel--a murder mystery. I had to do some research and, hence, the searches.

Someone happened to murder my husband in a similar fashion (he was a very detestable man, everyone hated him and as a result I suffered at home). There's your shadow of a doubt.

But, oddly enough, I've seen what the courts allow the RIAA & MPAA to submit as evidence (server logs with IP addresses) to prosecute people and, at least in those cases, that's all the evidence they need! Considering this, am I shocked that a legally requisitioned computer can be submitted & used as evidence? Not really--though I should be. It's a shame what the "Justice System" is becoming these days.

I guess I could stretch this and look for people who search for "to build a fire" and charge them with all unsolved arsons in their area. Boy scouts & Jack London fans beware!

Re:Yeah--No Kidding! (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362857)

sounds like it would make a great movie!
http://imdb.com/title/tt0103772/ [imdb.com]
John Correli: Did you kill Mr Boz, Miss Tramell?
Catherine: I'd have to be pretty stupid to write a book about killing and then kill him the way I described in my book. I'd be announcing myself as the killer. I'm not stupid.

Nick: Writing a book about it gives you an alibi for not killing him.
Catherine: Yes it does, doesn't it?

Re:Yeah--No Kidding! (4, Informative)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362943)

But, oddly enough, I've seen what the courts allow the RIAA & MPAA to submit as evidence (server logs with IP addresses) to prosecute people and, at least in those cases, that's all the evidence they need!
Okay, to explain what has probably been said on slashdot a million times already, the burden of proof in a CIVIL case, like the suits by the RIAA and the MPAA, is considerably lower then the burden of proof in a CRIMINAL case. Now, I cannot recall a case yet, where the RIAA or MPAA have actually won in court. Most of them, as I recall, are settled out of court for considerably less, or the RIAA drops the suit when someone fights back hard enough and starts poking holes in their flaky evidence.

Considering this, am I shocked that a legally requisitioned computer can be submitted & used as evidence? Not really--though I should be. It's a shame what the "Justice System" is becoming these days.
Why should you be shocked? If you commit a crime and are charged with said crime, why shouldn't a legally obtained warrant allow a jurisdiction to seize your computer and review it for potential evidence? If anything, the courts would be keeping up in that regard, instead of keeping notes or writing messages on paper, criminal might be keeping track of information on their personal computer. In this particular case, they obviously determined that she was searching the internet and found out WHAT she was supposedly searching for. It might not convict her by itself, but it would show a level of pre-meditation, if the jury sees it that way.

I guess I could stretch this and look for people who search for "to build a fire" and charge them with all unsolved arsons in their area. Boy scouts & Jack London fans beware!
You have no probable cause. This sort of blanket searching would never fly in most courts and might only be allowed under convoluted items in the PATRIOT ACT. You would first have to suspect the individual of arson, have sufficient evidence to get a court issued warrant, find enough evidence on the PC to get a subpoena for the information from Google, and subsequently add evidence to the case. I am willing to bet this wasn't the beginning of their case.

RIAA (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363017)

They have won a few cases either through default or misrepresentation. AFAIK they have never had to subject their 'proof' to a jury or even cross examination.

Re:Yeah--No Kidding! (1)

Communomancer (8024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363171)

But, oddly enough, I've seen what the courts allow the RIAA & MPAA to submit as evidence (server logs with IP addresses) to prosecute people and, at least in those cases, that's all the evidence they need!

Okay, to explain what has probably been said on slashdot a million times already, the burden of proof in a CIVIL case, like the suits by the RIAA and the MPAA, is considerably lower then the burden of proof in a CRIMINAL case.


Grandparent wasn't asking about burden of proof. He was asking about admissibility of evidence. Are the standards for admissibility of evidence lower in civil court than they are in criminal court? I don't know, personally, but I'd be interested the answer. Any lawyers reading this?

Re:Yeah--No Kidding! (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363285)

Why should you be shocked? If you commit a crime and are charged with said crime, why shouldn't a legally obtained warrant allow a jurisdiction to seize your computer and review it for potential evidence?

Because a computer is a substantially valuable and useful piece of property. Unless the police can convince the warrant judge that it actually has evidence, they can't take it.

Otherwise, they'd simply sieze your car and house to review for "potential evidence." Enjoy staying at a homeless shelter for the next few months while your case chugs along.

Re:Huh? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362781)

Are you talking about attorney-client privilege? It doesn't make it o.k. for a lawyer to be party to a crime. It isn't real clear if the computer was her lawyers or not, but if she used her lawyers gun to shoot someone, it wouldn't make the gun inadmissible.

Re:Huh? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363059)

It obviously doesn't prove she comitted the murder - but if you establish that she did indeed commit the murder, this goes a long way to show that it was premeditated (murder in the first degree), rather than an emotional act commited in the heat of passion (manslaughter).

If you want to kill somebody, or hate somebody so intensely, never let anyone know. Never say "I'd love to strangle that sunmabitch", even if its blowing off steam. Say you did kill that guy, in self defense, or by accident... You've already showed evidence of premeditation.

Re:Huh? (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363149)

IANAL, but it probably goes toward reasonable doubt to the motives of the suspect.

In any case, go ahead and Google that phrase, but wait 24 months so Google can anonymize your search...per their new policy.

Will googling for "ReiserFS" make me a suspect? (5, Funny)

Tillmann (859300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362507)

Hi,

if my wife gets murdered, will it make me a suspect if I've googled for "ReiserFS"?

bye,
Till

Re:Will googling for "ReiserFS" make me a suspect? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18362891)

Yes. Because ReiserFS puts the "stab" is "fstab". It truly is a killer filesystem.

Re:Will googling for "ReiserFS" make me a suspect? (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363097)

Some mod didn't get your joke.

I don't think most people know their searches are so easily identified. I routinely get searches that hit on my site where people are looking for "15 year old vagina", or something along those lines. I'd bet it isn't other 15 year olds searching in most cases.

One solution. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18362519)

Use DSL [damnsmalllinux.org] .

Use boot: dsl toram

Power off system when done.

Google fulfilling prophecy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18362523)

I just googled "How to make more money doing less work."

Here's hoping.

Re:Google fulfilling prophecy... (2, Funny)

Skidge (316075) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362695)

Now your employer will use that against you in your next performance review. :)

don't read books on homocide investigations either (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18362533)

because that can seriously screw up a really nice file system!

ARG! (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362539)

I'm lost on this one, First google is doing one thing, then another?!
!?

To Be Evil or Not To Be Evil? That is the question (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362853)

I don't know: is turning these logs over to prosecute someone "evil"? Is it "evil" if that person is a music downloader? Is it "not evil" if that person is accused of murder?

Or does Google just get off by simply saying, "Well, they had a warrant, so it's not our evil?"

Source (3, Interesting)

MattSparkes (950531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362541)

I hope they found this in the auto-finish feature, and not from Google?

Re:Source (2, Informative)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362653)

TFA mentions that computers were seized from the defendant and not Google or MSN (the other search engine mentioned). So no, this wasn't a case of google keeping records, but the defendants computer.

Maybe the title should read: "If Google'ing 'how to commit murder' before killing, throw harddrives into volcano".

But you *can* Google it... (1)

h890231398021 (948231) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362575)

Just not from a PC traceable to you. Use a library in a far-away town. Change your MAC address and use an open wireless net. Use an anon proxy. Use Tor. This situation is no different from, for example, Googling about a serious health condition you'd prefer your insurance company not know you have just yet, and many similar cases.

Re:But you *can* Google it... (1)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362693)

I think you've got it wrong. They didn't examine google's logs, they looked at the defendants computer. Clear your history? Yes. Change your MAC address? That won't help.

Re:But you *can* Google it... (1, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362777)

Change your MAC address and use an open wireless net. Use an anon proxy. Use Tor.

None of those things will remove the evidence from the PC you used (using the library's computer will, though, assuming the library doesn't keep records). What you actually need is Tor and full-disk encryption (or shred(1), or thermite...).

Re:But you *can* Google it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18363193)

No need for disk encryption or shred. Just use knoppix on a ramdisk.

Re:But you *can* Google it... (0, Offtopic)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362917)

Of course, there are laws telling the insurance companies they can't do this, so instead of healthy people being able to independently get really cheap insurance or a well funded single payer system, we have communal health cost sharing programs that are expensive for healthy people to get into and impossible to get into for those with the mark of sickness.

Ludicrous (1)

loafing_oaf (1054200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362589)

So this means I can no longer use the Internet to shop for ether, rope, and shovels?

Re:Ludicrous (4, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362713)

Sure you can. But you might be in trouble when your ex-wife is found tied up in a grave with an ether smell coming from the box.

Alternative (5, Insightful)

petabyte (238821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362607)

Or alternatively, don't kill anyone?

Somehow that seems simpler to me.

Re:Alternative (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18362753)

why doesn't it surprise me that a total fucktard like you can't seem to get the jest of the whole matter? i guess when you're a moron that's just the way it is.

Re:Alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18363213)

Or alternatively, don't kill anyone?
Let's say you didn't kill your wife but your computer happened to have those search words in its history because a month ago your kid was randomly searching violent words. So the cops see your wife is dead and violent words in your search history and pin it on you...while the real killer is the psychotic neighbor.

Cost of murder (3, Funny)

MattSparkes (950531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362615)

It says she bought the prescription at Walgreens, it would have been much cheaper if she had bought them elsewhere [freakonomics.com] . She got caught, and she didn't get the best deal, what a fool.

Heh (3, Insightful)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362637)

I often search for things on wikipedia and google just out of personal interest and curiosity. Every time I search for something related to weaponry or toxic substances etc. I can't help but think to myself "will this ever come back to haunt me?"

For example, the other night I was watching an action movie and it got me curious about exactly what plastic explosives are and how they work. You see them in movies all the time and there's obviously a lot of misinformation and hollywood make-believe at hand so I wanted to find out the real story. I wiki'd for it and had an interesting read.

Now the next time I go to cross the Canada/US border (I live on a border town) I half expect customs to detain me and bring up those searches :\

Re:Heh (2, Funny)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362843)

I often search for things on wikipedia and google just out of personal interest and curiosity. Every time I search for something related to weaponry or toxic substances etc. I can't help but think to myself "will this ever come back to haunt me?"

No kidding -- I just googled "man shred" (as in, looking up the man page for the "shred" secure deletion program) while replying to another post in this thread. I'd be screwed if somebody accused me of murdering somebody with a wood chipper!

Or, just clear your history (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362649)

Note that the police and prosecutors apparently didn't need to subpoena Microsoft or Google for search records, but rather recovered the search URLs from the browser history.

Re:Or, just clear your history (1)

gemtech (645045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362775)

That was my first though: clear your browser history. and cookies, and RECENT. Anyone that surfs for porn knows how to do this, just in case someone else using the computer gets nosy.
I just bought a Vista notebook computer, that is one of the nicer features: there's a single button that you can push (once you find it) that clears out everything.

Re:Or, just clear your history (2, Informative)

Shabbs (11692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363025)

Indeed!

In Firefox: Go to Tools --> Options --> Privacy Tab: And enable "Always clear my private data when I close Firefox".

As Ron Popeil says: "Just set it... AND FORGET IT!!!"

Cheers.

at least log out of your google account (1)

cpm80 (899906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362663)

Last I checked google doesn't require users to log in to perform a search. Given this there's no way or google to track your searches, except recording your IP address, if you're not logged in. This combined with the something like the tor network would give reasonable security. Of course that still leaves your local machine to tell on you, I recommend bcwipe.

Re:at least log out of your google account (2, Informative)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362847)

Given this there's no way or google to track your searches, except recording your IP address, if you're not logged in
That's not true. There's the Google UID - a cookie that the search giant gives you and uses to trace every search you make. Your IP address is largely irrelevant; they have a method of chasing you, not just the NAT device from behind which you searched. The Only on-topic piece of your post was this:

Of course that still leaves your local machine to tell on you...

Re:at least log out of your google account (1)

CoolCat (594452) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362915)

Remember the cookie that lasts til 2038.. Every user has a unique id with google logged in or not.

hmm. (1)

overeduc8ed (799654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362667)

yes, generally one must be very careful if one would like to get away with murder. e.g., make sure the gloves don't fit.

Correction: Don't Google X 2 Years Before Killing (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362679)

HEADLINE CORRECTION: "Don't Google 'How To Commit Murder' Less Than Two Years Before Killing"

See:
Google to Anonymize Users' Search Data (Maybe, After 2 Years or So)
http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/07/03/15/0343250.shtml [slashdot.org]

Re:Correction: Don't Google X 2 Years Before Killi (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362765)

As others have said, it wasn't Google itself that lead to the evidence, it was her computer. Or, at least that's what I've gathered.

Ten Other Subjects Not to Google For (4, Funny)

Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362697)

  1. "Steve Ballmer" + Zune + squirt + Naked
  2. Walrus Porn
  3. enriched uranium for sale
  4. "girl" + "myspace" + "16 and under" + "sex" + "I am not an FBI agent"
  5. Latex frog fetish
  6. "How can I keep the feds from discovering my vast marijuana growing operation?"
  7. "genital warts" + "cures" + "sandpaper"
  8. "nitroglycerin" + "subway schedule" + "best escape routes"
  9. anthrax + "crop dusting license"
  10. "Cowboy Neal in Bondage"
- Crow T. Trollbot

Her last search .... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18362701)

should have been 'Just Kidding'

google from other accounts or computers (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362709)

Google often tracks by logins and IP addresses. So create a alternative login and use a library or cafe computer to do your nasty seraches instead of at home or work. Sometimes that doesnt even work because many libraries require a library card to log in and cafes in Italy record ID card or passport numbers. At least its another level of indirection to throw off detectives.

And thats it?.... (1)

FinnMcGee (1073732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362737)

It seems they took this as an open and shut case... Seems to convenient, maybe they should look into it a bit more than "the computer you use has had this "searched" on it". but then again. im just a simpleton. what would i know of the crazy world of law( and CoughCommonSenseCough ). -One Eye

Before the "OMG! Google is the evilzor" begin (5, Interesting)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362757)

All the information used against that woman was obtained by the computer forensic team after they seized her computer using the right procedure, obtaining a warrant first, and keeping the whole chain of evidence rules.

You guys need to remember that only because it is digital it doesn't mean it is less relevant or admissible. Had she asked a doctor what is the lethal dose of a certain substance, or what are the less detectable poisons, or similar suspicious questions like those, this doctor would certainly be called as a prosecution witness, and his deposition would certainly be admissible and relevant. Why then the same pursuit of knowledge would not be admissible or relevant? Because it is not a real doctor that got asked, but the internet?

Notice that I'm not saying that it is sufficient evidence to nail her, as IANAL and I don't know the details of the case. But at least admissible and relevant it is.

The fear is., (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363137)

whether justified or not I'll leave for the tinfoil hat people to debate, that instead of a suspect becoming more suspect if they googled for e.g. "how to commit murder" after a murder was indeed committed and they were a suspect, the very act of "how to commit murder" MAKES one a suspect.

E.g. like this poster, wondering if googling about explosives will get him some extra attention at the border : http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=226677&cid=183 62637 [slashdot.org]

Re:Before the "OMG! Google is the evilzor" begin (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363173)

You guys need to remember that only because it is digital it doesn't mean it is less relevant or admissible.

Just a whole lot easier to alter after the fact.

The funnest google search term that led visitors.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18362841)

...to my website was "how to kidnap fat people". I don't know what's creepier: that anybody was searching for this kind of shit, or that they ended up at my site...

ask jeeves instead (4, Funny)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362861)

i know he can keep a secret. he helped me out that time i woke up in a strange hotel room in denver next to a dead hooker.

as luck would have it, getting rid of dead hookers is a common problem and there are many useful articles on wikihow. i can tell you from experience that your company's helpdesk is NOT very cooperative in a situation like that.

Pro-tip for murdering (4, Funny)

SydBarrett (65592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18362921)

Before you shoot someone, do a bunch of searches for "poisons". That way the cops will expect you to poison someone and when they find the body they will be all like "Welp, he wasn't poisoned, so I guess you didn't do it".

Set up a frame (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363033)

Hmmmm, so if I wanted to frame somebody, part of the procedure would be to access their computer and do a bunch of google searches on "hiding evidence", "untraceable poison" and various others...

While the likelyhood that somebody does such is low, it's certainly not impossible.

Just a question (5, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363051)

Just one question here: If the RIAA can't prove who was using a computer for filesharing, how can someone prove who was using the computer for Google searching? Even if you have the computer and the searches still on it, does that say who was at the keyboard? Consider, maybe the husband was researching how to kill his wife, she found out, and got him first.

Re:Just a question (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363181)

The logs were on her computer, from what I understand, and not subpoena from google.

It could be established through other witnesses and testimony that the computer is hers, and that others dont use it.

The fact that theres a password on it (and its to be assumed the password is known to her), goes a long way to show that fact.

By your logic, nobody would ever be convicted of child porn, because they could say "waht if someone came in in the middle of the night and downloaded all of that... " Fortunately, the standard is "reasonable doubt", and not "remotely possible under the current understanding of quantum physics".

Pshh. New Jersey... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18363089)

...you think they'd learn to clear the cookies on their C64s by now out there.

How to avoid having your PC used as evidence (4, Informative)

karmatic (776420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363229)

Well, having had my computer taken by the cops as "evidence", I've learned several important lessons:

1) The cops have _no_ sense of humor. Thanks to Fark [fark.com] , I had This [landoverbaptist.org] , and This [theonion.com] in my cache. Apparently, I'm now into terrorism and child trafficing.
 
2) EFS doesn't help. Microsoft's Encrypting File System doesn't encrypt anything that can't be broken in seconds with the password (and usually minutes/hours without).
 
So, especially for farkers, get TrueCrypt [truecrypt.org] . It's free, and open-source. Then, get TCTEMP [truecrypt.org] . It makes it so your temporary files encrypted with a random key. Restart, and they all go "poof". Then get TCGina [truecrypt.org] . You get to encrypt your home directory (and history, documents, etc.) - it automatically mounts it when you login.
 
Use AES/SHA-1 as your encryption scheme, and pick a good password. If you're _really_ paranoid, grab Shred Agent (wipes files you delete automatically), and Distrust (a firefox addon that automatically deletes your history and cache for you). Nobody is _ever_ going to be recovering your data (even you, if you forget your password).

If you are looking for a quick, easy, fool-proof way to wipe your hard drive so _nobody_ will _ever_ recover _anything_ from it, make yourself a DBAN [sourceforge.net] disk. Easy to use, and it gets the job done right.

Reiser's book evidence... (1)

mutterc (828335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18363243)

Remember that one of the pieces of circumstantial evidence against Hans Reiser was that he had gotten books on homicide investigations? This isn't any philosophically different.

Of course, the searches are probably more damning (but still circumstantial). I can see where an innocent person who is the target of a homicide investigation might want to read up on the process, to make sure they don't make fatal missteps.

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