FBI Trying to Hack iPhone in Murder Case

Apple devices belong to Arkansas murder suspects
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2016 6:03 AM CDT
FBI Trying to Hack iPhone in Murder Case
An iPhone is seen in Washington.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

The FBI will again put its mysterious phone-hacking skills to use: A prosecutor in Arkansas says the FBI's Little Rock field office has agreed to help hack an iPhone and iPod owned by two teenagers accused of killing a couple in July. Hunter Drexler, 18—whose iPhone 6 was seized upon his arrest—was scheduled to go to trial next week, per the AP. However, prosecutors asked for a delay hours after the FBI said it had broken into San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone 5c. "Obviously when we heard that [the FBI] had been able to crack that phone, we wanted to at least ask and see if they wanted to help," the prosecutor tells the Los Angeles Times. It isn't clear if the FBI will use the same technique as on Farook's phone. There's no guarantee it will work and the method could be revealed at trial, an official says.

"In a criminal case, if the FBI uses a technique, there's going to be questions about divulging that technique or chain of custody to the defense," says a lawyer with digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. "So my instinct is this might be something different." Robert and Patricia Cogdell, both 66, were found murdered in their Conway, Ark., home last summer. Drexler is one of four suspects in the case alongside 15-year-old Justin Staton, who was raised as the couple's grandson. Staton's attorney was forced to hand over the teen's iPod last week after prosecutors said recorded phone conversations suggested Staton had used the device to plan the murders. Both Drexler and Staton have pleaded not guilty to capital murder, aggravated robbery, and other charges. Drexler's trial has been rescheduled for June 27. (More FBI stories.)

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