Could Amazon Echo solve a murder?

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Detectives investigating a murder case in Arkansas have asked Amazon for recordings which could have been made by an Echo device. Officers in Bentonville have urged Amazon to hand over audio and other records from an Echo digital assistant.

Police want recording from the property of James Andrew Bates after Victor Collins was found dead in a hot tub at the home last year. Bates has been charged with killing Mr Collins, according to court documentation.

It is understood that the pair had been drinking and watching football along with other friends. According to an affidavit, Mr Collins and another friend stayed over after Bates said they were welcome to use the couch and a guest bed.

Bates is understood to have dropped off to sleep and, at some point during the night, Mr Collins died in the hot tub. A post mortem examination revealed that the cause of death was strangulation and drowing.

Refused

After being charged with murder, Bates has been bailed while investigations continue. However, Amazon is understood to have refused to provide the information requested. Police have also found information from the home’s smart water meter which showed that far more water than usual was used in the early hours of the morning. Officers believe that Bates could have used the water to wash blood from his hot tub area and patio.

However, officers have asked Amazon for Bates’ Echo information twice, raising questions about how smart technology will be used in police investigations in the future and privacy issues.

Kimberly Weber, Bates’ lawyer said that her client is innocent and will be cleared. However, she said she did have an issue with the precedent of a search warrant including information from smart devices. She explained: “I have a problem that a Christmas gift that is supposed to better your life can be used against you. It’s almost like a police state.”

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