Computer Virus Forces Court to Give Convicted Murderer a Second Chance

It's almost like the initial trial never existed

In times where every single task is based on computers, a virus could be more than enough to give a convict a second chance.

After being convicted of second degree murder, Randy Chaviano, a Florida man, wanted to appeal his conviction, but to the court’s surprise the legal records of the initial trial could not be found, Graham Cluley reports.

It turns out that a computer virus’ destructive actions now force the Third District Court of Appeal to grant Chaviano a new trial.

So how could this happen, you may wonder?

The court stenographer that recorded the proceedings at the trial copied all the data onto her computer which mysteriously got infected with an unknown virus that somehow deleted all the legal records.

The trial that took place in 2009 should have been recorded both on paper and on the stenograph’s internal memory, but since the stenographer, Terlesa Cowart, didn’t bring enough paper for the machine, at one point she was forced to record the details only on the device’s storage unit.

When the trial ended, Cowart copied the data to her PC and removed it from the stenograph. Without a backup copy you can imagine that it’s not hard for even a simple virus to corrupt files, making them useless.

While this may seem like a malicious plot set up by the convict’s hacker friends (assuming he has any), what we’re dealing with is more likely an unfortunate incident that’s not very difficult to prevent.

“It seems very sloppy to allow the only record of a trial's proceedings to be held on an individual's PC - it's like asking for trouble if it isn't at the very least held securely as a backup elsewhere,” Cluley reports.

“It's claimed that stenographers in Florida have been resisting moves to replace them with digital recorders. Goofs like the one made by Terlesa Cowart are not going to do anything to help their argument.”

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