EXCLUSIVE: News 12 uncovers ‘questionable’ AI evidence used by state police to make arrest in Megan McDonald murder case

News 12 has obtained communication between a state police investigator and CyberCheck’s founder showing they knew Orange County prosecutors had concerns about the evidence.

Blaise Gomez

Jun 27, 2024, 8:57 PM

Updated 26 days ago

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News 12 has learned that a piece of key evidence linking Edward Holley to the murder of Megan McDonald may not be able to be used in court. State police cited in the 2023 criminal complaint against Holley that they used a start-up AI company called “CyberCheck” to link the longtime suspect to the 2003 Town of Wallkill murder.
Since then, CyberCheck has come under scrutiny for allegedly falsifying evidence and its owner, Adam Mosher, has been accused out-of-state of perjury.
Holley’s attorney says state police didn’t do their homework and jumped the gun when they charged Holley, who was McDonald's ex-boyfriend at the time of her death. “Five minutes of an investigation on the Internet and state police would’ve known that this guy has a questionable product,” says Paul Weber. “It’s almost like a hired gun.”
News 12 has obtained communication between a state police investigator and CyberCheck’s founder showing they knew Orange County prosecutors had concerns about the evidence.
According to the company’s website, it “revolutionizes traditional investigative methods” with “advanced machine learning algorithms by delving into extensive open-source data – including location modeling, digital footprints, anomaly recognition and recognition and mobile signals.”
An official source, who spoke to News 12 under the condition of anonymity, says the company’s technology uses the “dark web” and is based out of Russia. They also said the technology wouldn’t apply to a case from 20 years ago when cellphone data and a person’s digital footprint were much different than it is now.
News 12 checked in with former upstate prosecutor and Syracuse Law professor Rick Trunfio about how this could impact Holley’s case.
“It’s not reliable. It’s not been peer reviewed but they used it anyway,” says Trunfio. It’s caused problems with cases all over the country.”
Trunfio says the evidence will likely never be able to be used.
“It’s really mind-boggling to me that investigators make a decision and kind of overrule a district attorney’s opinion about the admissibility of evidence,” Trunfio says, “You have to scratch your head and say, ‘why did you do that?’”
The special prosecutor assigned to the case, Julia Cornachio, tells News 12 that she has "not relied" on CyberCheck evidence to date.
Holley’s attorney says he’s filed a motion for a change of venue because state police have “flooded the Orange County area with misleading information and polluted the potential jury pool.” He also says he would fight any CyberCheck data from being used at trial, should the prosecution's strategy change.
State police declined to comment about their use of CyberCheck in the Holley case and wouldn’t reveal if they’ve used the A-I company in anyother cases.
News 12 reached out to the company and the McDonald family attorney for comment but haven’t heard back.


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