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Expert Says Hit & Run Suspect’s Cellphone Could Provide Valuable Evidence

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Kendra Balentine appeared in Boulder Co. Court on Friday. (credit: CBS)

Kendra Balentine appeared in Boulder Co. Court on Friday. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – A Longmont woman is accused of killing a teenager in a hit-and-run accident, but her mother told CBS4 that police arrested the wrong person.

A judge set the bond at $100,000 for Kendra Balentine. The 18-year-old is charged with leaving the scene of a deadly hit-and-run. Police say she allegedly ran over 16-year-old Jason Grimmer on New Year’s Eve, killing him.

Kendra’s mother said it wasn’t possible for her daughter to be the driver because she was with her that entire night. Stephanie Balentine showed CBS4 some cellphone video that she said proves her daughter was in church that night.

“I told the officers it was impossible. My daughter was at church and her car was there with her,” she said.

Police say Kendra was in church that night, but she left around 9:45 p.m. to join friends who had been fighting with other teens. According to police, Grimmer was also there and had run into traffic to escape the fight.

The University of Colorado Denver is home to the National Center for Media Forensics and graduate students in the program learn how to gather valuable digital evidence from things such as cellphone video.

Jeff Smith heads up the media forensics graduate program to prepare students for work in law enforcement as digital detectives.

“In this particular case the most important thing is to construct a timeline,” Smith told CBS4.

Jason Grimmer (credit: CBS)

Jason Grimmer (credit: CBS)

Smith said the cellphone video in the Balentine case could give police valuable information.

“Everyone has a cellphone and is recording video or making audio recordings or taking still pictures constantly,” Smith said. “All of that information, a lot of that media has date and time and location information.”

Using special equipment, a cellphone is isolated so that it doesn’t send or receive any other information.

“It’s that crucial need to maintain the integrity of the evidence,” Smith said.

Then with the right cord, the information is collected.

“Download the text messages, any videos, any images from the phone to the computer.”

There it can be analyzed to see what is fact and what is fiction.

“The suspect’s cellphone call records could be extracted, which have GPS information,” Smith said. “Put those factors together and determine whether or not that alibi stands up.”

The program also teaches students how to enhance video and audio recordings. That’s something that comes in handy when looking at surveillance video of a crime.

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