Call today at: (559) 443-7442

Fitbit Data To Be Used in Murder Trial

May 15, 2017 by Mike McKneely in Criminal Defense

Law enforcement is increasingly using technology to help solve various types of crimes. One aspect of the use of technology in criminal investigations involves digital data, and in particular, data recovered from mobile devices. Digital evidence which may be captured from sophisticated electronic media devices has become a powerful weapon in the arsenal of investigators and prosecutors. If you are currently the subject of a criminal homicide prosecution that includes evidence obtained from an electronic device, you’re going to need the type of intelligent legal representation services offered by a knowledgeable Fresno murder lawyer.

At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we understand the complexities involved with defending against a murder charge. As a highly skilled Fresno murder attorney with valuable past experience as a prosecutor, Michael McKneely understands what is necessary to develop a powerful defense. As an adept attorney in matters of criminal law, he can present your case in court to help you achieve the best possible outcome on your behalf.

Call attorney Mike McKneely today at (559) 443-7442 to set up a free case evaluation, or contact us through our online form.

The Testimony of Fitbit Data

Technology devices that are worn on the body are helping people stay active. Not only do they fulfill this important role, but they can also record various aspects of your life and activities. These include keeping track of the distance you have walked, your heart rate, your sleep schedule, and even places you have visited. This type of information can prove very valuable to law enforcement officials investigating everything from accidents to criminal actions.

Regarding criminal cases and Fitbit data evidence, a recent case coming out of Ellington, CT comes to mind. Richard Dabate of Ellington is accused of murdering his wife Connie Dabate in their home on the morning of December 23, 2015.

At the time of her murder, Connie had a wearable exercise device on her person, specifically a Fitbit exercise tracker that recorded her movements that morning. The data collected from the device she was wearing is proving to be a vital component in the prosecution’s case.

The description of the evidence described below pertaining to this case is not meant to persuade or establish the potential guilt or innocence of the accused. It is only meant to demonstrate the valuable nature of such digital data as mentioned above that can potentially be useful in determining the outcome of a case such as this.

The Defendant’s Timeline of Events

Richard Dabate explained to investigators that shortly after he put his two children on the bus for school on the morning of December 23, he left for work at about 8:30 a.m. Not long after that, his wife Connie also left to attend an exercise class at a local YMCA with a Fitbit device attached to her waistband.

Mr. Dabate explained that soon after he left for work, he received an alert indicating an activation of his home alarm. At that point, he stated that he emailed his boss at work from his vehicle to inform him he would be late.

Upon arriving home, he said he heard a noise and went upstairs to check it out, at which time he encountered an intruder – a stocky 6’2” man wearing camouflage clothing and a mask. According to his account, this occurred at about 9:00 a.m., at which time he also stated his wife returned home in the midst of the confrontation.

Mr. Dabate stated that he heard his wife entering the residence from the garage door into the kitchen and yelled for her to run. He also said that shortly thereafter the intruder shot and killed his wife.

He also described the struggle he had with the intruder who allegedly attacked him with a knife and partially bound him to a chair with zip ties. He also said the masked individual demanded his credit cards and wallet, and burned him with a torch, but that he eventually turned the torch on the attacker at which point the attacker left the torch, put his hands to his face, and ran out.

Richard Dabate said that he then crawled upstairs still partially bound to the chair, and pushed the panic button on his home alarm system, and called 911. The actual recorded time that the alarm system was activated was 10:11 a.m.

The Fitbit Timeline

Data collected from the Fitbit device Connie Dabate was wearing that day presents a different timeline of her final movements than that offered by Mr. Dabate. The data shows that Connie was moving around and active for over an hour after her husband claimed the murder occurred. It also reveals that she traveled 1,217 feet after she arrived home. On the contrary, Richard Dabate claimed that she was murdered by the intruder as she arrived home at around 9:00 a.m. According to police records, the distance from Connie’s vehicle when she pulled into her home to the location she died is not more than 125 feet.

Connie’s Fitbit also reveals that she arrived home at 9:23 a.m. In addition, records of her Facebook feed activity show that she was posting videos on there between 9:40 a.m. and 9:46 a.m. According to the Fitbit data, Connie Dabate’s final living movement occurred at 10:05 a.m.

Fitbit Data Used to Charge the Defendant

Additional evidence in the case not mentioned here may also impact the case’s final outcome. But, the focus of the information here is to demonstrate the potential powerful testimonial nature of the data obtained from these types of digital devices in such high-stakes legal cases.

The arrest warrant provides a breakdown of all of Connie’s movements and her locations on that day, from the time she woke up until the time she was killed. From all of the data obtained from her Fitbit device investigators were able to construct a minute-by-minute timeline of her movements that morning. Unless there is a flaw in the accuracy of the Fitbit data collected, the data itself is significant evidence for use by the prosecution in this case.

Based partially on this collected digital information, the accused, Mr. Dabate, was charged with murder, providing false statements, and tampering with evidence on April 14, 2017. He has been subsequently released on $1 million bond awaiting trial.

The Hartford Courant has quoted Mr. Dabate’s lawyer as saying that he is “innocent of these charges, and he looks forward to being vindicated after a trial.”

Contact a Skilled Fresno Murder Attorney

If you are currently facing charges of similar nature, whether, for murder or some other serious offense, you need dedicated and intelligent legal counsel to make sure your side of events is clearly and persuasively explained to a jury of your peers.

Attorney Michael McKneely is a highly skilled Fresno murder lawyer who also has previous prosecutorial experience. He is uniquely positioned to fight on your behalf, to defend your rights and find a way to help clear you of the charges in your case. He is knowledgeable about technology that is commonly used in criminal trials, and he knows how to refute digital data.

Call our team at Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today at (559) 443-7442 for a free legal consultation.

COVID-19 Notice: Our firm is open and available to help. We are all being impacted in different ways, but we will all get through this together.Learn More