Posts Tagged ‘Missouri’
Back in August of 2010 I did a series of articles on a young man named David Riley. You can reference these articles easy enough just by going to the tag cloud on the right hand side of the screen and clicking the name “David Riley” or just by clicking this link: David Riley. David Riley is a young man that went to a store one night to buy some beer, after he had already been drinking, he purchased his beer and he walked out to his car with his designated driver. On the way to his car he kicked a bottle across the parking lot, and drew the attention of what he would soon discover would be an undercover Police Officer. David Riley said some things to the Police Officer that were not very nice, and in return the Police Officer drew his firearm and proceeded to beat David Riley senseless, along with a few other Police Officers that responded to the undercover Police Officer’s calls for back up; all in full view of the store video camera. David Riley was then taken to the hospital where he was verbally humiliated by security staff and the Police. David Riley was then taken from the hospital to the jail after he received medical care, and charged with resisting arrest and some other “cover my ass charges” by the Police. David Riley then bonded out of jail, in horrible physical condition from the beating that he had just suffered. From there this incident basically ruined his life. He was coerced by a Prosecutor (actually I’d personally call it blackmailed by a Prosecutor) to plea to his charges and accept a conviction. He suffered some mental health issues, which in turn caused him to lose his auto dealership and his family. All and all, it was a fine years work of ruining a man’s life by the CPD and the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office; so that the CPD could keep it’s butt covered and looking like they’d never do anything improper.
When this incident first occurred, I got the call from the Defense Attorney the next day to start an investigation on this case. I knew where to start, at the scene of the incident. RMRI, Inc. wrote up a Notice To Preserve Documents and served it on the store that this incident took place at; and RMRI, Inc. actually received a copy of the video tape before the CPD did. RMRI, Inc. measured out the place where the incident occurred, how far the undercover Police Officer was from David Riley when the verbal exchange took place. RMRI, Inc. interviewed all of the store clerks that were working that night. RMRI, Inc. also requested any property that was taken from David Riley by the CPD the night of the arrest, on behalf of David Riley. Interesting enough the CPD returned a pocket knife that David Riley was carrying that night. Interesting because the CPD tried to claim that David Riley was trying to rob the undercover Police Officer; wouldn’t they have kept the knife as evidence if this had really occurred? As I conducted this investigation it became apparent to me that David Riley was a victim of Police Brutality. But let’s be fair and forthright here; David Riley was no angel. David Riley had some very serious criminal convictions in his background, be probably used alcohol a little too much. Sometimes he could be disagreeable and hard to deal with. But we should all understand that none of this precludes him from being a victim of Police Brutality. So, I took a special interest in this case. I have always felt very strongly about Police Abuse and Police Brutality issues. I don’t think that any citizen should have to suffer a beating at the hands of the Police, who are supposed to be protecting and serving the citizenry. Yes, there are times when the Police must get physical and quell a physical threat, but that is called self defense or defense of the public. So, in this particular case; I did all I could to make my community aware of what had happened to David Riley. I spoke at a City Council Meeting, I spoke at a Police Officer’s Review Board Meeting, I spoke to the media and I blogged about it.
Here is an article where the Columbia Tribune wrote about me trying to bring some awareness to this issue: Investigator Stirs Up Closed Case.
Well, I had some people that believed I was right and some people that thought I was using the media to get some attention for myself. I can understand how some people might feel that way, often times when a person is trying to bring some attention to an issue that they are involved in; it is hard to distinguish who they are trying to get attention for. I told the CPD spokeswoman at the time, that this case would wind up costing the city some money. The CPD spokeswoman responded as if the CPD did everything right, and there was no way that David Riley could ever be on solid ground to sue the CPD.
And there is a twist…….
In the last two weeks David Riley was offered a settlement of he received $55,000.00 by the City of Columbia, MO. to NOT go to Federal Court with his case, which he accepted. We don’t know what the amount of the actual settlement was, but you can bet it was more than $55,000.00, because that amount is what David Riley personally received, he also had to have money for his hospital bills, and of course his attorney had to get paid for his hard work. Here is the Columbia Tribune Article on the settlement: City Settles With Man Who Was Beaten During 2009 Arrest
All I can say is good for David Riley. I am glad that he got some money to try to get his life back on track with. I also hope that the City of Columbia, MO. realizes that the undercover Officer that beat David Riley that night and his cohort, just cost the City of Columbia a significant amount of money.
I also want to make something else clear. When this incident occurred, Chief Burton had only been Chief of the CPD for a few months. While technically speaking, Chief Burton was in charge, he was so new that he was having to rely on his staff to see how the CPD was structured, what the policies were at the CPD, what their strengths and weaknesses were, and just to get a feel for how the CPD functioned overall. We don’t see these incidents in Columbia, MO. anymore. Chief Ken Burton has made tremendous strides to try to prevent these types of incidents from occurring. Chief Burton has terminated the employment of Officers that have behaved this way in the past, at great personal sacrifice to himself. We now have a wonderful Chief of Police at the CPD that cares about the citizenry here in Columbia, MO., and is tough enough to make the hard decisions in his job. Chief Burton has bought these types incidents way down. And, I think it is fair that we don’t put the responsibility of this on him ; he was not at the CPD long enough when this incident occurred to really implement any change that would have prevented this.
For the past two days I have been in court in Boone County, MO. Tonight on 04/10/2012 I got out of court around 10:30 PM. I was there with one of my Technical Consultants on a very interesting case. I want to discuss this case a little here on this blog.
First of all; before I post about this case I think that there are some really outstanding people who need to be acknowledged. The Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force deserves a lot of recognition. My company has worked cases involving several Internet Crimes Units in Law Enforcement; and this team is by far the very best in the state of Missouri. Andy Anderson, Scott Richardson, Mark Sullivan, and Tracy Perkins are simply phenomenal Investigators that are highly skilled, well-organized, and impressively knowledgeable about their work. These Detectives are an example of what Law Enforcement should be. These Detectives make sacrifices that most people could not begin to comprehend, everyday! They see things that are beyond heart breaking, and somehow manage to keep their humanity and integrity intact; indeed they are very special people. They are incredible people who we should all be grateful to. These wonderful people are keeping our children safe in Boone County and the surrounding areas, and doing a most impressive job of it! They are honest, decent people that I am proud to have working as Law Enforcement in the county that I live in. We owe them a tremendous debt!
When I post about the types of cases that RMRI, Inc. often finds itself working, I have a policy that I never mention the name of the defendant on my blog. So, here in this blog entry we will simply call the person that was charged in this case “The Defendant”.
In the case that I am posting about tonight a person was charged with Possession of Child Pornography and Promoting Child Pornography, two very serious felonies that have a potential of sending the defendant to prison for thirty years if convicted of these two crimes. This person was a young college student when they were charged with these offenses. A college student doing what most college students did back when Limewire was a functioning piece of software. This person was downloading music and videos, and was curious about what they could get from Limewire. As you can imagine, as a college student this person’s curiosity was vast and even extended into wanting to view some adult content material. In the process of downloading files from Limewire this person also downloaded three files that can only be termed as “illegal content”. These three files are what constituted the charges that were filed against this person.
When the defendant in this case had their computer seized and had a computer forensics examination performed on their computer, there were literally hundreds for music and video files on the computer and three clearly identifiable illegal files on their computer. Due to these findings, the defendant was charged with Possession of Child Pornography for having the files on their computer and Promotion of Child Pornography for having these files in a shared folder on their computer.
Now there is no doubt that the defendant downloaded these files, there is no doubt that the defendant possessed these files, there is no doubt that these files resided on the defendant’s computer in a shared folder. These facts were well established by the The Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force . And I will say this, if that were all that it would take to be guilty of these crimes, then the defendant would be guilty. However, these cases are far more complex than this. In almost every crime there is an element of intent, except in a few crimes which are called “Strict Liability Crimes”. In these intent based crimes the Prosecution has to show that the Defendant knowingly intended to commit the crime. In this case that means the Prosecution has to prove that the Defendant intended to download thee files for the purpose of deriving some sort of sexual satisfaction by viewing these files.
In this case Tracy Perkins and Scott Richardson gave testimony as to their factual findings in this case. Both of these Detectives should be commended for giving honest, factual testimony with no embellishment whatsoever. I have come to expect that high level of integrity and honesty from the Detectives at The Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force .
Attorneys George Batek and Kathryn Benson questioned these Detectives on cross-examination thoroughly and these Detectives just relayed the facts of their case honestly and with no embellishment. George Batek and Kathryn Benson are two SUPER Attorneys too, they did not miss a beat in this case. George and Kathryn are simply two of the hardest working attorneys that I have ever met!
George Batek and Kathryn Benson contracted with RMRI, Inc. to aid them on the technical aspects of this case about forty-five days ago. I chose to bring Steve Turner in on this case due to his extremely extensive knowledge of computers, the Internet, and working with people from novice computer users to advanced computer users in instructing them on how to properly use their computers and maintain their computers for over twenty years. Steve Turner was able to quickly develop a profile on the level of sophistication that the defendant possessed with regard to computers and the Internet-based on how the defendant used their computer. Steve Turner was able to demonstrate that the defendant was only a novice computer user and easily made some mistakes on setting their computer up and maintaining the software on their computer. Steve Turner gave Expert Witness testimony on exactly how the defendant managed to get the three files in question, and how it was entirely possible that the defendant mistakenly downloaded these files due to making some mistakes that only a novice computer user would make. Steve Turner is simply a phenomenal person with an impressive amount of experience and knowledge when it comes to working with computers, servers, the Internet, mobile devices, and telecommunications devices.
It is first necessary to say that The Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s Cyber Crimes Task Force did nothing wrong or incorrect. Their methodologies are sound, they are thorough, and they have a very impressive knowledge of Digital Forensics and Digital Evidence issues. Their work was never at anytime in question. The question simply came down to this: Was a Jury ready to send a young adult to prison for a long time and negatively impact their life for a long time over what may have very well been a simple mistake made by a novice computer user? And this Jury had the humanity and the wisdom to refuse to do so and to return a verdict of Not Guilty on both charges.
I have to admit that when the verdict was read I made a “whooping sound” that I felt quickly ashamed of afterwards, but this was because I really had some reservations about the wisdom of the Prosecution in charging this young person with these very serious crimes over what even looks like on its face to be a completely unintentional. I know that the Prosecutor was doing her job. And I am grateful that she too is a very tough lady with zero tolerance for these types of crimes. I have just never been sure in this case if it was wise to charge a young person with such terrible crimes. I mean, I have a hard time understanding the benefit to society in negatively impacting someone’s life with these types of charges for over what even on its face looks to be an honest mistake. But, I will concede that this Prosecutor is smarter than I am about these matters, and she has a level of understanding about the law that far exceeds my understanding of the law.
Despite my reservations about this young person being charged with these crimes; I was happy to be a part of this case. I was surrounded by really good and decent people on this case; two SUPER Defense Attorneys, four WONDERFUL Detectives that are just consummate Professionals at what they do, one of my Technical Consultants that I have become so proud to call a friend, a colleague, and a work associate, and a really nice, family that bound together with love for one another and showed that through their support of their family member, the defendant! In my mind, this was not a “win or lose case”; this was a case that restores one’s faith in people, in Law Enforcement, in the Family Unit and there is simply no better feeling than that!
About a month ago I was contacted by an attorney to locate a person for him. The attorney is a good friend of mine, and someone that I have known for quite a while. Because this is attorney is a friend of mine that I am sure would help me out if I ever encountered some legal problems, I did this locate as a courtesy to the attorney. With all of the information that is available to the consumer today and the additional amount of information available to Private Investigators today; a locate is really not that difficult, or at least it is not as difficult as it used to be but it can be time consuming.
Naturally the first thing any Private Investigator would do to locate a person is to start looking around on the Internet for information about the person, start running database reports and generate as much raw information about the subject as he or she can. Sometimes the raw data that is generated about a person can be quite extensive. The average consumer does not have a clue as to what it takes to locate a person that is hard to find, whether it be because the person has moved several times and their information has changed several times or because the person simply does not want to be found. It is entirely possible to generate fifty to seventy five pages of raw data on the subject the Private Investigator is trying to find. Any half-smart Private Investigator knows that there is a percentage of information that is generated from this Internet research that will be inaccurate. This is why this raw data has to be gone through with a “fine-toothed comb”; to weed out the inaccurate information and keep the accurate information and this can take hours and sometimes even days.
So, when I started to work my locate I generated over ninety pages of raw data. I had old addresses, old phone numbers, relatives, associates, email addresses, and more. The process for weeding out the inaccurate information requires talking to people and confirming the information that you have. In my case I would say that over seventy percent of the information I had was either not accurate, or “stale”. The thirty percent of the information that was accurate was not useful in actually getting in touch with the subject. I did have two addresses in Ozark, MO. that looked like they could be where the subject was living, so I told the attorney about them. The attorney was going to be in that area of Missouri so he said he’d go by the addresses and see if the subject lived at these addresses. The attorney reported back that the addresses were not current and asked me to continue on. So, I ran some reports on a different database and sifted through these reports and came up with an address that I had not seen on any of the other reports I had previously ran, but I did not have a phone number for the address. So, here is where it is time to get some field work done.
Now, the newest address that I had was in Springfield, MO., and I am in Columbia, MO.; I am approximately one hundred and eighty miles from Springfield, MO. In this case it occurs to me that it might be more economical to sub-contract this address check to a Private Investigator in Springfield, MO.; enter Heather Snow.
I contacted Heather Snow of Southwest Investigating Agency. Heather and I spoke and I told her what I needed and sent her all of the research that I had conducted up to the point that I had contacted her. Heather had just suffered a terrible family tragedy, but she still took this case and charged me an extremely reasonable fee. Within just a few days after receiving my payment, she found the person i was looking for. Heather Snow put several hours of work into making this happen, she went to the address I had once and nobody was home. Heather Snow then made a second trip to the address and spoke with a young man at the address who knew the subject and called him to meet with Heather. Heather Snow waited for the subject to show up, got all of the information from him that she could get, and then put him in touch with me. Heather Snow worked diligently, professionally, and she produced an effective result for me, at a most reasonable fee. Below are Heather Snow’s contact details:
Southwest Investigating Agency
305 E Walnut St, Ste 314, Springfield, MO 65806
I would highly recommend Heather Snow to anyone that needs a Private Investigator in Springfield, MO.; she is a worker! As it happens, Heather Snow’s father was a Private Investigator for thirty seven years and Heather grew up in the Private Investigator business; one could say that Heather was “groomed” to be a Private Investigator. I was completely satisfied with the service that Heather provided, Heather produced quick, effective, and accurate results, and she knew exactly how to handle this case. Heather Snow is your Private Investigator connection in the Springfield, Ozark, and Lake of The Ozarks area. I would not hire any other Private Investigator in that area other than Heather Snow.
There is a lesson here too. As one can see by reading the title of this post, the information that we have at our fingertips in this information age makes cases like this a little less difficult to work; but it is not a “case solver”, it is only a tool. There are many Private Investigators out there that believe that database information is the be all and end all to working a case; and they would be wrong. More often than not no matter how much information you get from the Internet and the various databases you may have access to you will have to confirm that information and often enough you will have to “put boots on the ground” and do some field work to complete your case. So, remember that Database are just a tool, you still have to investigate your case!
Back in the last part of 2011 RMRI, Inc. was called upon to review a case in Camdenton, MO. The case involved a young man who had three illegal files on his computer. The state of Missouri Family Services Division has what is known as a “Stat Team”; this is the team of Investigators that conduct technical investigations for the Division of Family Services. The “Stat Team” conducts Computer Forensics Examinations in cases where they might have a complaint of sexual abuse in the family home. If the “Stat Team” finds illegal content on the computer that the Investigator is examining the Investigator that did the examination can refer this case for prosecution.
In the case that RMRI, Inc. was contacted about the Missouri “Stat Team” found three images on the defendant’s computer of an illegal nature. Often times RMRI, Inc. will be called in by the defense attorney to consult on these types of cases. Because these specific types of cases are so technical due to the very nature of these cases often the Defense Attorney wants to call on an expert to explain exactly what occurred on the defendant’s computer that resulted in these charges, to interpret the evidence since it will usually consist of a good deal of technical jargon, and to see if the Investigator made any statements that might indicate that he or she did not correctly interpret their evidence. RMRI, Inc. has some of the best expert witnesses in the state of Missouri for cases involving almost all manners of digital evidence. RMRI, Inc. has a “Technical Team” of two experts that have a combined fifty years of experience in working with everything from software development and programming, source code analysis, virus and malware defense and protection, computer repair, file recovery, software development, computer security consulting, and forensic acquisition techniques.
When RMRI, Inc. is first called in to consult on a case of this nature the first thing that we want to do is see all of the discovery on these cases. We want to see the report from the Investigator that did the forensic analysis of the computer in question, we want to see any deposition material where the Investigators were deposed by the defense attorney, we want to see any interviews conducted with the defendant, and anything else that the prosecution has provided that will give us an accurate picture of what happened to cause the defendant to be charged. RMRI, Inc. also wants to be present for any testimony that the Investigator that worked this type of case gives.
In the present case that we are discussing here, the testimony of the Investigator that conducted the computer forensics examination on the defendant’s computer gave us great pause as to whether this Investigator correctly interpreted the evidence that he found on the defendant’s computer. In this case the Investigator believed that the defendant downloaded three illegal files to their computer for viewing. The reality of the case is that the defendant never even knew that these files resided on their computer. These files were simply thumbnails that were residing in the temporary file section of the defendant’s computer and were put their as a result of the defendant looking at a website, but NOT even knowing that this website would place these thumbnail images on their computer as a result of viewing this website. Through careful and methodical research RMRI, Inc. was able to not only come to understand what had occurred on the defendant’s computer but was also prepared to prove what happened on the defendant’s computer.
The main figure in this case that was actually able to get this case dismissed at deposition without it ever seeing a trial was the attorney. The attorney is Deirdre O’Donnell of Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter, & Welch, P.C. who was one of the sharpest and most intelligent attorneys that I have ever worked with. Deirdre grasped the issues that we found very quickly, she understood our explanation of what occurred in this case, and she clearly understood what questions needed to be asked of the Investigator for the state of Missouri. Below are the contact details for Deirdre O’Donnell:
Firm: Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter, & Welch, P.C.
Phone Number: (573) 346-7231
Address: 85 Court Circle N.W., Camdenton, MO. 65020
After RMRI, Inc. heard the State’s Investigator testify, analyzed the discovery evidence, and then worked with Deirdre a little on going over what had occurred on the defendant’s computer, Deirdre decided to depose the State’s Investigator. RMRI, Inc. worked with Deirdre on some of the more technical questions that she would ask the State’s Investigator during deposition, and Deirdre already had a comprehensive understanding of the issues that we wanted to find out more about in deposition, but RMRI, Inc.’s Technical Expert wanted to make sure that Deirdre was armed with all of the questions necessary to give us a complete understanding of what lead the State’s Investigator to apply for charges against the defendant in this case.
Deirdre O’Donnell spent countless hours preparing for this deposition, and she went into the deposition and started asking key questions of the State’s Investigator as to what he believed happened on the defendant’s computer, and why he believed as he did. The State’s Investigator had enough integrity and honor to admit shortly into the deposition that he did not have a complete understanding of how to conduct a forensic examination at the time of his testimony because he had only had the basic computer forensics course at that time; since his testimony he had taken an intermediary computer forensics course and has come to understand that some of what he testified to may not have been completely accurate. At this point in time the Prosecuting Attorney “nollied” (dismissed) the case against the defendant. The State’s Investigator and the Prosecuting Attorney showed a tremendous amount of integrity and honor once they came to an accurate understanding of what had occurred in this case.
Deirdre O’Donnell fought intelligently and passionately for her client. Deirdre worked this case in the most effective way possible and achieved the best possible outcome on this case. It takes a lot of work to convince a Prosecutor that he or she should drop charges and not proceed to trial. The Defense Attorney has to be able to clearly convince the Prosecutor that a crime was not committed; and Deirdre did that perfectly! God forbid, but if I ever have legal problem in the Camdenton, MO. area the ONLY attorney I would hire in that part of Missouri would be Deirdre O’Donnell!