Boston, Mass. ( Associated Press) – Massachusetts prosecutors are basing their murder case against a man whose wife is presumed dead but whose body has not been found largely on a series of grueling Internet searches that lead to her death. was done at the time of his disappearance.
Examining data from personal electronic devices is a common tactic in criminal cases, but experts caution that incriminating findings are not enough to make a strong case.
Jennifer Lynch, director of Litigation Watch at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based NGO that advocates for digital civil liberties, said, “Trying to base a criminal investigation on what someone has discovered on the Internet would be very difficult. ” ,
Brian Walshe explores ways to decompose and dispose of a body, such as “How Long Does It Take for a Body to Smell”, “The Best Decomposing Tool I’ve Seen”, and “10 Ways to Dispose of a Dead Body” When Walshe was charged on 18 January in connection with Walshe’s alleged death, a prosecutor said, “You really have to”.
A plea of not guilty was entered on behalf of Brian Walshe.
According to reports, Anna Walshe, a mother of three, was last seen leaving the family home in Cohasset, south of Boston, on the morning of January 1. Authorities said he was on his way to the airport to board a flight to Washington, where he worked for a real estate agency. His owner had lodged a missing report on January 4.
In Walshe’s case, the defense is likely to bring in its own expert to attack the credibility of the discovery evidence at trial, which could take years, said Rachel Fiset, a Los Angeles-based defense attorney.
But it may be impossible to refute the totality of the evidence.
Fiset said, “I have a hard time seeing how Brian Walshe would plead his case, beyond the fact that there is no body” unless he was claiming self-defense or insanity. “These discoveries are very bad, very harmful.”
Lynch warned against searches essentially infringing on free speech. He added that searching for something potentially illegal online is not evidence of intent to commit a crime.
“We all have to worry about the police having access to our search queries because they reveal a lot of personal information about us,” Lynch said. “Many of our search queries are just idle curiosity.”
Google did not respond to an emailed request for comment. The technology company often publishes transparency reports where it discloses the number of requests from governments to obtain user information and the number of accounts subject to those requests.
For the six-month period from July to December 2021, the most recent data for which is available, Google received nearly 47,000 requests for information in the United States, and 84% of cases generated some data.