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Facebook status bolsters alibi in armed robbery case

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A banal Facebook status update has provided an alibi for a 19 year-old New Yorker facing armed robbery charges.

Rodney Bradford posted "Where’s my pancakes" from a computer in his father's home in Harlem on the morning of 17 October, at the same time he was suspected of taking part in the robbery at gunpoint of two men at the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn, his normal place of residence. Bradford was taken in for questioning by police the day after the stick-up, at which point he told cops he was on a computer miles away from the scene of the crime.

Checks via Facebook and presumably ISPs confirmed that Bradford's status was updated from the Harlem house at the time when the robbery took place. Rodney Bradford Sr, and his stepmother, Ernestine Bradford, backed up the story and the charges were dropped.

His defence lawyer, Robert Reuland, admitted that it might be possible for anyone who knew Bradford Junior’s username and password to have made the update, while dismissing the scenario as highly unlikely.

"This implies a level of criminal genius that you would not expect from a young boy like this. He is not Dr. Evil," Reuland told The New York Times, adding that the Facebook update was simply the "icing on the cake", since the accused already had witnesses to provide an alibi.

Previously activity on social networking websites has largely cropped up as prosecution evidence. For example, a burglar logged onto Facebook during the ransacking of a Pennsylvania home back in September using and forgot to log off when he made his escape. The resulting digital trail of evidence help to build a case against a local 19 year-old, who was later arrested on suspicion of burglary. ®

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