Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge gives lawyers in Schenecker case more time to review evidence

TAMPA — What's on those 93 DVDs of data dug out of five computers in the Schenecker home? Is there evidence of the murders of two children that Julie Schenecker is accused of committing last year? Or are there military secrets of ex-husband Parker Schenecker, an Army colonel who specialized in the Middle East?

Both prosecutors and public defenders have copies of the DVDs produced by a state digital forensics lab, but neither side is able so far to translate all the data into something they can read or understand.

On Wednesday, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody gave them 45 days before she rules on whether the data can be made public. She also asked the lawyers to think about what their computer conundrum means to the rules of discovery evidence and to fair trials.

Under the law, defendants are entitled to see all the evidence the state has against them. "My concern," the judge said, "is in this new age of electronic data, we're not giving the defense so much data that it's unsearchable."

It's a question being asked elsewhere, said professor Paul Ohm, who teaches computer crime law at the University of Colorado Law School.

"As we move into the computer age and cases are built on warehouses of information," he said, "that could be a very big problem for public defenders around the country.

"Sadly, this is all tied to how public defender offices get funded. They tend to be public institutions and the taxpayer is the one on the hook for making sure they have enough money to do everything they want to do. … And we're talking about expensive stuff here."

At Wednesday's hearing, Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner said he didn't know what was on the DVDs when they were provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He still doesn't.

He said that out of fairness, he chose to give the defense all the data as he got it.

Pruner said his office will decipher the data in house, but the process will be slow, even using a software called EnCase that is the national standard for digital forensics. His counterpart, Assistant Public Defender Robert Fraser, said his office will turn the data over to a private company.

Neither gave an estimate of how much the deciphering will cost.

Schenecker is charged in the January 2011 shooting deaths of her two children, Calyx and Beau. No trial date has been set. Judge Moody asked the lawyers for an update on the data problem on March 14.

"Be mindful of our obligation," she said. "The defense needs data that is searchable and understandable."

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Patty Ryan contributed to this story. John Barry can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3383.

Judge gives lawyers in Schenecker case more time to review evidence 01/18/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 12:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza


    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  2. Andy Serkis' directing debut 'Breathe' is not so inspiring


    After such a revolutionary acting career, Andy Serkis should be expected to make an equally inventive directing debut. Breathe is anything but that.

    Clare Foy and Andrew Garfield star in Breathe as Robin and Diana Cavendish, an English polio victim and his devoted wife, who pioneered disability rights and wheelchairs with ventilators. [Imaginarium]
  3. Federal judge blocks Trump's third travel ban

    A federal judge on Tuesday largely blocked the Trump administration from implementing the latest version of the president's controversial travel ban, setting up yet another legal showdown on the extent of the executive branch's powers when it comes to setting immigration policy.

    Protesters waved signs and chanted during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban outside a federal courthouse in Seattle in May. The third version of Trump's proposal was blocked by a federal judge Tuesday. [AP photo]
  4. The #BrooklynCow delighted Twitter for one glorious afternoon


    In the long tradition of social media delighting in news reports of a non-native animal running loose in an urban setting, Twitter, for a few blissful hours this afternoon, turned its collective …

    A bull was on the loose in Brooklyn for a little while on Tuesday afternoon.
  5. Pinellas, Hillsborough to join forces


    What is this, a crossover episode?

    Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins did make an appearance at the Pinellas County School Board workshop Tuesday in a first public move to establish an official partnerships between the two districts.

    Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins (center) and Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego discuss a new partnership between the two districts at a Pinellas County School Board workshop Tuesday in Largo.