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Alibi By Facebook
By: Jeff Louis
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It seems like this one of those questions that there's no hope in answering: "Where were you on Tuesday the 3rd at 10pm?" Thinking...thinking...thinking...do I tell these guys that I don't know where I was this morning, let alone three weeks ago on a Tuesday? No, they'd just think I was being sarcastic. They would be be right.

It would seem to me that in 2009, the alibi question, accounting for your whereabouts at such and such at time, would be a thing of the past. Way past. Technology has brought us to the point where we can split an atom, yet we'll still consider someone a suspect if they can't provide information as to: 

  • Where they were
  • What they were doing
  • If there is a second source that can verify this

After reading Rodney Bradley's story, it struck me that I had better figure out a method of documenting my whereabouts in some measurable method, or I could end up having to answer questions for which I don't have any answers. 

On October 17th, two men were mugged at gunpoint in Brooklyn, NY. Bradford, facing a 2009 robbery indictment for an unrelated case, learned that he was not only a suspect in the October 17th mugging, but the police were also actively searching for him. Having absolutely nothing to fear, Bradford turned himself in, thinking that he would be quickly exonerated as a suspect and go on his merry way. That's not the way things worked out; he was identified in a police lineup, charged with first degree robbery, and was on his way to Rikers Island that afternoon. 

Luckily, his father discovered that son Rodney had updated his Facebook status a minute prior to the crime. Well, maybe he updated, then ran all the way to Brooklyn to commit the crime, which is plausible, if the crime happened right outside his front door, which it didn't. The crime was in Brooklyn, and the update was made in Harlem and there is absolutely no way Rodney could have committed the crime. Thus, his attorney subpoenaed Facebook to provide the documentation that would prove the account was updated from his Harlem location. It worked, and the case was thrown out of court.  

Good or bad, we live in a society where our location can be determined by what cell phone tower bounced a mobile phone call, or by surveillance cameras on street corners and in businesses, or by computers that date stamp everything. According to attorney Jonathan Handel:

"We're in a much more trackable world...The extent to which it means that the right people get prosecuted and the innocent get their cases dropped, that's all the good."

The attorney pointed to the bad being invasion of privacy. 

Let's see: Jail or invasion of privacy? Hmm. Decisions....decisions. Go to jail for a yet-undetermined amount of time, or let someone read my Facebook page?

Although I do feel for young Rodney Bradford, when the story is put into perspective, the police did as good a job as possible; Mr. Bradford was picked by the victims as the perpetrator. Not to let anything slip by or let a mistake be a mistake, the freed 19-year old has hired an attorney, intent on suing the city for his pain and suffering for those 12 days in jail. Oh well, other people's kids.

One possibility, though not brought up in court, is that young Brandon could certainly have had an accomplice update his Facebook page for him while committing the crime. Is this the beginning of the "Facebook Defense?"


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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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