DA Investigator Attempts to Discredit Key Evidence in Dev Case; Cross, However, Demonstrates Limited Investigation

Ajay Dev was sentenced to 378 years in 2009 with no physical evidence and a questionable pretext phone call

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Woodland, CA – Prosecutors on Monday attempted to attack key evidence in what is now a five-year-old Habeas evidentiary hearing for Ajay Dev, who was convicted of the serial rape of his adopted daughter in 2009 and sentenced to 378 years.

Dev has always maintained his innocence and was granted an evidentiary hearing in 2018.  For the last five years it has been off and on, slowed by not only COVID but the logistics of getting overseas witnesses.

At issue was a message to Ajay Dev’s brother’s Sanjay in January 2018 from a relative of the alleged victim in the case.

The alleged victim’s sister said: “[AV] want to take revenge and get to Amrika [sic]. . . . The only way to come to Amrika [sic] was to come testify against Ajay uncle. We did not know that he will be put in jail long time. Now AV say that if she helps she will go to jail and get deported. . . . AV has lied many times in the past. She had no choice. Police say to her they will help if AV testify for rape. . . . We know that she was not raped. . . . We also tell AV to tell the truth that this never happen but she scared now.”

Testifying was DA Investigator Kevin Scaife, who was tasked with attempting to authenticate the message.  He was not qualified as an expert on Facebook, however was able to testify to his investigatory conclusions based on his training and experience.

He explained that he served a search warrant on Facebook to get records for the exchange between Sanjay Dev and the sister.  He reached the conclusion that the messages exchanged between Sanjay Dev and MD-52 were not authentic.  Instead he determined that an unknown third party sent those messages.

Scaife determined that the unknown account communicated with Dev between January 4 and January 7, 2018.

The unknown profile was deleted on February 11, 2018.  Scaife testified that once messages or a profile are deleted, Facebook does not store the data, so he was unable to determine who operated the account or even where the messages were sent.

Scaife was able to determine that Dev and MD-52 had been connected on Facebook.  His investigation showed that MD-52 unfriended Dev on January 3, 2018—right before the message exchange.

Under cross-examination by Dev’s attorney Jennifer Mouzis, Scaife admitted that if messages were deleted, they would not be provided in any kind of search.  Moreover, he had no forensic way to determine if there were deleted messages.

He also acknowledged that he had no way to tell who the authentic user of the MD-52 account was and whether a spoof account was used to send the messages.

Further, he was not able to determine the PD address from which the messages originated or even whether they originated in Nepal where the witness would presumably preside or the US.

Mouzis noted that some of the messages could be interpreted as extortion—in effect, offering a means to drop the charges in exchange for money.  But Scaife said he never pursued that angle.

He further testified under-cross examination that he had no way to tell the identity of who opened the account and that he never called or attempted to contact either MD-52 or Sanjay Dev.

When asked by Deputy DA Alvina Tsang why he didn’t do that, he testified that he was not tasked with detecting who or for what purpose the messages were sent.  He was only tasked with authenticating the account.

And again he concluded that it was not MD-52 who sent the messages to Dev.

The hearing concluded on Tuesday afternoon even though it had originally been scheduled to last Tuesday and Thursday afternoons as well.

Mouzis indicated she was uncertain if they would need a rebuttal witness on that.  But further hearings are not scheduled until the morning of September 15.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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