Usually, when we see Facebook and arrest in a story, the story is filed under The World’s Dumbest Criminals. Like the guy that made fun of his DUI charges by posting pictures of himself in a jailbird costume. Or the burglar who logged into his Facebook account at the victim’s home. Or the woman who violated a restraining order by poking her victim.
But this time, Facebook is finally saving someone’s bacon. Or, oddly enough, his pancakes. As the New York Times says,
The message on Rodney Bradford’s Facebook page, posted at 11:49 a.m. on Oct. 17, asked where his pancakes were. The words were typed from a computer in his father’s apartment in Harlem.
At the time, the sentence, written in street slang, was just another navel-gazing, cryptic Facebook status update — meaningless to anyone besides Mr. Bradford. But when Mr. Bradford, 19, was arrested the next day as a suspect in a robbery at the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn, where he lives, the words took on greater importance. They became his alibi.
One minute after his status update, someone in Brooklyn was mugged. The article isn’t exactly clear on how Bradford was named as a suspect in the mugging, but he was arrested for the crime, even though his father and step-mother both said he was with them in Harlem (and Harlem != Brooklyn, if you’re not familiar with NYC).
When Bradford’s lawyer told the Brooklyn DA about the status update, the DA’s office subpoenaed Facebook’s records to verify that he wasn’t at the scene of the crime. The IP address resolved to Bradford’s father’s home—and the charges against Bradford were dropped.
The ADA realizes that anyone with his username and password could have posted the status update, but, as Bradford’s lawyer says, “This implies a level of criminal genius that you would not expect from a young boy like this; he is not Dr. Evil.”
So it just goes to show: maybe all those pointless status updates aren’t so pointless after all.
What do you think? Can status updates (with IP records) be taken as legal alibis?