An Apple watch has helped provide vital information in an Australian murder case, contradicting the story told by an alleged victim who may turn out to be the murderer.
In September last year Myrna Nilsson, 57, was found dead in her home in Adelaide.
Her body was discovered after her daughter-in-law, Caroline Dela Rose Nilsson, left the house at 10pm local time wearing a gag and appearing to be in a state of distress. A neighbor spotted her and called the police.
She told police at the time that Nilsson had been followed home by a group of men in a truck, ABC News Australia reports. According to Caroline's version of events, the attackers argued with Myrna outside the house for around 20 minutes before the attack. She explained she had not heard the attack as she was in her kitchen at the time, and was tied up by the attackers shortly afterward.
However, after accessing data from the victim's smartwatch, police were able to find major flaws in Caroline's story.
Prosecutors have charged Caroline with the murder of her mother-in-law after analyzing the smartwatch and pinning down the time of the attack and death to a seven-minute window.
The prosecutor, Carmen Matteo, told a magistrates court that the data from the health app on Myrna's iWatch showed a spike in heavy activity at 6.38pm, just as she would have arrived home.
“The prosecution accumulates those timings and the information about energy levels, movement, heart rate, to lead to a conclusion that the deceased must have been attacked at around 6.38pm and had certainly died by 6.45pm,” Matteo told the court, according to News.com.au.
This is inconsistent with Caroline's "false" story that the victim had argued with attackers for around 20 minutes. As she didn't emerge from the house until after 10pm, they say that this gave Caroline enough time to stage being tied up and discard of any bloodied clothes.
"This defendant did not foresee that the police would be able to discern time of death and other information from [the watch]," Matteo said.
The police were unable to find DNA evidence of attackers within the home that would support Caroline's version of events, and the neighbor reports that they hadn't seen a truck outside the front of the house.
The case is ongoing, and will next come to court in June.
This isn't the first time evidence from a fitness app has been used in court. An alleged murderer in Germany may have been caught out by the health app on his own phone. Activity from his tracker showed he was undertaking activity levels consistent with moving a body, at the time he was alleged to be moving his victim.