Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Forensic Software and the Casey Anthony case

The New York Times is running a fairly disturbing report about the details of some of the forensic software which was used as "evidence" in the Casey Anthony trial. I didn't pay much attention to the trial at the time, as it was too much a circus; now I see to my dismay that it was indeed a circus and that poor handling of software played a significant role in that.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office had used the software to validate its finding that Ms. Anthony had searched for information about chloroform 84 times, a conclusion that Mr. Bradley says turned out to be wrong.


Soon after giving testimony, Mr. Bradley learned during the defense portion of the case that the police had written a first report in August 2008 detailing Ms. Anthony’s history of Internet searches. That report used NetAnalysis, a different software.


He found both reports were inaccurate (although NetAnalysis came up with the correct result), in part because it appears both types of software had failed to fully decode the entire file, due to its complexity. His more thorough analysis showed that the Web site sci-spot.com was visited only once — not 84 times.

I'm pleased to see the NYT taking the effort to follow-up on the case and pursue important details like this. People in the law enforcement community ought to care about thoroughness and accuracy; as a society, we delegate extremely important decisions to them and they need to understand the importance of that trust that they carry.


  1. I agree fully. I have been folowing in a very intense way (obtained and reviewed all(except the disk image) the evidence - published discovery- of this trial. The testimony regarding the "sniffing" analysis from the trunk got me interested because I could not believe what I was hearing. The basic science was missing in this case...and after review of the material that any person interested could find, I was angry. The prosecution lied and played the forensic cards with non-forensic evidence. In this case they did it so openly I believe because they figured the mob mentality of the public would not "look into it". As you say that the search was important to this case but the search was the only thing they had to try to prove pre-meditation. I am sure you read both software providers statements regarding this case (which Cacheback's has now been removed from the internet due to legal pressure, either from the prosecution or his own attorneys (I assume one or the other). The prosecution should not have tried to destroy the reputation of a forensic expert by having him read a report he did not create - with the intention of giving it validity. I would like to discuss this with you in more detail if you are interested as I am trying to keep an interest in the way this case was handled and would like your input. This case so caught my attention and my review has lead me to want to author a report of the failure of using the non-forensic evidence as forensic. I am a scientist (in the real world) and it was actually the "sniffer" evidence that grabbed my attention...from taht point on I was amazed how the prosecution used evidence in the way they did. Although my time is very limited I have found myself unable to walk away from this because one must remove Casey and the actual horrific death to realize that if you or your family member were accused of a crime you would not want it allowed-what the prosecution did-. I do not know the best way to contact you and I do not wan to publish my email, so if interested post how I can contact you...maybe I need to look at your blog for an email...sorry in a hurry and just happy to see someone looking at this with a open and honest view...so I wanted to put my 2 cents in.
    Have a great day.

  2. OK had to use google to post so you have my email if interested. Also, from your knowledge - I amj interested in a very specific database use that I would like to pick your brain on.