Porter seeks help with electronic evidence

Danny Porter

Danny Porter

LAWRENCEVILLE — Electronic evidence has been key in solving the murders of two teenagers this year, District Attorney Danny Porter said. So Wednesday, he asked officials for more resources to help use the technology to prosecute criminals.

“We believe this evidence is going to play a critical part,” in the trial that begins next month involving the death of 15-year-old Nick Jackson, who was killed in a home invasion in Norcross, Porter said during the first day of 2014 budget hearings for the county government. “Gwinnett County is on the cutting edge of using technology to solve serious crimes.”

For years, the district attorney’s office has used warrants to get electronic data from cellphone companies, including text messages, cell tower signal tracking, emails and other information.

It helped link the brutal 2011 robbery of a Tara Fine Jewelry in Buford to a crime ringleader controlling the operation from a cell phone while in prison.

In 2008, the office had 132 requests for data, while this year it is on track to have more than 1,000.

With the successful conviction related to the 2008 death of a disabled Ethiopian businessman and key evidence found in the death of Grayson teen Paul Sampleton last year, Porter is hoping to hire an investigation legal coordinator to help in the pursuit of the data.

Porter said he knows federal officials are taking heat for electronic surveillance of cell phone data, but he points out that all of the county’s pursuits of the information have come through warrants and other legal means.