Friday, March 16, 2007

Cop: Wife googled 'How to commit murder'

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

At exactly 5:45:34 on April 18, 2004 a computer taken from the office of the attorney of Melanie McGuire, did a search on the words "How To Commit Murder."That same day searches on Google and MSN search engines, were conducted on such topics as `instant poisons,` `undetectable poisons,' 'fatal digoxin doses,' and gun laws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Ten days later, according to allegations by the state of New Jersey, McGuire murdered her husband, William T. McGuire, at their Woodbridge apartment, using a gun obtained in Pennsylvania, one day after obtaining a prescription for a sedative known as the "date rape" drug.

Jennifer Seymour, who worked for the State Police digital technology unit, testified thismorning how she examined the digital contents of computers and hand held devices obtained as part of the investigation.

Her testimony was the strongest evidence yet in the state's circumstantial evidence case against the 34-year-old McGuire, who allegedly murdered her husband with a .38 caliber weapon, dismembered his body and placed body parts in three suitcases found in the Chesapeake Bay in May of 2004.

While the jury has yet to see any fingerprint, blood or DNA evidence in the case, the evidence presented by Seymour illustrated how computers can be a valuable investigation tool.

Seymour was still being questioned by Assistant Attorney General Patricia Prezioso when Superior Court Judge Frederick De Vesa gave the jury its lunch break. Testimony was scheduled to resume at 1:45 p.m.

Seymour, now employed by the U.S. Department of Defense, testified how digital investigators can trace activity on a computer, including information the user has deleted.

She testified that she isolated data that was accessed in the weeks leading up to the murder, by inserting the keyword "search," which showed activity by Google and MSN search engines, with the searches center-ing on poisons and gun laws.

The murder took place the same day, according to allegations by the state, that a two-ounce prescription of chloral hydrate was purchased at a Walgreen's in Edison.

A search on April 26, 2004 of the computer seized by the state found that the user accessed the site

On Monday Yan Kim Lee, a pharmacist at the Walgreen's on New Durham Road in Edison, testified that on the morning of April 28 she filled a prescription for chloral hydrate for a woman named Tiffany Bain, on script signed by Dr. Bradley Miller of Reproductive Medicine Associates in Morristown.

Melanie McGuire worked at the RMA office as a nurse, and at the time of her husband's death she was having an affair with Miller.

Lee testified that she typically fills only about three or four prescriptions annually for chloral hydrate.

In her testimony Seymour said she was able to trace e-mails on Hotmail accounts allegedly used by McGuire and Miller. She said the e-mails seemed to indicate the two had a romantic relation-ship, with such phrases as "I love you," and "I miss you."

Seymour said that on Sept. 8, 2005, the State Police obtained eight computers, three laptops and eight hand-held devices as part of the murder investigation.

In her testimony today, she said she examined the contents of a computer obtained at the office of McGuire's attorney, though she did not identify the name of the attorney. She also said she tested a home computer used by the Woodbridge couple, and a home computer used by her parents, who now live in Barnegat.

The HP Pavilion computer obtained from McGuire's attorney's office had a 60 gigabyte hard drive, and not all of it was searched by Seymour.

She told the jury that it is known in the computer industry that if information stored on a 12 gigabyte computer was put on paper it would create a stack of paper higher than the Empire State Building.

The first person to testify Tuesday was David A. Barron, a forensics examiner for the state of Virginia, who participated in the initial murder investigation.

Barron testified that he did not examine William McGuire's re-mains for chloral hydrate. He said his office no longer has the samples it used to test for alcohol and certain drugs.

"The protocol is once we complete our testing we submit it to the investigating agency," he said. "My understanding is that it has been destroyed."

Under cross examination by defense attorney Stephen Turano, Barron said no test for chloral hydrate was done on the remains.

When asked by Prezioso if it is routine in autopsies to test for "every substance known to man-kind," Barron said, "We could do a research project on any case we receive, but we don't have the manpower."

The state's second witness, Donna Todd, the director of the Kinder Castle daycare center in Metuchen where the McGuire's 4-year-old son was enrolled, testified for the state about the child's attendance record on April 28, 2004, the day the state alleges the murder take place.

On cross examination by Joseph Tacopina she also testified about his attendance on April 29. Ac-cording to her records the boy arrived at the daycare center at 8:30 a.m.

Todd told the jury that Melanie McGuire explained to her that she was obtaining a temporary restraining order against her husband, and told her about a fight the night before that ended when William stuffed a dryer cloth into her mouth.

Tacopina asked Todd if McGuire looked "upset or crazed."

"She did look upset," said Todd.

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