Julie Amero Update: March 1st

by Karoli on March 1, 2007 · 300 comments

I’ve been swamped getting ready to go on vacation later this week, but there were some interesting posts around the web today that I wanted to link up before getting off to bed.

From Crime & Federalism:

W. Herbert Horner, a defense witness and computer expert, was
prepared to testify that the images appeared on the screen as a result
of the acts of others. However, the trial court judge, Hillary
Strackbein, did not permit him to offer his opinion. Why? He was not
disclosed as an expert in a timely fashion.

Judge Strackbein’s ruling may well be an abuse of discretion.
Ordinarily, the defense need not disclose witnesses prior to trial.
Indeed, in one recent case regarding the late disclosure of an alibi,
the Appellate Court ruled it was an abuse of discretion to refuse to
permit the witness to testify.

BoingBoing has an opinion about the juror who spoke out last week claiming that “it was obvious that the pages were clicked on they were not the result of pop-ups”.

That statement is in direct conflict with the testimony on record. Amero
did everything short of turning off the computer, which she was
instructed by a superior not to do. The children from her class
testified — right in front of this juror — that she did make every
effort to hide what was being displayed.
He also seems to have
picked up the same in-depth knowledge of Internet Explorer possessed by
the Norwich police computer expert, which could be defined as; little
to none.

Fred’s obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed but, can you
blame him? After all, he’s a product of the same Connecticut school
system that’s teaching kids it’s OK to send an innocent woman to jail
in order to cover your own incompetence.

Bingo.

downloadsquad.com links up to the Steve Bass’s column quoting Norwich Detective Mark Lounsbury, the Norwich Police Department’s very own IT expert.  He says:

Dear Mr. Bass, Unfortunately the truth in this matter is
yet to be told to all those who were not located in the courtroom
during the trial. Those in the courtroom saw and heard the truth. Once
sentencing is done the truth CAN BE presented to the world IF they want
it. I’m thinking the world doesn’t want to hear the truth. IGNORANCE IS
BLISS. The lies are exciting, bringing up STRONG emotions. OMG, that
poor person, victimized by the Evil Government and its minions.

It continues to amaze me how people can base their opinion on what is fed
to them. Did anyone ask the Expert for the evidence he recovered which
would support his claims? The “curlyhairstye script”, those
pornographic googlesyndication.com generated pop ups? BUNK also known
as errors of commission. Would you like to know the truth? Once
sentencing is over I’d be more than happy to let you see the source
code, scripts, etc.

I’ve received allot of calls and emails regarding this. All from people interested
only in TELLING me their opinions or TELLING me they’re going to get
me. Not once has anyone called or written me to ASK me a question. They
apparently have what they want. I work hard every day for the victims
of crime. I search for the truth not for me but for them. If what the
newspaper reported about my testimony was my actual testimony, taken in
context, don’t you think there would have been some consequences, a
rebuttal, something.

Feel free to write if you wish.

Mark Lounsbury

When Steve Bass took him up on his invitation and sent back a list of questions, he received this reply:

Dear Mr. Bass, Once the sentencing phase for this case is
done I can answer all your questions. I have all the information you
seek. My opinion is not important but I am fleshing out a theory
concerning site blocking software which was in place and how to
circumvent it. I can provide you w/ the source code showing all the
.htm and javascripting for each web page, images from those pages,
date/time of creation, MD5 hashes, etc. I will contact you after
sentencing. Thank you,

Mark Lounsbury

Okay, I’m no expert in the area of “source code showing all the .htm and javascripting for each web page, images, etc.” and I’m especially not an expert in the area of MD5 hashes (though I’ve read that they tell exactly nothing), so if anyone wants to weigh in with a deeper explanation of what Det. Lounsbury expects to prove with this evidence, bring it on in the comments.

But one thing does keep coming back to  me over and over.  The jury never really saw what Julie Amero saw.  They never got a sense of the rapidity of the popups.  Anyone who’s ever been in a mousetrap or porn storm knows that those windows just flood — they popup fast and furious.  The jury really never got a sense of what it must have been like to be minding a classroom full of smartass seventh graders while being confronted with a screen full of unwanted and likely illegal popups, unable to leave the room and believing that she couldn’t turn off the computer.

Here’s something else:  That computer was used for attendance for each class.  If she had turned it off, what would have become of the attendance reports? She knows she has to stay logged on, doesn’t realize that turning off the monitor won’t turn off the computer (that’s something that surprised my mother not too long ago, too, and she’s been using computers for years), so she does the only thing she can do — she places herself physically between the kids and the screen.

One other thought on this and then I’ll move on — One of the kids said she was “scrolling up and down” on the window.  That supports the mousetrap/porn storm because the windows cascade.  So as she closes one, there’s cascading popups down the screen, which from a distance, would give the impression of “scrolling up and down”.  I sure wish that they’d actually tested what these kids could see from a distance, too.  It was just taken as a given that they could view the detail on the screen as well as they did without any challenge.  I’m not advocating verbal lashings on cross-examination, but I don’t take the word of a teenager at face value without at least testing it against reality.  Yet it went unchallenged that they could actually see the detail they saw (like they couldn’t have gone and figured it out later or hadn’t seen it before…)

Didn’t Julie Amero have the right to a reasonable expectation that the filters the school had put in place were operational?  So imagine being her, sitting at the teacher’s desk confronted with window after window after window, some horrible, some not so bad, and wondering what the heck was happening to a computer that was supposedly protected and thinking she had no clue what she did to trigger it or how to stop it.  It’s appalling to think that there wasn’t much more emphasis placed on the failure of Robert Hartz to get that filter updated or else disconnect the computers from the Internet until it was.  Yet the transcripts are clear that he didn’t even realize it wasn’t working until they went to investigate the complaints.

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