Attorney for woman convicted in “Facebook murders” says appeal could have national implications

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TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL) – For years we’ve reported on what came to be known as the “Facebook murders.”

A mother and a daughter were convicted of first degree murder, without any evidence they were at the scene of the crime.

Prosecutors say an online dispute involving the women and the victims eventually fueled the father to kill the victims.

The defense attorneys in this case say they are motioning for a new trial, and one of the attorneys said what happens next could influence other cases throughout the country.

The state used hundreds of emails with vulgar and threatening words towards the victims from Barbara and Jenelle Potter’s accounts as key pieces of evidence during their double-murder trial.

But the defense argues the women weren’t the authors of these messages.

“I do think that this case should cause some concern for people,” Attorney for Jenelle Potter, Cameron Hyder said.

“Any person who has a computer that other folks living in their home might be using to access the internet needs to be extremely alarmed by this case and the outcome up to this point,” Attorney for Barbara Potter, Tate Davis said.

Davis is motioning for a new trial, he said because the state’s investigation of the computer evidence wasn’t thorough.

“Since this is such a complex case and the law has not caught up to technology, whatever the court of appeals for Tennessee decides, will most likely be influential in other cases throughout the country,” Davis said.

Whatever you may believe about this case, attorneys say the fact is what comes from your online accounts can turn in to evidence.

“It’s an evolution in how people communicate and thus it can be an evolution in the evidence at trial,” Assistant District Attorney Dennis Brooks said. “Even on the smallest crimes we’re getting Facebook stuff coming in as evidence, on burglaries, statutory rapes, there’s people talking about events on Facebook.”

“It’s something that most people really don’t think about in that heat of the moment,” Hyder said.

And even when you delete information off your online accounts, it can still be recovered.

“It could possibly and very well be held against you in the court of law,” Hyder said.Copyright 2015 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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