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Amanda Howard Internet Case

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Introduction

The computer revolution has led to discovery of internet, a platform, where one can meet new people through the chat sites; thus, facilitating a creation of the new friendships with others, as well as sharing and exchanging his or her ideas. The main problem with this is that one is not well aware, who the person they have interacted with on the other side is. Internet may seem a good place to meet with other people but it has its dangers, since one doesn’t know who he/she is talking to on the other side; thus, it opens room for the predators, who are dangerous people with harmful intention to disguise themselves as someone else as is in the case of Amanda Howard, who unfortunately fell for a trap unknowingly. She’s a victim of a cyberspace revolution, as she was not knowing she had engaged into a conversation with someone, who pretended to be who she is not; in this case, Lauren M. Gash, who has only had bad intentions towards her (Moore, 2005).

The computer law that was violated in this case

The use of internet has led to the various computer crimes over the recent years. Computer crimes are the crimes or illegal activities made against a person or an organization, which occur either within a computer or within the internet; the result of the crimes may lead to danger or harm. In Amanda Howard’s case the computer crime committed is cyber stalking/harassment. This is a serious offence, as it leads predators or proprietors to cause harm to others in the real world; thus, the stalkers may cause harm like abuse, torture, or assault like in the case of Amanda.

This occurs when a person is befriending someone with bad intentions; one may not be aware at the time, like Amanda Howard in this particular case. She was not aware what Lauren M. Gash had planned for her, since she thought that Lauren had no bad intention until her overhead, Alisa D. Betts, asked Lauren M. Gash in the car how they were going to do it, and then she sensed there was danger, prompting her to take her phone to dial a number.

There is also harassment shown on how Lauren M. Gash had plotted to do to Amanda Howard by wanting to cut the baby out of the womb. Moreover, the evidence is supported by the way she handled her in the hotel, which clearly emphasizes harassment. They tied her up and also put cloths in her mouth in order to prevent her from calling out for help. Harassment is also shown when Lauren M. Gash tried so hard to snap Amanda Howard’s head with the intention of killing her.

How the crime scene was secured

It’s very important for a crime scene to be secured, as it ensures evidence or proof of the crime is not tampered with, as this evidence will be used in the court during a case. In Amanda Howard’s case the police arrived after Alisa D. Betts made the “911” alert phone call; thus, securing the scene. Then they asked Lauren M. Gash what was happening in the hotel room in order to ensure that nothing bad was actually happening. After one of the policemen took a close look on the room, he saw Amanda Howard all tied up prompting them to question and arrest Lauren M. Gash. They also found proof that there was indeed a crime taking place. When the police searched the room they found an insulin bottle, tape, scissors, fake birth certificate with the name Johnny Gash, and a rope. Another way of securing the crime scene is by removing the suspect and people in order to prevent the contamination of the room. Lauren M. Gash was arrested; thus, taken away for questioning, leaving the police to search the room for evidence, this shows that the scene was secured. 

How the evidence was collected

It’s important to collect evidence for the case as its proof of a crime; thus, the investigator and police assigned to the case should collect the evidence. In Amanda Howard’s case, the police found an insulin bottle, fake birth certificate, a rope, syringe, and a drop of cloth. They put the items collected in the scene in a bag, as the evidence that would be used in the case. By the use of technology the investigator and police can get the knowledge of everything that has led to the crime. The investigator, David Lohr, looked at the internet history to find evidence; he found out Lauren M. Gash was a troubled woman, through her many internet ads in different chat sites. In one site, namely Soulcysters.net, it showed that Gash was obsessed with pregnancy.

By also questioning the suspect and victims one can get answers on what has actually happened. When Lauren M. Gash and Alisa D. Betts were taken into custody they were questioned. Through this questioning their live testimony was proof enough for the crime. For example, when Alisa D. Betts confirmed to the police that they had really planned to kidnap Amanda Howard and cut the baby from her womb was enough of evidence; thus, it was collected by the police. The police have also collected evidence through witnesses. In this case, the witnesses were Lauren M. Gash’s father and sister, who had arrived at the hotel, as the police were bagging the evidence. They said that Gash had told them she had given birth to a baby by the name Johnny, which was on the fake certificate.

How the evidence was analyzed including the processes and what tools were used.

Analyzing evidence is highly important when trying to build a case or prosecution against someone, as it will act as an effective proof during the case. In Amanda Howard’s case there was a number of evidences collected. By analyzing the evidence one gets to know more about it. In the beginning the police searched the room and found wash cloths, scissors, fake birth certificates, syringe, insulin, and duct tape. This evidence was a proof of the crime scene, as they found Amanda Howard all tied up. This clearly states that the rope was used for tying up Amanda Howard in order to prevent her from running away or searching for help (Weitzer, 2003).

Also the wash cloth that the police had found in the hotel was put in Amanda Howard’s mouths in order to prevent her from calling for help or shouting, as Gash and Alisa D. Betts harassed her. It is also the same washcloth the police found her with in her mouth; thus, proving the serious evidence in the case. The duct tape found could have been meant to tie up Amanda Howard. The next item was the scissors taken from the crime scene, which could be meant for cutting the duct tape. The internet was also a part of evidence, as it showed that Lauren Gash was obsessed with wanting a child. This claim was proven by her posts in the chat site, soulcysters.net; thus, explaining her plan of kidnapping Amanda Howard and wanting to cut her womb to get the baby out. Also the internet showed she was lonely, looking for a soul mate; this could also have led to her wanting a baby, as babies are known to bring company and joy in someone’s life.

The forged birth certificate was a proof to the case, as Gash had planned to take the baby and name him Johnny. Last but not the least, Gash father’s and sister’s testimonies prove to be evidence in this case as well, as they said that Gash had earlier told them she had given birth to a child, which, to their shock, was not true, as Gash was not pregnant at all but intending to steal a baby. If this testimony is thoroughly analyzed, one would realize that Gash had intended to cut out the baby out of Amanda Howard’s womb. After her father and sister claimed the baby’s name was indeed Johnny, the same name that was on the fake copies of the birth certificate the police found in the hotel room (Weitzer, 2003).

A formal report

Amanda Howard met Lauren M. Gash in the online chat site, MySpace. Through their frequent conversation they opted to meet each other unknown to Amanda Howard, who was walking into a trap set up by Lauren M. Gash and her friend, Alisa D. Betts. They were planning to cut Amanda Howard’s baby out of her womb, but the police got there on time. There was a number of evidences collected from the crime scene that were effectively analyzed showing that Lauren M. Gash and Alisa D. Betts had intended on harming Amanda Howard.

First and foremost, the police found Amanda Howard all tied up in the hotel with washcloth in her mouth, clearly showing she was in danger and was held against her wish and commands; thus, making the actions of two other women a kidnap. Secondly, there was other evidences found in the hotel, namely, a rope, washcloth, duct tape, insulin and syringe, fake copies of birth certificate with the name of Johnny meaning this was a plan that Lauren M. Gash and her friend Alisa D. Betts had planned to execute. This evidence was well analyzed and the crime plot was discovered (Moore, 2005).

The ropes founds were analyzed and were found to be the ones used to tie up Amanda Howard to prevent her from escaping; they were the same ropes that the police found Amanda Howard tied up with, which clearly shows that Lauren M. Gash  and Alisa D. Betts had tied up Amanda Howard. The washcloth confiscated from the crime scene was another piece of evidence found at the scene of the crime. This evidence was meant to be used to cover Amanda Howard’s mouth to prevent her from shouting or screaming for help. When she got abducted, they put the washcloth in her mouth to prevent other people in the hotel from hearing the actions occurring in that room.

Thirdly, the duct tape found in the room was also intended for tying her up and the scissors were used to cut the duct tape. The scissors could have been meant to be used to cut the baby from the Amanda Howard’s womb. Fourthly, the internet provided an insight to this case as it showed that Lauren M. Gash was obsessed with pregnancy; thus, leading to kidnapping pregnant Amanda Howard for her unborn child.

One of the most important evidence was got from the witnesses: Lauren M. Gash’s father and sister. The policemen were the first ones to find Amanda Howard. Moreover, they were the ones, who were called to the crime scene after the 9-1-1 call. They found Amanda Howard all tied up and gagged prompting them to take Lauren M. Gash and Alisa D. Betts into custody for questioning; thus, there were certain witnesses to start up the case. Secondly, Lauren M. Gash father’s and sister’s testimonies of Lauren M. Gash communicating to them that she had given birth to a baby by the name Johnny, while in reality she had never been pregnant, show that the information was fabricated on purpose. Moreover, the fake copies of birth certificates that were found in the hotel room vividly show that the two women were indeed plotting to cut the baby from Amanda Howard’s womb and were going to name the baby Johnny.

Preparing for a deposition/trial

A deposition is words said out of court by a witness during an interrogation by an attorney before the trial in the presence of a court reporter, who records it. This testimony is recorded for future use as a reference during either further investigation or the trial. A deposition is mostly videotaped or written down in a form of transcript. Trials are more serious, as they take place mostly in the courtrooms; thereby, every piece of information said is critical and crucial in the court. It is important to be well prepared for a deposition/trial. During a deposition or trial one should be alert, as this enables him to clearly understand the question asked (Halder, 2001).

One should always be prepared for a trial to avoid mixing up in his/her testimony, as this will make the juror not be convinced by the testimony. During a deposition one should not be dishonest, as this would lead him or her to get into trouble with the law, as the deposed should not give false information and he or she would rather give truthful information. This also applies in trials. During a trial, appearance really matters. The way one presents himself/herself  in a trial is very important, as he or she can be judged from the way he/she is dressed. Therefore, one should be decently dressed instead of being overdressed. Mostly, one should avoid bright colors and instead go for the dull colors, like black and grey; one should always look neat.

In both trial and deposition, one should ensure to answer only the question the opposing counsel has asked, and not give out any other information; thereby, the answers should be direct. A court is a serious place; thus, one has to avoid cracking jokes in the court, as it will not be taken lightly. Jurors and the judge may get an impression of your attitude as being not serious. During a deposition one should not answer the questions asked in a rush; he/she should take time and think thoroughly before answering the questioned asked and listen attentively to the questions (Halder, 2001).

Summary

The number of internet cases is constantly increasing and one has to be careful who he/she is talking to online. One should take desperate measures if they decide to meet someone online in order to ensure they do not fall for a trap from another party. In this case study, Amanda Howard fell for the Lauren’s trap. One should take actions, when it comes to meeting the strangers. When police arrived in the crime scene, they had to collect the evidence before it gets tampered, as it will be used in the case. After evidence is collected it has to be thoroughly analyzed, so as to know more about the crime. We learnt that there are different computer laws broken during a computer crime. An investigator gives a report on the case.

After evidence is collected and analyzed, the next step is deposition. This is an out of court trial, where it gives the opposing counsel time and space to ask the deponent or witness questions. The lawyers get to get information from the deponent about the case. The witness being deposed has to follow the necessary rules during deposition, such as he/she has to be neat, polite, direct, alert, and honest, to speak loudly etc. After a deposition, the trial takes place, which happens in the actual court, it happens in front of the judge and jurors. One should conduct himself well during a trial. The sane rules apply during the deposition.

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