Woman Sues Former Murder Suspect

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A Bentonville man formerly charged with murder in a case that involved information from an Amazon Echo is being sued by the dead man’s widow.

Bentonville attorney Shane Wilkinson filed the lawsuit against James Bates of Bentonville Friday on behalf of Kristine Collins Homan in Benton County Circuit Court against Bates.

Bates was charged with first-degree murder, but prosecutors dismissed the case.

Homan is seeking a jury trial and punitive damages against Bates.

The murder case gained national attention when prosecutors and police got a warrant ordering Amazon to turn over information from the Echo device at Bates’ home from the night of Collins’ death. 

Attorneys for Amazon filed a motion seeking to quash the warrant.

The Echo is a speaker controlled by users’ voices. It uses a processor to identify a “wake word” and in response to the word connects to Amazon’s Cloud-based Alexa Voice Service to receive and respond to voice commands. Amazon agreed to turn over the information after Bates’ attorney consented.

Nathan Smith, Benton County’s prosecuting attorney, said his office did not obtain any incriminating evidence from the Echo device.

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