Home assistants and smart speakers are popping up in more and more homes, helping us out with the mundane and not so mundane aspects of life. Falling into the not so mundane category, Florida police are using audio from two Amazon Alexa devices to try and solve a murder case.
The case involves a woman, Silvia Galva, who was killed after a domestic dispute ended with her being impaled through the chest with a wooden spear. Her boyfriend, Adam Crespo, has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder, and says that her death was an accident after he pulled her off the bed and she landed on the spear.
There wasn’t anybody else in the room at the time, but police are hoping that the two Alexa devices near by will serve as a witness. Their theory is that if at some point during the domestic dispute, a wake word was said, then one or both of the devices may have recorded the fight and tell police whether this case is actually a murder or not.
Amazon was contacted to see what they thought about all this, and a representative made a statement that said Amazon “does not disclose customer information in response to government demands unless we’re required to do so to comply with a legally valid and binding order.”
Basically they’re not going to hand over audio unless they’re legally obliged to. It’s a solid rule to follow, but one that they may have to look at more and more often. We’ve already seen cases of smart home assistants helping out in crimes before this one. Most recently audio from an Alexa was used in solving a double murder in New Hampshire, and a domestic violence incident in New Mexico.
The Silvia Galva case is still ongoing, and will be definitely one to keep an eye on. However this particular case turns out, it almost certainly won’t be the last time we see a headline that involves the words “Alexa” and “murder”.