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.