Analyst says Google data places Burch at scene of murder

Published: Feb. 27, 2018 at 8:42 AM CST
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A tech analyst testified that Google data puts George Burch at sites where a Ledgeview woman was killed and her body was dumped.

Tyler Behling gave a timeline of Burch's movements and mapped out his locations during the time of Nicole VanderHeyden's murder. Scroll down to read about Behling's testimony.

Before resting their case, prosecutors presented evidence from a Fitbit and Google Dashboard at day seven of the Burch murder trial.

Fitbit evidence is a new frontier in murder cases. It's drawn national media to Green Bay.

Burch is standing trial for 1st Degree Intentional Homicide for the death of VanderHeyden, a Ledgeview mother. VanderHeyden's body was found on Hoffman Road in Bellevue, about three miles from her Ledgeview home, on May 21, 2016. A medical examiner testified that VanderHeyden was strangled and beaten to death.

The prosecution says Burch's DNA was found on VanderHeyden's body, and Google Dashboard data puts him at the location where her body was dumped and her bloody clothes were dumped.

Burch's defense team is pointing the finger at Nicole VanderHeyden's boyfriend, Douglass Detrie. Detrie was arrested after the murder but released due to lack of evidence, investigators say.

The prosecution said Detrie's Fitbit data shows he was sleeping at the time of the murder. The state wanted sleep-monitoring data to be included in the trial. Burch's defense asked the judge to throw it out, saying the evidence is unreliable. The defense cited lawsuits filed against the company for inaccuracy of sleep and heart rate data.

Judge John Zakowski agreed to exclude the Fitbit sleep-monitoring data from trial. The state will be allowed to present step-counting data.

Tuesday's first witness was Sgt. Richard Loppnow of the Brown County Sheriff's Office. He's talking about the Google account linked to George Burch's cell phone.

Loppnow says he sent a warrant to Google with Burch's Gmail account. Google complied and provided Loppnow a spreadsheet showing Burch's data.

Loppnow says he also sent a warrant to Fitbit for data taken from Douglass Detrie's fitness tracker device. Loppnow says Detrie was wearing the device when he was interviewed after the murder. Loppnow watches the videotaped interview with Detrie and compares it to Fitbit data. He says discrepancies happen three times in the course of five hours. The Fitbit registers steps when Detrie is talking with his hands.

Loppnow says the Fitbit data is accurate when Detrie gets up and walks around.

The defense cross-examines Loppnow. They want to know if he's a Fitbit experts or tech expert. Loppnow says he is not, but he did compare Fitbit data with hours of video.

The next witness was Brown County Sheriff's Office analyst Tyler Behling. He examined about one dozen phones in the VanderHeyden case.

Behling uses software called

which is also used by the FBI. Behling says he analyzed Nicole VanderHeyden's phone to see her last steps. It shows nothing after midnight. Witnesses have testified that Nicole's phone died when she walked away from the Sardine Can in downtown Green Bay in the late hours of May 20 or early hours of May 21.

Behling also testifies about Douglass Detrie's phone. His last activities was a Facebook call or message at 3:07 a.m. to his babysitter, Dallas Kennedy. The next activities happens 2:44 p.m. on May 21. Detrie's Facebook Messenger was also active at approximately 11 a.m. because he had logged on a computer. Detrie has testified that he was attempting to find out why Nicole VanderHeyden never returned home from the bar.

Detrie's messages go to friend Gregg Mathu and VanderHeyden's sister, Heather Meyer.

Behling also testifies about Detrie's Fitbit app that works with the device he wears on his wrist. The analyst says he compares data from his forensic software program and data from Fitbit and they "match perfectly."

A graph is shown to the court. It shows the last time Detrie's Fitbit registering steps at 3:08 a.m. on May 21.

Behling compares data collected from Fitbit with data collected from Google and says they are consistent. The defense objects to comparing these two sets of data and the judge tells the jury to disregard the comparison.

The state questions Behling about Burch's phone. He testifies that there were more than 60 visits to news articles about VanderHeyden's murder.

Behling finds that Burch first started looking into articles on the murder on May 22, 2016, at 5:19 a.m. He continues to look at articles about the case through the month of June. Behling testifies that Burch looked for no other local news stories during this time.

The state questions Behling about Google tracking data from Burch's phone. Google uses cell towers, GPS positioning, and wireless network positioning.

Behling says data shows Burch at a bar on S. Broadway, traveling south to De Pere, traveling to VanderHeyden's home in Ledgeview (the site of her murder), and to the site where the body was found off Hoffman Road in Bellevue. It then tracks Burch traveling west on Highway 172. VanderHeyden's clothing was found dumped near a highway off-ramp.

Burch is last on South Broadway at 2:45 a.m. He travels to his place of residence. The data puts Burch in VanderHeyden's neighborhood at 3:01 a.m.

At 3:05 a.m., Burch is still in the area of VanderHeyden's Ledgeview home. The data shows Burch at the Hoffman Road area at 3:59 a.m. That's where VanderHeyden's body was found in a field.

At 4:02 a.m., Google data shows Burch moving farther away from the field where VanderHeyden's body was found.

Behling testifies that hey viewed Burch's test messages and call logs from the night of the murder. Behling says it is clear Burch has his phone on him because he had been contacting his girlfriend and other "associates."

The defense questions Behling on how well he understands the Fitbit. Behling says it's a "high level." The defense asks if the Fitbit data can be manipulated. Behling does not know. Behling says he will not speculate on a bug fix for Fitbit.

During break, the defense argues evidence from Fitbit should be excluded because Detrie "could have edited it." District Attorney David Lasee says Fitbit certified the accuracy of the data they provided to the Brown County Sheriff's Office.

The defense wants an expert from Fitbit to testify. Burch's attorneys say the state has not "laid the proper foundation." Again, the judge ruled on this evidence before trial. The judge suggests the defense call an expert from Fitbit.

During break, the judge agrees to review his previous decision on Fitbit evidence. After the break, Judge John Zakowski comes back and says the testimony and data presented on the Fitbit is admissible and the state "laid the proper foundation" to argue it in court.

The defense's first witness is Jason Lemens, an acquaintance of Nicole VanderHeyden. Lemens testifies that he spoke with Nicole VanderHeyden at the Sardine Can prior to her disappearance. He says that she seemed to be in a "good mood." However, he remembers VanderHeyden telling him that she would get in trouble for talking to another man. Lemens says she doesn't appear panicked over it.

The next defense witness is Dallas Kennedy, the woman who babysat for VanderHeyden and Detrie the night of the murder. Kennedy reminds the court of what happened the night of the murder. She watch watching the couple's son when Detrie came home. He said he was looking for VanderHeyden but her phone was off.

On May 22, the day after the murder, Kennedy talks on the phone with Detrie. She testifies that she asked him what happened and he told her that Nicole hit her head and wanted to walk home.

Detrie previously testified that he didn't recall saying that.

Investigator Nicolas Olmsted returns to the stand. He helped during the search of the Detrie and VanderHeyden home. He says investigators noticed Nicole VanderHeyden's vehicle in the garage. The defense questions Olmsted about seat settings in her car.

The defense's final witness of the day was Brown County Deputy Roman Aronstein. He helped during the execution of search warrants during the murder investigation. He's asked about a box of wires taken from Douglass Detrie's garage.

The jury was excused for the day, but the judge, defense and state continued discussions on possible testimony in the coming days.

There are jailhouse informants who have written statements about their interactions with Burch in prison. The court will determine if these witness should be allowed to testify. The defense worries these statements may be "orchestrated" and the witnesses unreliable.

The defense is worried one of the inmates may cause a conflict-of-interest because someone on the defense team knows the "snitch." The defense argues that if that inmate testifies, they would have to withdraw themselves from the case.

The defense brings up Burch moving to a different cell with new cellmates before the start of the trial. They allege the state organized this move to get information. The state calls this allegation "offensive."

Judge Zakowski says he's gone through some of the statements and says some details would be inadmissible in court. He's questioning whether or not allowing the inmate testimony would lead to a mistrial. He will allow both sides to give him case law to present an argument.

Judge Zakowski says he will go through the remaining inmate statements tonight and will have a decision by Wednesday morning.

The judge will also release a decision on a defense witness who may have violated an order of sequestration and viewed news coverage of the trial.

The defense has discussed the possibility of Burch taking the stand. That's to be determined.

Action 2 News reporters Andrea Hay and Brittany Schmidt are on Twitter providing real time updates from the courtroom. Follow


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