Convicted murderer gets new trial after computer virus destroys data

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

It seems like the plot twist in a bad TV show – but it’s true. A computer virus infection has helped a convicted killer get a new trial.

In July 2009, a Miami jury convicted Randy Chaviano, of Hialeah, Florida, of second degree murder.

Many might have thought it was the end of story when, after an eight day trial, Chaviano was given a life sentence for the shooting of Carlos Acosta.

But when the courts recently investigated whether Chaviano had grounds to appeal his conviction, it was discovered that no legal record of the trial could be found – giving the Third District Court of Appeal no choice but to throw out the conviction and grant Chaviano a new trial.

Stenographers at trials normally record proceedings on both paper and an internal disk. You’ve probably seen them busy at work, tapping wildly in the corner of the shot if you’ve ever seen a courtroom melodrama.

But Terlesa Cowart, the stenographer at Chaviano’s 2009 trial, had not brought enough rolls of paper…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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