Not What It Seems: All Charges Dropped
Donald Wing and his wife Alana (not their real names) were charged in Martin County with Second Degree Arson and Burning to Defraud Insurer. The investigator for the Florida Division of Financial Services (DFS) claimed that Donald and Alana burned their 2017 Infiniti QX70 on 3/24/19.
The DFS investigator collected cell phone data from cell phone carrier which purportedly showed “GPS” data. Attorney Garland consulted with a cell phone expert before deposing the DFS investigator. Attorney Garland learned the supposed “GPS” data was not connected at all with the global positioning system most people think about when they hear the term “GPS”.
Instead, the ATT cell phone records used the NELOS system. This system is supposed to estimate a longitude and latitude location for a cell phone. However, the system is scientifically flawed and does not survive a Daubert examination.
During his deposition the DFS investigator admitted that he did not know how ATT kept its records or calculated the longitude and latitude. He admitted that he did not know what the ATT system was based on.
The DFS investigator’s deposition was concluded on 11/12/21. The prosecutor dropped all charges on 11/23/21.
Expert witnesses are often essential to the proper understanding of data that prosecutors seek to reply on. In this case, it became clear that the ATT records were misleading and scientifically unsound to the extent that they purported to establish a precise longitude and latitude location for a cell phone at any particular time. In the absence of other sufficient evidence, the prosecutor was left with nothing to prove the charges. The prosecutor wisely elected to drop the charges against both Donald and Alana when the predicate for the prosecution evaporated.
Attorney for Donald: Jeffrey H. Garland
Attorney for Alana: Jeff Gorman