NH judge orders Amazon to give Echo recordings in murder case

An Amazon Echo device could play a role in a double-homicide case in Farmington.

A judge has ordered Amazon to turn over recordings that might have been captured by an Echo smart speaker in the Farmington house where two women were stabbed to death in January 2017.

Timothy Verrill of Dover is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of Jenna Pellegrini, 32, and Christine Sullivan, 48. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said they believe the Echo device, which listens for Alexa voice commands, might have recorded audio of Sullivan's death, as well as anything that happened before or after it.

State police have the speaker, and the judge agreed to let them access the recordings and ordered Amazon to turn over any recordings on its servers.

Experts said the case reveals some of the implications of having such devices in people's homes.

"I think most people probably don't even realize that Alexa is taking account of what's going on in your house, in addition to responding to your demands and commands," said Albert Scherr, a professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

Amazon officials said the company won't release any information until a valid legal demand has been properly served.

Read more at https://www.wmur.com/article/nh-judge-orders-amazon-to-give-echo-recordi...


We've all heard that this device (and others like it) only listen for the "wake word".

This is either true, or false.

It will be interesting to find out what the actual answer is, that is, from a court order to provide the audio. And that is another interesting dillema: what will Amazon provide -- to the letter of the law, or the spirit of the law, both, neither, or some combination of all?

If a computer specialist is performing a forensic investigation of a piece of computer hardware, not only will the usual file storage areas be inspected, but also there will be deleted files, old backups, and much else to be inspected, even whether or not encrypted or 'hashed'.

Will Amazon reply with "this is everything we have ever recorded on that device" or will it be "this is everything that we saved from that device"? Perhaps it is "we do not normally save ambient audio" and return nothing to the court?

It will be interesting to see.