November 10, 2018
Police May Have Found A Witness For New Hampshire Double Murder -- An Amazon Echo That Captured The Killing

Police in New Hampshire believe they have found a witness to a double murder that took place there in 2017 -- an Amazon Echo that was in the home at the time two women were slain.

In January of last year, 47-year-old Christine Sullivan and 32-year-old Jenna Pellegrini were killed in the small town of Farmington. As CBS Boston reported, police arrested 36-year-old Timothy Verrill on two counts of first-degree murder, and they are now seeking to use the recordings from an Amazon Echo that was in the home at the time they were killed.

This week, a New Hampshire judge directed Amazon to produce recordings from the Echo, which police claimed may have captured the moments that the murder took place and the aftermath, when the bodies were removed from the house.

"Investigators believe Sullivan was attacked in the kitchen of 979 Meaderboro Road where the Echo was located, and prosecutors believe there is probable cause to believe there is evidence on the Echo, such as audio recordings of the attack and events that followed it," said court documents.

The case has gained national attention not only for the unusual witness to the murder but also the implications it has for the future of technology. As Ars Technica reported, Amazon has said it would not give up data "without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us," and in the past has refused to share information where their technology could be used as evidence in murder cases.

In another case in Arkansas, Amazon pushed back against a search warrant for cloud-stored data from its Alexa Voice Service. As Ars Technica reported, Amazon claimed that the Bentonville Police Department was going on a "fishing expedition" seeking information that could be chilling to free speech and could hurt sales of Amazon products. The company also called on police to use other avenues to find the possible recordings.

"If the defendant had installed the Alexa App, and the cell phone could be accessed, then any stored audio recordings, transcripts of recordings, and records of responses from Alexa would be accessible on the cell phone," Amazon said in a court motion.

Police in New Hampshire believe the Amazon Echo in the home captured the murder of Christine Sullivan and the removal of her body, CBS Boston reported. Police found the bodies of the two women under the porch of the home with stab wounds and blunt force trauma.