A Florida man accused of killing his roommate used his iPhone to ask Siri how to hide the dead body, according to evidence presented at trial.
Strangely, the Palm Beach Post reports that Siri actually responded to Pedro Bravo's request, giving suggestions like: "Swamps. Reservoirs. Metal foundries. Dumps."
Aside from wondering what Apple's programmers might have been thinking, can this sort of Siri "testimony" be evidence against Bravo?
Siri Dropped a Dime on Defendant
Bravo is accused of murdering his roommate, University of Florida student Christian Aguilar, on or around September 20, 2012. The Post reports that prosecutors presented evidence that Bravo was using his cell phone in locations and times that contradict Bravo's alibi.
According to The Gainesville Sun, Bravo is accused of strangling Aguilar to death in his SUV in a Walmart parking lot. The 20-year-old is then alleged to have driven to a forest in nearby Levy County to bury his roommate, whose body was later found with metallic tape looped around his wrists and near his feet.
Using the advanced GPS and data-recording capabilities of Bravo's iPhone, investigators were able to produce evidence that at the time of the alleged killing, Bravo told Siri, "I need to hide my roommate." The Sun reports that investigators believe Bravo also activated the iPhone's flashlight function during the time he was burying Aguilar's body in the woods.
Confronting Your Data
Defense attorney Stephen Bernstein told the Sun that the iPhone evidence -- including location data obtained by Verizon -- should not be shown to a jury because the employee who prepared the data wasn't called to testify. Defendants have a constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment to confront their accusers in criminal court. This right typically dovetails with the common law rule against allowing hearsay evidence.
Without being able to question the Verizon technician(s) who prepared data about which cell towers Bravo's iPhone connected to that fateful night, Bravo could argue he has no way to test the reliability of that evidence -- which may be an issue on appeal.
It may be easier for Bravo to appeal the introduction of the cell site data, which is currently a matter of contention in federal court, but his conversation with Siri is a stranger matter. As long as it is not unduly prejudicial and not offered to prove the assertion that Bravo said "I need to hide my roommate," then the Siri evidence may be properly admitted.