The recovery of a deleted video on a phone owned by Travis Marc Martel was revealed in January 2010, as he stood trial in Alberta, Canada for the murder of Sarah Nicole Rae.
According to the prosecution, Mr Martel stabbed Ms Rae to death after their tumultuous relationship came to a head – an allegation he denies. The court heard that his mobile phone had been recovered and mobile phone forensics techniques were used to recover a deleted video, which appears to show Ms Rae’s final moments following the attack.
Crown prosecutor Gord Wong said:
“A deleted video from the cellphone was recovered. You’ll hear, in essence, that video is of the dying moments of Sarah Rae with some statements made, the Crown alleges, from the accused.”
As the trial continues, the case is the latest to highlight the growing importance of the role of Digital Forensics Analysts in the investigation of crime. Such experts are able to analyse mobile phones, computers and other digital devices to recover deleted or damaged evidence in support of a suspect’s guilt, or indeed innocence.
While such devices are not typically involved directly in the commission of a crime, the recovery of data such as photos, text messages and videos can still provide investigators with vital information. For example, such data may prove that communication occurred between suspects, or provide support for an alibi in the form of a time stamped photograph.
With the advent of “smart phones”, the level of information that could lay hidden in a suspect’s pocket can be even greater. Modern smart phones such as the Blackberry or iPhone typically allow users to send email, browse the internet, create and edit documents, manage calendars, as well as a host of other functions. In fact, such devices now boast much of the functionality of a full PC.
As technology of this type becomes an integral part of people’s lives, it seems likely that an increasingly large proportion of potential evidence will migrate to the digital sphere. Arguably, this could meant that digital forensic analysis will move from being an optional tool, to a standard and essential element of any criminal investigation.