Donations, grants support mobile forensic lab

The District 12 DA’s Office recently received a check from the Cherokee Nation to support a forensic lab used to retrieve data from mobile devices. Shown are DA Matt Ballard and CN Tribal Council member Janees Taylor.

The Cherokee Nation recently made a donation to support a mobile forensic lab operated from the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office.

CN Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor presented the DA’s office with a check in the amount of $1,071 on Thursday. District 12 DA Matt Ballard said the donation — along with other grant funds received and drug interdiction money — will be used to support the forensic lab, nicknamed the “Batcave.”

The lab cost over $10,000, according to information from the DA’s office.

The “Batcave” utilizes Lantern forensic software to extract data from cell phones, even after it has been deleted, according to Assistant District Attorney Brian Surber. “There is always a trail on devices,” he said.

The tool has been instrumental in solving drug conspiracy cases and cases involving child neglect.

Surber said, “We actually did retrieve information on a mother’s cell phone who was texting back and forth on how to cover up injuries on a child.”

He said a search warrant is restricted to the crime being investigated — but if an additional crime is discovered on a mobile device, a subsequent search warrant is issued. That was the situation in the child neglect case, when the cell phone data also revealed drug use, Ballard said.

“Anything where we think there might be leading information, we will get a warrant for it,” he said.

In addition to data on the cell phone, investigators can subpoena information from cell phone carriers, such as GPS information and other data. Ballard said the investigative tools help in solving a number of cases.