Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Email = Acquittal?

Outside the courtroom last Thursday, accused killer Joe Kerekes told reporters that ‘an expert’ would prove that he was nowhere near Bryan Kocis’ house on the night Kocis died. Presumably, he’s talking about a computer expert to go through the info about who logged in where, for how long, and what they did online at the time.

Kerekes says it was Harlow Cuadra who made the trip to Back Mountain to meet Kocis, alone.

This isn't the first time Kerekes has said that his computer will exonerate him. Last month, he told the Times Leader that email records "will show I was at the [I]nn.”

It will definitely take an expert to prove that; the specifics of this particular gambit are terribly complex. Summoning up the best of our meagre geek skills, here’s what we’ve found out so far....

A call to the Fox Ridge Inn confirms that the motel does not offer Internet access to its guests. That means if Joe wanted to go online, he almost certainly had to connect using the couple’s wireless aircard.

There are three ways that could have happened: either via a local Wi-Fi source, a cellular tower, or through 3G Wireless Broadband.

First, let's talk 3G Wireless Broadband. Only one provider claims to offer access in the Wilkes-Barre region, and that's AT&T. But AT&T doesn't have 3G access coverage in the immediate area of Bryan Kocis' house.

That means that if Joe was in that particular area, the 3G option wouldn't work. See below... the 3G coverage area is shown in blue.

However, take a look at the shades of orange. In those spots, Kerekes could have connected via AT&T's Edge coverage. Told you it was complicated.

Just to make things more interesting, Verizon doesn't offer local broadband access in and around Wilkes-Barre , but they do offer NationalAccess throughout the area, including Kocis' house:

Sprint doesn't provide local wireless broadband access either, but they do offer wireless Internet via their National Network, which also covers the area around the house.

To raise this maneuver’s degree-of-difficulty, there's also a free Wi-Fi Hotspot a few thousand feet from Kocis' front door:

So Joe had a few options if he chose to log-in from, say, the front seat of the SUV in Kocis’ driveway. This information also confirms that Joe could have been just about anywhere when he sent (or received) that fateful Yahoo e-mail shortly before the murder.

The question is whether or not the technology is there for police (or better geeks) to tell us where Joe was.... That is, if it was Joe.

See why the experts get paid good money?

- Both PC and KM contributed to this story.