Suspect in remote phone-wiping case denies wrongdoing

Accused woman doesn't even know how to do that, her attorney says
Juelle L. Grant
Juelle L. Grant

SCHENECTADY — A woman accused of wiping data from a phone taken as evidence in a crime denies even knowing how to do that, her attorney said Monday.

Juelle L. Grant, 24, of Willow Avenue, is accused being the driver of a vehicle involved in an Oct. 23 drive-by shooting on Van Vranken Avenue. No one was injured in the shooting.

Police caught up with her and seized her iPhone X, telling her it was considered evidence. Grant then “did remotely wipe” the device, according to court documents. 

Grant’s attorney, Daniel Smalls, said Monday morning that Grant had no involvement in the shooting and she did not wipe the phone.

“Our position is that my client didn’t access anything to remotely delete anything,” Smalls said. “My client wouldn’t have any knowledge how to do that.”

Grant is not a computer-savvy person, he said. 

“We’re doing research on it ourselves,” Smalls said. He said that days after her phone was seized, Grant got a new phone. Smalls said he didn’t know if that had any impact on the data on the phone police had taken.

Previous: Police: Woman remotely wipes phone in evidence after shooting, Nov. 8, 2018

The allegation of remote wiping is dated Oct. 24, at about 8 p.m., a little more than 24 hours after the shooting, according to court documents.

Police arrested Grant on Nov. 2 and charged her with three felonies: two counts of tampering with physical evidence and one count of hindering prosecution. 

One of the tampering counts relates to the phone. The other, as well as the hindering count, relate to her alleged actions the day of the shooting.

Smalls said he doesn’t know what led detectives to focus on Grant in the shooting case or the exact circumstances of how they obtained her phone. 

He said he doesn’t believe she gave consent to search the phone, but she isn’t trying to hide anything.

“My client had no knowledge at all of an individual having a gun or attempting to conceal a gun or harboring a person,” Smalls said.

Grant is accused of driving the shooting suspect from the scene shortly after 4:30 p.m. the day of the incident and of concealing the shooter’s identity, according to court documents. In driving the suspect from the scene, she also helped remove the gun used in the crime, police allege.

No other arrests have been made, officials said.

Technology exists to block remote access to phones in police custody. Containers called Faraday bags are available online.

Asked last Wednesday evening if such technology was available to city detectives, police spokesman Sgt. Matthew Dearing said he did not know but would check with detectives. He indicated late Thursday afternoon that he had yet to hear back from them.

A message Monday morning asking Dearing if he had yet heard back from detectives was not immediately returned.

Grant was arraigned and later released on $10,000 bond.  

Previous: Police: Woman remotely wipes phone in evidence after shooting, Nov. 8, 2018

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