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Apple Watch heart rate, activity data key in Australian murder case

Activity data recovered from an Apple Watch will be reportedly become key evidence for the prosecution in an Australian murder trial.




The victim, Myrna Nilsson, was allegedly murdered by her daughter-in-law Caroline at their Adelaide home in September 2016, the Daily Mail said. Caroline initially claimed that Myrna had been attacked by a group of men following a road rage encounter.

At a Thursday bail hearing, however, a prosecutor told the Adelaide Magistrates Court that a forensic expert had determined that Caroline's explanation was a lie. The Watch data is said to have narrowed the time between Myrna's attack and death to a seven-minute window, beginning with a burst of activity and ending with heart rate tracking coming to a halt.

This would appear to conflict with Caroline's statement that Myrna argued with her attackers for 20 minutes. Prosecutors have also suggested that Caroline texted her husband as little 17 minutes after the murder, then accessed eBay 11 minutes after that — in spite of her alibi that she was also attacked and tied up.

The court ultimately rejected bail, citing the gravity of the charge, the strength of evidence, and Caroline's supposed attempts at hiding evidence.

Apple has been keen to have the Watch treated as a medical-grade device. The company has in fact partnered with Stanford on the Apple Heart Study, using voluntary data collection to help detect irregular heart rhythms.