Matthew Crippen, a 28-year-old man from Southern California, was charged with violating copyright law by
running a small business of modifying Xbox 360 consoles from his home.
Before the first criminal trial of its kind even began, the prosecutors had a weak case. Their main piece of evidence was an undercover agent's illegally obtained video of Crippen allegedly modifying an Xbox 360.
“I really don’t understand what we’re doing here,” Judge Philip Gutierrez commented before the trial.
Gutierrez derailed the prosecution's entire case from the unlawful behavior of its primary witness, undercover agent Tony Rosario, to the proposed jury instructions which were biased against the defense. Federal
prosecutors attempted to hide Rosario's unlawful conduct in obtaining the video from the jury, but Rosario's testimony ended up leading to the dismissal of the case.
The prosecution's first witness, Tony Rosario, was an agent working undercover for the Entertainment Software Association. He testified on Wednesday that he paid Crippen $60 back in 2008 to modify an Xbox, while secretly videotaping the whole thing. All of these details were discussed and put on the table during pretrial, but during his testimony, Rosario also added a piece of information that debunked the prosecution's case. Coincidentally helping the prosecution meet an obligation imposed by the judge, Rosario testified that Crippen inserted a pirated game to verify the hack worked.
There was no mention in any of Rosario's reports or sworn declarations that Crippen put a pirated game in the Xbox 360. The defense immediately objected due to the lack of evidence to support Rosario's new testimony and the prosecution's errors in not disclosing Rosario's recollection to the defense.
After admitting the governments errors in the prosecution, district attorney Allen Chiu moved to dismiss the case based on fairness and justice.