Amazon has agreed to release recordings on an Amazon Echo device that may have recorded information via Alexa, in hopes of revealing details regarding an Arkansas murder case. The defendant, James Andrew Bates, filed an agreement that states the retail giant was free to provide any information logged from the device. The defendant’s decision follows Amazon’s resistance in allowing the US police to obtain recordings. However, collected data from the smart speakers, according to the prosecutors, is a key element in unraveling the case.

The murder of Victor Collins

Police are still investigating the death of Victor Collins, a friend of Bates. The victim was found dead in a hot tub at the defendant’s house in Bentonville November 2015. It was Bates who reported the incident who has since pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. He was arrested in February 2016, claiming he was asleep at the time of the alleged murder.

Last week’s filing saw Bates permitted Amazon to share information from his Amazon Echo device to prove his innocence. On Friday, the tech company handed over the Alexa recordings to the authorities.

Why detectives want the suspect’s Amazon Echo data

The police strongly believe that music was being streamed via Bate’s Echo device on the night of the alleged murder.

While Echo smart speakers don’t actually record audio at rest, they could be accidentally triggered at times when Alexa misinterprets a word and mistakes it for its wake word. The AI is only activated once any of the three following words is spoken out loud: Alexa, Amazon or Echo.

Previously, Amazon cited consumer privacy rights in refusing to submit any information stored in the defendant’s Amazon Echo.

According to the company, prosecutors at Benton County had not established that the investigation was more important than a customer’s right to privacy.

"Given the important First Amendment and privacy implications at stake, the warrant should be quashed unless the Court finds that the State has met its heightened burden for compelled production of such materials," Amazon stated in the court documents. A court hearing scheduled March 8 will determine if any Alexa recordings would be relevant to the case.