Virus Gets Convicted Murderer a New Trial
Article by George Norman
On 05 Jan 2012
This is proof that there are a lot of threats on the web and the perfect example of why you should use a properly good security solution to secure your data against viruses and other malware: a convicted murderer got a new trial because a virus infection lead to the loss of records of the trial.

Back in July 2009, after an 8-day trial, Randy Chaviano of Hialeh, Florida, was convicted by a Miami jury of second degree murder (he shot Carlos Acost at his Hialeah duplex; Chaviano’s lawyer says it was self-defence) and was sentenced to life in prison. How did Chaviano get a new trial then? When he filed for an appeal, the Third District Court of Appeal was amazed to find out that there are no records of Chaviano’s trial.


The Third District Court of Appeal had to check if Chaviano had any grounds for the appeal. When the legal records of Chaviano’s trial could not be found, the court had to throw out the initial conviction and grant Chaviano a new trial. Who is to blame for the disappearance of the records? Terlesa Cowart, the stenographer at Chaviano's 2009 trial, who has since then been fired, is to blame.

Stenographers record legal proceedings on paper and the internal disk of their machines. But at Chaviano’s trial, the stenographer ran out of paper – according to her former employer, Cowart had a habit of not bringing enough rolls of paper with her. So with no paper, she recorded the proceedings on the machine’s internal memory. She then transferred the data from the machine to her computer; and deleted it from the machine. The problem is that Cowart’s PC got infected with a virus and the legal records stored on it were lost.

Here is what Senior Technology Consultant with security company Sophos, Graham Cluley, had to say about this whole thing:
“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.”

It is yet unclear what virus infected Cowart’s PC and how the virus infected it. All I have to say is that security should not be taken lightly and sensitive, important data should always be backed up.

Tags: Security
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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