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January 28th, 2007

Another Reason Why I Oppose The Death Penalty

Via aTypical Joe

Brian Krebs on Computer Security:

A 40-year-old former substitute teacher from Connecticut is facing prison time following her conviction for endangering students by exposing them to pornographic material displayed on a classroom computer.

Local prosecutors charged that the teacher was caught red-handed surfing for porn in the presence of seventh graders. The defense claimed the graphic images were pop-up ads generated by spyware already present on the computer prior to the teacher’s arrival. The jury sided with the prosecution and convicted her of four counts of endangering a child, a crime that brings a punishment of up to 10 years per count. She is due to be sentenced on March 2.

I had a chance this week to speak with the accused, Windham, Conn., resident Julie Amero. Amero described herself as the kind of person who can hardly find the power button on a computer, saying she often relies on written instructions from her husband explaining how to access e-mail, sign into instant messaging accounts and other relatively simple tasks.

Read the entire article, clickthrough to its links. You will find that in this case, as in so many others, the jury believed the police over a computer forensics expert and the testimony of the teacher. Said the expert:

This was one of the most frustrating experiences of my career, knowing full well that the person is innocent and not being allowed to provide logical proof.

If there is an appeal and the defense is allowed to show the entire results of the forensic examination in front of experienced computer people, including a computer literate judge and prosecutor, Julie Amero will walk out the court room as a free person.

You know what?  I’ll bet that prosecutor kept anyone in the jury pool who was a computer professional from sitting on that jury. 

"Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached."
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

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