Apple Watch heart rate data used as evidence in Australian murder trial

Asseh Rebecca
Apr 4, 2018

The Apple Watch of a victim will be used as evidence in a murder trial taking place in Australia. The victim's heart rate data will be interpreted to give details of the moment of the victim, Myrna Nilsson's, and her subsequent death. Prosecutors are using the Apple Watch as evidence that the story presented to the police was fake.

Myrna Nilsson had allegedly been murdered after being attacked by a group of men following a road rage incident. Her daughter in law, 26-year-old Caroline Nilsson, had claimed that her mother-in-law had argued with the attackers for 20 minutes resulting in her murder.

Although Caroline Nilsson was found distraught and tied up in the street after Myrna Nilsson’s death, and she told the police that two men had entered the home, stolen property, tied her up, and killed her mother-in-law. The police were not convinced and eventually arrested Caroline Nilsson. The police said, “careful investigation of this matter has led to this arrest being made.”

Investigations were made using the watch’s heart rate data and the moment Myrna Nilsson was attacked to the moment she died was narrowed to a seven-minute window. The prosecutor, Carmen Matteo told the court that the watch’s data were not consistent with Caroline Nilsson's statement.  Matteo says, “The prosecution accumulates those timings and the information about energy levels, movement, heart rate, to lead to a conclusion that the deceased must have been attacked at around 6:38 p.m. and had certainly died by 6:45 p.m.”

The trial is still in progress and will continue in June, although it has not been established whether the Apple Watch data will be accepted as accurate evidence. Earlier this year, the Apple Health data had been used by a third party company to recreate an accused user's movement in a murder case in Germany.

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