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Alexa, Who Killed Victor Collins? Amazon Echo Device To Be ‘Witness’ In Murder Trial

In accordance with the ongoing murder trial against James Bates, authorities are seeking to expand the investigation to include the Amazon Echo that was owned by Bates. It was announced last week that the courts have granted the prosecutor’s requests, compelling Amazon to provide audio files collected by Alexa on the night of the alleged murder.

According to experts, the Echo device – which responds to the wake word, “Alexa,” much like Apple’s “Hey Siri” – is “always listening” and thus may contain evidence relevant to the trial. The request for the audio files was granted after the witness recalled the three playing music from the device that night. Since the music can stop playing when the device hears “Alexa, stop,” it needs to be listening at all times.

Amazon’s Echo device debuted in 2014 and is designed to respond to verbal commands. Some of its abilities include playing music, controlling lights and appliances within the home, reading news, weather, and reciting emails and messages.

Amazon issued a short statement insuring customer privacy while expressing their opposition to “overbroad” use by the courts:

“Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

Bates was charged with murder in 2015 after his friend and former Georgia police officer Victor Collins was found face down in Bates’ hot tub. Collins was apparently found the morning after Bates invited him and one other friend over for a night of drinking and watching football. Bates was arrested on Feb 22, 2015, after the Bettonville authorities received a probable cause affidavit.

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