The United Press International reports that "[n]ewly released documents in Florida's Caylee Anthony case show ominous search words entered on the family computer prior to the child's disappearance." Some thoughts:
1. I've yet to see an investigation wherein the search terms at issue came from the service provider (e.g., Google or Yahoo!). Rather, they appear to be taken from the defendant's computer pursuant to a warrant.
2. I think the introduction of search terms into evidence presents a real danger in the context of inchoate crimes such as attempted murder. Searches can be snapshots of a person's mind, but no more than that. The concern is that a jury will see concrete intentions in Internet searches and not require a showing of a firm will to go through with the crime.
3. As Search Engine Watch points out, searches can lead to convictions in another way -- by allowing citizens to make connections and report them to the police. In one case, a Florida woman reported a man for practicing medicine without a license after an Internet search revealed that his license had been revoked.
4. Why is it always Florida? Read more about Search Terms May Bolster Case Against Casey Anthony