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Man who slowly poisoned his wife with antifreeze gets to remain in prison the rest of his life

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that evidence on a man's laptop that he'd done extensive online research about how to kill somebody with antifreeze was obtained lawfully and so upheld his life sentence for murdering his wife to collect on her life-insurance policy.

James Keown's lawyer had argued his 2008 sentence should be overturned in part because investigators had no right to search his laptop.

The state's highest court disagreed, saying police had probable cause to search his laptop because he was a Web designer who knew his way around computers, they had evidence he'd managed to forge documents to convince his boss in Ohio to let him move here based on his non-existent acceptance to the Harvard Business School and because before her death, his wife had suffered medical problems consistent with slow ingestion of ethylene glycol - which he'd mixed with the Gatorade he insisted she drink.

Here, the affidavit drew sufficient nexus between the suspected criminal activity and the items sought by the warrant. First, the affidavit established the defendant's sophistication with computers by noting he had been employed as a Web designer. The affidavit also established that the defendant had forged contracts and documents from Harvard Business School, based on the affiant's [police detective's] conversation with the defendant's former boss. One could reasonably infer that he created these forgeries by using a computer. ... Second, these forgeries relate specifically to the motive alleged in the affidavit: that the defendant had been lying to his wife about his accomplishments and their finances and killed her to prevent her from finding out about these deceits and to obtain her life insurance benefits. Third, the affidavit specified that the victim had died from EG poisoning, which the affiant noted, based on his nearly twenty years of investigatory experience, would likely have involved research that a computer savvy person like the defendant would have conducted online in 2004. Accordingly, the connection between the search of the computer and the suspected criminal activity was sufficient.

The justices added investigators took care to limit what they searched on the laptop - only some 325 files out of roughly 400,000 on the computer.

Free tagging: 
PDF icon Complete Keown ruling191.01 KB

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Like that guy who took his mom offshore fishing and she accidentally never came back. Not a lot of witnesses 90 miles out to sea.

Glad to see this guy won't be out anytime soon at least.

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... that I've always had really really good radar for charmer/seducer types. They make my skin crawl - too many promises, too much sleaze.

I refused to go to church as a kid when my family's church had one take over. Turned out my instincts were right: left two women pregnant from adulterous relationships and took all the money a couple years later.

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But that's exactly what the guy's attorney did.

This was an issue that should have been raised during the original trial, not a basis for a "we lost, so give us a do-over" appeal.

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The SJC AUTOMATICALLY reviews all life sentences .

This appeal is NOT due to "fishing expeditions". This appeal was AUTOMATIC and the lawyers rightfully included this concern for that AUTOMATIC review.

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Because, yes, it often comes up (and yes, even if review weren't automatic, it's not like our justice system is 100% correct the first time, every time - there's a reason we have an appellate system).

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Adam, not on you - people should already be aware of that

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