Was Siri an Accomplice to Murder?

Luke Peters demonstrates Siri, an application which uses voice recognition and detection on the iPhone 4S in London, October 14, 2011. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

Two years ago, if you’d asked your digital assistant friend Siri “where can I hide a body?” she would have jokingly offered a range of alarmingly helpful options such as “dumpster” or “marsh.” After all, people who ask Siri to help them in a murder are just pranking, right?

Not all of them, perhaps. Pedro Bravo, a 20-year-old Florida resident, is accused of murdering a friend, University of Florida student Christian Aguilar, and dumping his body in the woods. Prosecutors say that he consulted Siri for advice, saying: “I need to hide my roommate." The digital assistant then replied, “What kind of place are you looking for?” and then suggested “swamps, reservoirs, metal foundries and dumps” as options.

Bravo’s trial began last week and is expected to continue through the end of this week. He is pleading not guilty, and says he only beat Aguilar.

Authorities say Bravo killed Aguilar out of jealousy. On September 20, 2012, the pair were on their way back from Best Buy, where they had purchased a Kanye West CD. The two had a fight in the car over Aguilar dating Bravo’s ex-girlfriend from high school. He reportedly drugged and strangled Aguilar in a Walmart parking lot, then hid the body in nearby woods. Shortly after, Hunters found Aguilar’s body in a shallow grave. Bravo was charged with murder on September 28, 2012.

Evidence drawn from Bravo’s phone, including his Siri query, was presented at his trial on Tuesday. Records show that he used the phone’s flashlight nine times over the course of 30 minutes, from 11:31 p.m. to 12:01 a.m., the night Aguilar went missing. Police suspect he used the flashlight while hiding Aguilar’s body. CBS reports that police tracked Bravo's locations that night by pursuing the multiple locator "pings" on his cell phone. Police said that Bravo's cell phone locations that night don't correlate with where he said he was. 

Update at 2:42 p.m.: The Gainseville Police Department tweeted that Detective Matt Goeckel did not testify about Bravo's Siri search in the trial. Reporters at the trial noted that Siri is only available on operating systems in the iPhone 4S and beyond, while Bravo had an iPhone 4. Bravo's lawyer claimed that the Siri query could have been searched by someone else, as the screen grab was among hundreds of other photos found on his smartphone.