FBI agrees to help unlock iPhone and iPod in Arkansas murder case

By midian182 · 34 replies
Mar 31, 2016
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  1. It’s only been a few days since the FBI revealed it no longer required Apple’s assistance in accessing the San Bernardino iPhone as it had found a way to unlock the device with the help of a “third party.” Now, the government agency has agreed to help an Arkansas prosecutor unlock an iPhone and iPad belonging to two teenagers accused of killing a couple.

    The request for help comes from Faulkner County prosecuting attorney Cody Hiland. The homicide case involves 18-year-old Hunter Drexler and 15-year-old Justin Staton, who stand accused of murdering Robert and Patricia Cogdell at their home in Conway, 30 miles north of Little Rock, last July. The presiding judge has now agreed to postpone the trial from next week to June 27 to give the FBI time to unlock the devices.

    Court records show that “a letter to Snapchat,” 10 pages of emails and over 100 pages of “Facebook records” have already been entered into evidence in the case, but prosecutors say Staton used the iPod to plan the murders, and there may be other evidence on the devices.

    Hiland confirmed that the FBI agreed to help less than a day after the request was made. "We always appreciate their cooperation and willingness to help their local law enforcement partners," Hiland said.

    Drexler’s attorney, Patrick Benca, said he was notified that the FBI would be unlocking his client’s phone, but claimed it contains no incriminating evidence. “We’re not concerned about anything on that phone,” he said.

    We still don’t know precisely how the FBI broke into Syed Farook’s iPhone, and whether it plans to use the same technique in this instance. The specifics of the devices in question, such as model and OS version, are also unknown, and the method used in the earlier case is unlikely to work on newer Apple models.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 1,580   +719

    For those bashing Apple, check this out... so now if there's even a hint that your phone has data pertinent to a trial, they'll be attempting to hack in.... Imagine if all they had to do was say "Apple, open sesame!".

    Wonder what happened to innocent before proven guilty...
    cliffordcooley and wastedkill like this.
  3. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 956   +515

    “We’re not concerned about anything on that phone,”
    Then unlock it for the court without having the FBI unlock it!

    As much as I don't like the idea of them just unlocking a phone, I don't like the idea of murderers getting off on a lighter sentence, because not all evidence could be collected, more.
    Tanstar and 9Nails like this.
  4. Greg S

    Greg S TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,074   +428

    Murder trials have far less restrictions for requesting data to be retrieved. It's pretty easy for warrants to be handed out. Honestly if you are accused of murder and there is pretty solid indication of guilt, unlocking phones and computers isn't a problem in my opinion.
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    I couldn't agree more.
  6. fl21289

    fl21289 TS Booster Posts: 60   +40

    As much as I agree he should get trialed for the murders etc. I'm not a fan of the government now having access to your locked devices... Nothing is save with this government anymore...
  7. Kyle9856

    Kyle9856 TS Rookie

    This is why I feel Apple should have done it in house and told the fbi to let them do it (and not show te government how to do it...)
  8. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    I believe Apple did offer to do that but the FBI said no.
  9. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,285   +243

    and what happened to any person who has not committed any crime has nothing to hide? ;)
    (I'm still for personal privacy concerns and just playing devil's advocate on this case.)
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  10. fl21289

    fl21289 TS Booster Posts: 60   +40

    No Apple said they weren't going to do it at all because they were protecting our privacy which I agreed with them.
  11. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,340   +1,437

    If I didn't commit any crimes why am I being treated like a criminal?
  12. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    Because that's how it works. If you're a prime suspect in a murder they keep you in jail prior to your trial that determines your guilt. They don't just tell killers to please come back for your trial, and please don't commit any other crimes in the meantime. And looking into your private life after you've been indicted isn't 'treating you like a criminal' it's due process. If they find nothing, then you're cleared, which is what every truly innocent person would want.

    This is exactly how 'innocent until proven guilty' works. They're gathering evidence for the trial that will determine if these dudes are guilty. Somehow both you and yraz think having your texts read is equal to being treated like a convicted felon.

    I still don't understand how searching your home/car/bank accounts with a warrant is acceptable in society, but reading texts off an iphone is some gross invasion of privacy that gets everyone all riled up.
    Tanstar likes this.
  13. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,046   +680

    No, they said no because they were worried about users privacy and the software falling in the wrong hands.
  14. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 1,580   +719

    Not just guilty people have "things to hide"... Let's say I'm being investigated for a crime I didn't commit... And my phone has texts that prove I'm cheating on my wife... Do I want the FBI knowing that??!? Not their business....

    However, if I'm investigated for a capital crime and they believe that my phone has important info that could save other lives - there should be a law forcing ME to unlock my phone.... No need for any hacks that could later get into the wrong hands...
    S Hone likes this.
  15. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,358   +2,006

    I really see no issue with the FBI searching the phone as long as they have obtained the appropriate Federal warrants to do so as is the case with wire taps, search & seizure, and similar laws. The presumption of innocence isn't taken away by gathering such evidence; that is precisely the purpose of a criminal investigation. The REAL issue is their attempt to force a company to create a product that allows the government to openly monitor your activities without your knowledge or the appropriate judges warrant(s).

    Unfortunately, with all of that being said, the government & legal system no longer operates under the presumption of innocence and now presumes you're guilt and puts it upon you to prove otherwise. As Blackstone once commented, a truly innocent man will find it difficult to prove their innocence since they had no reason to assume they were guilty of anything. Protections could be extended if our representatives passed a law that prevented snooping under any circumstances until a Federal (non-FISA court) judge signed off on an appropriate warrant that met the criteria, thus making the judge and the courts the gatekeepers, instead of the FBI.

    Lastly, If the Supreme Court would reverse their ruling making all prosecutors immune from prosecution and once again return to the practice that "no one is above the law" it would go a long way towards preventing malicious prosecution (often politically motivated) and further state that the prosecutor could be held to the same standard (level of punishment) as the alleged criminal; we wouldn't see so many innocent people prosecuted and so many out of control prosecutors attempting to improve their image for the next election!
    Darth Shiv and cliffordcooley like this.
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,739   +3,706

    Yes this.
  17. Stephen Rice

    Stephen Rice TS Member

    A law forcing you to unlock the phone could be considered to violate your 5th Amendment right to not incriminate yourself. Also 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  18. Scavengers

    Scavengers TS Booster Posts: 110   +21

    Nothing at all, and no laws of search and seizure have been broken by the Feds.
    Apple has already hindered an investigation. The Feds should be sending down arrest warrants if they can somehow prove that it would have been just as easy for Apple to get in the phone as it was for them.

  19. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,739   +3,706

    Here we go folks another person that doesn't believe in the need for having encryption. Not to mention the details that are conveniently left out to make a case against Apple. I hate Apple probably more than the next guy, but this is ridiculous.
    robb213 likes this.
  20. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    If they suspect you, "unreasonable search and seizure" is in question. Surely they have something to back up the suspicion? Hopefully something strong enough for a judge.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  21. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 1,580   +719

    I agree - and having your phone opened by someone else still violates that.... since I'm the only person "supposed" to have access to the device, if someone else "gets in", I'm incriminating myself - at least, I'd bet that's what a good lawyer would argue...

    Of course, any SMART criminal wouldn't leave incriminating evidence on their cell phone (or on any other accessible device)... it's amazing how dumb some crooks are though...
  22. Scavengers

    Scavengers TS Booster Posts: 110   +21

    That law applies to the owner\user of the phone. He's dead.
  23. S Hone

    S Hone TS Rookie

    Yes if the person who is accused is alive, then they should be required to unlock their own phone. Otherwise they should go to jail also for obstructing justice.
  24. jackal2687

    jackal2687 TS Enthusiast Posts: 85   +12

    Make sure if you are going to court and they want to use your phone as evidence. Make sure you set a pin or password. If you use your fingerprint, it is considered physical evidence and they can legally make you unlock your phone. Whereas if it's a pin or password, they don't have that right.
  25. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 1,580   +719

    Or just reboot the phone.... Then you can't use your fingerprint to unlock it...

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