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Fitbit Tracker to the Witness Stand

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 26, 2017 12:56 PM

First it was Alexa and now it is Fitbit -- these smart devices are going to court to catch alleged killers.

Alexa, the voice of Amazon's digital assistant, made the news last year when prosecutors subpoenaed her data to find out if she "overheard" an accused murderer. Fitbit, the fitness tracker, is at the center of a new murder case because she may reveal the victim's last movements.

Richard Dabate, the accused, said that a masked intruder shot his wife Connie Dabate. Her Fitbit, however, tells a different story.

"The Fitbit could be the star witness in all of this," reported CNN.

Last Movement

Dabate, who is being held on $1 million bail in the fatal shooting, told police that the intruder burst into their home and subdued him. He said he told his wife to run, but the killer shot her in the basement at 9:20 a.m.

However, police say that the woman was seen on video at a local YMCA at 9:18 a.m. She then posted from her home computer on Facebook at 9:40 a.m.

"At 10:05 a.m., the Fitbit registers its last movement," CNN reported. Dabate's story about his wife's last movements adds up to about 125 feet; Fitbit's about 1,217 feet.

Based on the discrepancies and other evidence, police arrested Dabate. He has been charged with murder, tampering with evidence, and making a false statement.

Echo in Evidence

The Fitbit crime story is just beginning, but Alexa has been in the news for months. She is the voice of Amazon's Echo, a popular smart device that responds to voice commands.

James A. Bates, who is free on $350,000, is accsued of killing his friend after a night of drinking. The victim was found dead in a hot tub. Bates said it was an accident; police said there was evidence of a struggle.

Investigators subpoenaed Alexa's data for more information, but Amazon resisted the warrant on First Amendment and privacy grounds. Bates later agreed to waive his rights.

The case, however, leaves open legal questions about smart devices, privacy, and other rights. In the meantime, Fitbit and Alexa are answering key questions in murder cases.

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