AVONDALE, Ariz. — Avondale police say despite charges being dropped and an arrest warrant issued for another suspect, they did not arrest the wrong man in connection to a March 2018 murder in Avondale.
"I wouldn't put his status as the wrong guy at all," Officer Jaret Redfearn of Avondale PD said.
Police arrested Jorge Molina last December after Google data, GPS tracking and vehicle registration tied him to the scene of a March 2018 murder with no witnesses.
Joseph Knight was killed outside his apartment near Central Avenue and Van Buren Street in Avondale on March 14 of last year. While investigating the murder, the Avondale Police Department received a search warrant for data from mobile devices associated with Google accounts that traveled through the area.
One of the four Google accounts belonged to Molina.
Police had used Google data and surveillance video of a man firing shots from a white Honda Civic, the same make and model that is registered to Molina, to pin him as the suspect.
When police arrested Molina in December, they noted the significance of this new method of obtaining evidence, geofence warrants. While reporting on Molina's arrest, 12 News spoke to a data expert who warned against relying on data obtained through geofence warrants.
New evidence obtained as part of the investigation led police to issue an arrest warrant for Marcos Cruz Gaeta, the ex-boyfriend of Molina’s mom.
Ken Colburn CEO of Data Doctors called the technology a great tool for law enforcement as long as it is used correctly. He added there should be more evidence than just a phone saying someone is at a certain time or place.
"Just because the evidence does imply circumstantially, that this is our guy, we still have to do the hard work," Colburn said. "The technology provided raw data, the technology was provided by humans. Humans made a mistake."