Why Flexin’ On The Gram Is A Bad Idea

SOHH, before flexin’ on the ’Gram, such as someone holding money to their ear with friends tagging along on the Benz wagon all flashy and braggin’, but —  technologically speaking, people are dry snitchin’ on themselves, here’s why.

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Digital Evidence Contributed To Convictions

The XXXTentacion murder trial featured cell phone data and social media as digital evidence and was deemed admissible in court. The three men were found guilty on March 20 for the botched robbery turned murder of the late Florida rapper. 

The technology and digital evidence presented during the trial played a role in the prosecution’s case. Both contributed to the conviction of XXXTentacion’s killers, Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams, and Trayvon Newsome, facing life in prison.

Did They Do It For The Gram?

These men left a digital trail that was analyzed and used in the entire legal proceeding by digital forensics examiners. One of the detectives, James Kempvanee, a Broward Sheriff’s Office digital forensic examiner testified and said one of the photos was taken on June 18, 2018, the day XXXtentacion, who was 20 years old, was murdered. 

Kempvanee said a photo captured at Robert Allen’s home was a picture of  XXXTentacion’s cash taken at 10:15 p.m. hours after they ambushed, robbed, and killed XXX outside of RIVA Motorsports.

Besides the photos, John Curcio, one of the lead detectives, also testified on the phone’s GPS evidence presented in the courtroom.

On the final days of deliberations, the jury also requested to see the digital evidence again. By March 13, the jurors convened around a projector screen to examine approximately 12,000 text messages, numerous videos, and photographs that were confiscated from two cell phones.

These items included timestamps, location data, and metadata, and were presented to the jurors upon their request to review the evidence. 

The photos and videos in question were retrieved from the cell phones of the suspected shooter, Michael Boatwright, and the alleged getaway driver, Dedrick Williams. 

Notably, the visual evidence revealed both men displaying large sums of $100 bills shortly after the robbery, shooting, and subsequent murder of the victim, XXX.

Everything Leads Back To Cell Phones

In a “fomo” social media society, phones are at the epicenter of it all, as they provide valuable evidence in cases where other forms of evidence may be lacking or inconclusive. 

In a post, XXXTentacion trial wrap-up with SOHH editors, Afi Patterson, a Los Angeles-based attorney, pointed out that metadata like cell phone data and social media has provided valuable evidence in cases where other forms of evidence may be lacking or inconclusive. Patterson also said that the usage of this data has been in place for the last 15 years and is not a new procedure.

Digital data is also used in the event there are no other witnesses to testify on a crime or event. The phone data is used to present an objective record of what happened.

What Can Be Used As Evidence In Court?

Technology that every day people use daily can be deemed admissible in court as digital evidence. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s dive into all the  —

 Social Media Posts

Law enforcement agencies are relying on digital data as evidence in criminal investigations and their first look seems to be social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram including LinkedIn have become such an integral aspect of people’s lives that their posts have been presented in court as evidence.

Text Messages & DMs

Sliding into DMs may be a thing but if found to be evidence, it can be used in court. That includes Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and everything in between. It’s the same for text messages and instant messages in other apps like Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp

Disgraced rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was convicted of racketeering and other charges related to his involvement with the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang. 

Prosecutors, during the trial used evidence from social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter, as well as text messages and phone calls to support the state’s case. 6ix9ine was released from jail in August 2020 and served eight months of a 24-month sentence.

GPS Tracking

GPS tracking data is used to track an individual’s movements and location. In the XXX murder trial, digital forensics detectives showed the phone arriving and leaving the crime scene. And used it as evidence in court.

Lil Durk was charged with criminal intent to commit murder, attempted murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and other offenses in connection with a shooting in Chicago in 2014.

The GPS data indicated the location of Durk’s phone at the time of the shooting, as well as calls and texts between Lil Durk and his co-defendants before and after the shooting.

Surveillance Footage

The use of surveillance cameras in public and private spaces, surveillance footage can be used as evidence in court. In the XXX murder trial, the jury got a glimpse of surveillance footage inside the RIVA Motorsport moments before the attack.

Julez Santana’s 2018 Gun Charges

Juelz Santana pled guilty to firearm charges at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2018. During the trial, prosecutors used footage from surveillance cameras from the airport to support their case.

The footage presented in court showed  Santana running from security personnel and abandoning a bag that contained a loaded handgun and drugs.

Lil Wayne’s 2007 Gun Charges

Lil Wayne was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in New York City in connection to a gun that was found on his tour bus in Manhattan in 2007. 

During the trial, prosecutors used video footage from a security camera that displayed Lil Wayne holding a gun on the day he was arrested. The video evidence prompted Lil Wayne to ultimately plead guilty to the charges.

Wayne served eight months of a one-year sentence at Rikers Island jail in New York. Lil Wayne also had felony drug charges from a 2006 Georgia case dropped in 2009 due to unauthorized searches by authorities.