Criminal Justice

Did suspect use Siri for suggestions on how to hide a body? Media gets details wrong

A screen shot of a murder suspect’s iPhone which was displayed during his murder trial in Florida on Tuesday put the iPhone’s helpful voice of Siri in a bad light.

The screen shot led to incorrect media reports that murder defendant Pedro Bravo had asked Siri for help on how to hide a body, and that Siri had responded with several suggestions, report the Gainesville Sun and the Washington Post. The screen shot began with this statement, “I need to hide my roommate,” and this response, “What kind of place are you looking for?” A list followed: swamps, reservoirs, metal foundries, dumps and mines.

It turns out that police did display the cellphone screen shot in their case against Pedro Bravo, accused of fatally strangling a friend, but it wasn’t a summary of an inquiry by Bravo. Instead, it came from a Facebook browsing session. Bravo had an iPhone 4, which doesn’t have Siri. The body of the man Bravo is accused of killing was found in a wooded area about 60 miles west of Gainesville.

Gainesville Police Department Detective Matt Goeckel testified the screen shot was from a Siri program, but it came from an image stored in Bravo’s phone from a Facebook browsing session. “It was cached on Facebook, it was viewed on Facebook with this phone,” Goeckel testified.

On cross-examination, Goeckel acknowledged that the screen grab was among hundreds of images on Bravo’s phone and there is no evidence Bravo made an inquiry about hiding a roommate. CBS News had an account. CBS Miami had a report on his testimony and WUFT has a partial transcript.

Prosecutors are relying on other cellphone evidence as well. Goeckel testified that pings from the cellphone showed Bravo headed west on the day of the victim’s disappearance, then the phone was disconnected from the network. Goeckel also testified the flashlight on the phone was used for about an hour.

The Washington Post tried telling Siri “I need to hide my roommate” and got this response: “I’m sorry.”

Typo corrected at 11:10 a.m.

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