The FBI will assist in unlocking an iPhone and an iPod connected to a murder case in Arkansas, the Associated Press reports, just a few days after the Bureau announced it had accessed the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters without Apple’s help. The FBI agreed to a request from prosecuting attorney Cody Hiland in the case against 18-year-old Hunter Drexler on Wednesday afternoon, a short time after the presiding judge agreed to delay the trial until June to accommodate the process.
Drexler and a 15-year-old boy called Justin Staton stand accused of murdering Robert and Patricia Cogdell last July. Both plead not guilty, and Drexler’s attorney, Patrick Benca, said he and his client were ” not concerned about anything on that phone,” but but prosecutors say that recorded phone conversations indicate Staton used the iPod in question to plan the murders.
PROSECUTORS SAY THE IPOD WAS USED TO PLAN THE MURDERS
The development comes after lengthy legal battle with Apple during which the FBI attempted to compel the company to help it bypass the encryption on the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. It’s not clear whether prosecutors in this case aim to bypass similar encryption in Drexler’s case, but the fact prosecutors asked for the FBI’s help indicates it may — Apple has regularly helped authorities extract information in the past, balking only in the San Bernardino case because it involved breaking its newest encryption methods. The FBI originally argued that if Apple complied and helped it access Farook’s phone, it would not use the method again, but in figuring out another way into the device the FBI can now theoretically help unlock other iPhones of the same family, up to and including the 5S.