The last few days have been rough for the Ulbricht defense team. Judge Katherine Forrest rejected their attempts for expert testimony about Bitcoin, which would have made little difference. She did allow prosecutors to present apparently vivid murder-for-hire evidence based on a decision made shortly before the trial began.
Timothy Howard read to the jury the lengthy and vivid chat logs between DPR, “FriendlyChemist” and “Redandwhite”. The latter, purportedly a member of Hell’s Angels, indicated that he arranged for the killing of the former upon DPR’s request.
The logs delve into additional plans to take out four other enemies on DPR’s hit list and also mention how another one of FriendlyChemist’s associates was kidnapped and supposedly murdered.
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DPR’s recruiting of Redandwhite was actually preceded by discussions on getting the latter to deal on Silk Road, which both parties believed to be a lucrative prospect. DPR also apparently helped Redandwhite get set familiar with Bitcoin and encrypted messaging systems.
In one chat in April 2013, DPR says he sent 3,000 bitcoins (then worth $500,000), as payment for purging another one of his enemies. The payment was sent to 1MwvS1idEevZ5gd428TjL3hB2kHaBH9WTL and its transaction number, e7db5246a810cb76e53314fe51d2a60f5609bb51d37a4df105356efc286c6c67.
The transaction can be analysed on blockchain.info. It shows 3,000 BTC moving to the said address, and from there, split and sent to other addresses possibly based out of the U.S., Germany and Netherlands.
Defense lawyer Joshua Dratel cross-examined Brian Shaw, an FBI agent to image the logs from Silk Road’s servers. Dratel accused Shaw of fabricating the evidence.
It has yet to be proven that any of the murders actually took place. Either way, the readings are a chilling reminder of the ease in which Bitcoin can facilitate the gravest of crimes- remotely from anywhere in the world. Its prospects as a mainstream currency are limited at least until crime prevention controls are developed to a degree society is comfortable with.