By John Ahearne, Forensic Analyst When data is is needed for use as evidence, it…
DriveSavers played a key role in helping to bring a murder suspect to justice in a Texas case where forensic evidence proved the killer lured the teen-age victim to her death with false text and social media messages.
The death penalty was handed down last month in the jury trial of Franklin Davis, who was found guilty of killing 16-year-old Shania Gray in September, 2012. The girl’s body was discovered by investigators in a river near Carollton, Texas. Her badly damaged iPhone was found in a nearby pond.
Davis was facing rape charges involving a sexual assault of the girl prior to the murder. Prosecutors said the defendant used text messages and social media messages to lure the victim –who was his children’s babysitter– to a meeting where she was killed to keep her from testifying in the rape case.
Since the water-damaged iPhone held the only available copies of those messages, the case revolved around that evidence.
Texas authorities were unable to get anything useful from the phone. They sent the device to a federal government forensics laboratory, but they were unable to obtain a forensic image of the contents.
In desperation, the prosecutors asked Apple for help with the device. Apple referred them to DriveSavers and our engineers were able to make a Cellebrite forensic image of the phone’s data. That data ended up being a key factor in the outcome of the trial.
Two DriveSavers forensic investigators testified for the prosecution, providing details about how the work was done to gather information from the water-logged phone.
“Each and every one of you played a very unique and significant role in uncovering the murderous plot beset upon a beautiful 16-year-old child, and for that each of you are to be commended,” wrote Brandon Birmingham of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.”For all of that, and on behalf of Shania’s family, and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, please let me say ‘Thank You.’ You all did a good thing, and we are grateful.”