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I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sarasota, FL - The case of Julie Amero has been near and dear to my heart since USA Today Columnist Andrew Kantor brought it to my attention. There are very few things that will get me into fighting mode faster then to see someone being bullied. That is especially true when that person is bullied by a bunch of ignorant government flunkies that are too stupid and/or ignorant to see how badly they are screwing up.

To give you an idea exactly how badly the local authorities screwed up, read this clipping from an article on Alternet:
Horner's analysis of Amero's hard drive cast doubt on Lounsbury's conclusions. Horner found that the computer had been infected with malware before she arrived.

"She was set up days or weeks before she ever sat down," Horner said.

Here are just a few of the red flags Horner discovered in course of his laborious forensic reconstruction: Anti-virus software triggered security alerts as soon as he started copying the hard disk for testing. The computer's Norton activity log showed that by the time Amero came to Kelly, her computer was already infected with spyware from notorious websites including and

One piece of spyware had been already been tracking the computer for about a month.

Horner also discovered that someone, presumably the computer's regular user, had been accessing before Amero's visit. As he noted, dating sites are notorious for spreading porn-related adware.

Another program called Pasco showed that malware had automatically redirected Amero's browser. Horner stressed that this particular form of hijacking is invisible to ComputerCOP Pro.

On Oct. 19, someone did an online job search shortly after 8:00 a.m., activating several different malware apps. At approximately 8:15 a.m., someone accessed, Horner suspects student involvement, in part because the next visit was to Crayola's homepage. Over the next several minutes, still more malware came alive, most likely triggered by the hair site.

The user kept surfing, and by this point, "crap was pouring into the computer at the speed of electricity," Horner said. The real point of no return was when the computer received a huge porn-filled Java file. From that point on, the machine was locked in an endless porn loop.

Note that Amero's class started around 9 a.m. Neither the prosecutor nor detective Lounsbury was able to tell AlterNet whether the room had been locked before class, or exactly what time Amero sat down at her desk.

At trial, it emerged that the school IT department offered no protection against obscene content or invasive software. The Kelly Middle School's firewall license had expired, leaving the whole system unguarded. To make matters worse, Amero was working on a very old Gateway PC running Windows 98, an extremely vulnerable setup.

"Anyone could send anything they wanted to any computer on the site," Horner said.

In the course of his investigation, Horner became convinced of Amero's innocence. After she was convicted, he sent a letter to her attorney offering his services pro bono for her upcoming appeal.

"This whole trial was so unfair," Horner said. "When Julie was convicted, I went home that night. I was eating dinner, and I started crying. I just cried my eyes out. This was a total travesty of justice."

Alternet: Questionable Conviction of Connecticut Teacher in Pop-up Porn Case

Rick Green's column in today's Hartford Courant gives a an accounting of what brought Amero to this point in her life, a convicted felon and marked as a sex offender awaiting sentencing this Thursday. But there is a dim light of hope. It seems the mountain of raw facts contradicting the state's case and incredible shit-storm of out right ridicule for the all parties involved in prosecuting her has got their attention.

But Kane, Smith and others connected to the case have been deluged - and widely ridiculed - by computer security experts who say critical evidence was not considered and officials are now searching for ways to avoid Thursday's sentencing. The state's attorney's office in Norwich is reconsidering its aggressive prosecution of Amero, sources close to the case say.

Smith, whose persuasive arguments convinced the jury of Amero's guilt, would say only that before next Thursday, things "could very well change."

The Hartford Courant, Rick Greens Column: Enduring Storm Of `Pop-Up' Madness

The nice thing about the internet is the power it gives back to the people.

More Links:
Sunbelt Blog: Is this a miscarriage of justice?
Sunbelt Blog: Update on the Julie Amero case
Sunbelt Blog: Another Explosion in Connecticut


Never pray for justice, because you might get some.
- Margaret Atwood

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