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Data Recovered From DVD Leads To Conviction, 24-Year Sentence 231

Lucas123 writes "The Santa Cruz, Calif. DA's office had been counting on a DVD with the recorded testimony of a victim in case against a serial rapist, but when they popped the video into the player, nothing came up — the disc was blank. To make matters worse, the cop who performed the original interview with the victim told the DA she never said she was 'forced,' so the judge wasn't going to allow the witness to testify in a case where her original statement to police was in conflict with her current testimony. After two local data recovery firms said there was no way to restore the data, a third was able to recover the police interview from two years earlier, which led the defendant to plead guilty earlier this month. Close call."
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Data Recovered From DVD Leads To Conviction, 24-Year Sentence

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  • eep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dissy ( 172727 ) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:18PM (#26099619)

    Hardware: Recovered Data From a Corrupt DVD Leads To Conviction, 24-Year Sentence

    Why did my mind instantly jump to the conclusion that some data recovery tech worker did someone a favor, got sued by the MPAA, and got a 24-year sentence...

  • by RiffRafff ( 234408 ) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:27PM (#26099677) Homepage

    I can't believe the other "two local data recovery firms" got stumped by this simple problem.

    Really. I wonder what the names of those two firms are, so we'll know who NOT to go to.

  • by sith ( 15384 ) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:28PM (#26099693)

    Almost sounds like a DVD that wasn't finalized in a direct-to-dvd camcorder.

  • Re:eep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:57PM (#26099847)

    my immediate question was, "did they try a PAL player?"

    I seriously doubt that a police department in Santa Cruz would have recorded it on a PAL device or have a PAL DVD player available.

  • Re:Tinfoil hat eh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:19AM (#26099963)

    I think you overestimate the resources of the Santa Cruz police.
    McCarthy? Bush? GITMO?? Seriously, Santa Cruz isn't exactly playing in that world.

  • hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:20AM (#26099979)
    Couldn't they just have their local forensics lab run FTK on it? I mean, it has saved me and those I work for tons of frustration thanks to stuff like this.
  • Re:Tinfoil hat eh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:28AM (#26100013)

    I think you overestimate the resources of the Santa Cruz police.
    McCarthy? Bush? GITMO?? Seriously, Santa Cruz isn't exactly playing in that world.

    yes, because if such a job were to be done, it would be a federal prosecution and not delgated to a smaller, less significant branch.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:47AM (#26100139)

    And you think DVDs are a big deal? Think again. On healthcare for example, we are beaten by Cuba!

    I guess you are among those who do not believe that some of these so called 3rd world countries are *slightly* ahead of us especially in what a cellphone can be used for. Now, that's a fact.

  • Re:Tinfoil hat eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jackbird ( 721605 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:50AM (#26100161)
    I think the GP overestimates the state of the art in 3D rendering and animation. I don't think any team anywhere could fake a video like that to the satisfaction of the people who were actually there. Much less do it in secret on a DA's budget.
  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @12:52AM (#26100175) Journal
    You need more than one copy of your data. At least one of the copies needs to be off site. If this is not the case, it is not backed up.
  • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @01:24AM (#26100329) Homepage Journal

    Maybe the headline should read "incompetent data recovery nearly lets rapist get away"

  • by Merls the Sneaky ( 1031058 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:08AM (#26100527)

    Microwave 5 seconds.

  • by gregbot9000 ( 1293772 ) <mckinleg@csusb.edu> on Saturday December 13, 2008 @02:56AM (#26100725) Journal
    You know, I've recorded 100's of hours of material and I never had that problem. Maybe when peoples lives are on the line they should stick to more proven analog technology and let it be the family that loses their trip to Disneyland to test the waters of the new tech?
  • by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @05:34AM (#26101321)

    Your comment is not insightful at all, you are just looking for someone else to drag along for the blame, for any stupid reason other than the right one. The individuals doing the investigation would have been the ones who let the rapist get away with the crime. End of story. "Here at the California DA office we routinely put all our eggs in one basket". What kind of shop are they running there anyway? - a single video recording device, one disc, a large number of months between the interview recording and the need to use that disc in court. Nobody bothers to see if the disc actually works until it's needed.

    Now that is incompetence at its finest.

  • Re:Help! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eh2o ( 471262 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @05:35AM (#26101323)

    Quite simple. *Never* talk to the police. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik [youtube.com]

  • Re:eep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HateBreeder ( 656491 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @06:07AM (#26101445)

    You can always print your photos out.

    Besides, everyone knows that optical media is not suitable as an archival medium. (CD rot.. decay.. we've been hearing about those for years)

    In my opinion, The most cost effective/reliable solution for a home user, is buying HDD and using them in some raid configuration, replacing them as they fail once every few years.

  • Re:Help! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:29AM (#26101709)

    Ok, enough with the data recovery stuff. Can someone please explain to me why the victim was not allowed to testify? I tried to understand but it really is beyond me. Maybe someone can help out with a simple car analogy etc.

    The woman was interviewed, the interview recorded on DVD, and the DVD was lost. The vague recollection of a policeman who was present was that she had said in the interview that she wasn't forced. Later she said that she was forced. Now this looks like there is conflicting evidence, and the police conveniently lost the evidence that was speaking _for_ the accused. If the vague recollection of the policeman was right, and if she then was allowed to testify again, there would have been two conflicting testimonies. One that says the accused was innocent, testimony conveniently lost and not shown to the jury, and one that says he is guilty, testimony proudly presented to the jury. I can see how the judge wouldn't see that as a fair trial.

  • Re:eep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:52AM (#26101781)

    Cops and other institutions are not going to copy their stored DVDs every year. They want something that they can "record once, throw in a box, and forget it". The analog tape fits that role perfectly because even though it might have some magnetic loss, it will still be watchable when Cold Case digs it out of the box in year 2030. ;-)

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @08:43AM (#26101967)

    Not to defend these people but data storage systems are seldom sold with the caveat "look out, these things don't last forever, make sure you've got a plan B". You'd be amazed how many people outside of IT simply don't consider backup to be important.

    And even if a salesman did make that clear to the DA's office, I wonder how long it would be before a less than honest salesman made out that his product didn't have that issue (even though it's exactly the same technology) and took the contract?

  • Re:Help! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:01PM (#26106441) Journal

    Your first sentence answered the question you made in your second sentence. Watch the above linked video for clarification.
    Based on the fact that a cop DOES NOT LIE, when the rape victim steps into that box, swears and then says that the cop (who does not lie - EVER) said something wrong - rape victim can end up in jail for purgery.
    Or at best, just make a fool of themselves and made to appear like someone who goes around accusing innocent people for no reason.

    Correct way is to talk to a lawyer hired by you or appointed to you and have him/her talk to the police.
    Naturally, a lawyer that has two things. YOUR best interest in mind and a BRAIN.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes