Not that the defense is leaning solely on this doubt to give Ulbricht a second chance. It notes that the judge excluded a statement from a Silk Road worker who believed that multiple people used the Dread Pirate Roberts nickname, not just Ulbricht. The appeal also returns to pre-trial claims that law enforcement used exceptionally broad (and in one case, warrantless) searches to collect evidence. Moreover, it accuses the court of denying opportunities to examine key witnesses, and argues that a sentence of life without parole is harsh for someone whose big crime was running a Deep Web site that didn't market specific illegal goods. The court didn't have to go that far to scare off would-be imitators, according to the lawyers.
There's no guarantees that the appeal will fly, let alone that Ulbricht will get off the hook if there's a retrial. After all, there's still evidence directly linking him to the Dread Pirate Roberts handle in the service's early days. With that said, Ulbricht may want to take any break he can get -- the chance of even a slightly reduced sentence might be worthwhile.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Vicki Behringer]