2009 ACSR Conference Abstracts

The 2009 ACSR conference was held in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Tom Bevel

Abstract: This workshop taught the students various aspects of bloodstain pattern analysis in a realistic setting. The primary theme was to divide into four different teams and using whole human blood to create bloodstain patterns that were consistent with the scenario proctored by the team. Each scene along with the created evidence was then passed to another group. After analysis this group told the whole class what their opinions were explaining the basis for their opinion. This opinion was then contrasted with the intended scenario by the creating team. The overall consensus was that it is very difficult to stage a scene to look like what is intended as the patterns will always appear consistent with the event that created them and a proper analysis will reveal the actual events.

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Report Writing

Ross Gardner

Abstract: This four-hour workshop discussed aspects of effective report writing for bloodstain pattern analysis. These aspects include recognizing the three main functions of the expert’s report, which are: creating a historical record of the expert’s effort, sharing the conclusions achieved through the analysis, and remaining within the framework of the scientific method by achieving a “reviewable, repeatable, and testable” standard. The lecture correlated the expert’s report to a standardized BPA methodology. The lecture concentrated on observational reporting by the analyst that utilized defined stain morphology terms and a taxonomic classification system. Subsequent to the lecture, students engaged in practical exercises designed to build objective observation and classification skills and articulate these observations and conclusions in a written format.

Communicating Shooting Reconstruction Events via the Written Report

Matthew Noedel, Noedel Scientific

Abstract: This four-hour workshop addressed the importance of using correct nomenclature and discussed techniques for clear and concise reporting about firearm related evidence and events. The workshop included practical examples involving reporting trajectory results and effectively communicating shooting reconstruction conclusions were used to provide a basis for preparing an accurate written report. Students were challenged to prepare portions of written reports from raw data supplied during the class.

De-Mystifying the Scientific Method and Experiment Design

Michael S. Maloney

Abstract: This workshop was geared towards forming a framework that allows those performing forensic reconstructions to integrate the scientific method into the methodology, procedures, and reporting in a manner that is easy to document and later articulate during judicial proceedings. Inductive and deductive reasoning, the use of a hypothesis, following the scientific method rather than making the method fit later, and the use of variables and controls in original experimentation design were all topics of discussion and exercises. Students were encouraged to bring a practical example of an experiment they may have to design to resolve an issue. The instructor brought the unique mixture of practical reconstruction experience and experiment design in a presentation format guided by his experience in forensic reconstruction as well as his background as a high school biology teacher and college science instructor.

Execution vs. Self Defense

Kenton Wong

Abstract: A case study that utilized the multi-disciplinary approach of crime scene reconstruction to the circumstances that resulted in a death that was contended to be an execution style gang shooting. On New Year’s Eve 2006, Sureño (South Side) gang member Sean “Sad Boy” Terwilliger showed up intoxicated by methamphetamine at the residence of his ex-girlfriend (and current fiancée of Chad Lodell) after being released from prison. A verbal altercation ensued and quickly escalated into a physical altercation whereby Terwilliger was shot and killed by Chad Lodell, an ex-Norteño (North Side) gang member. The prosecution contended that the incident and subsequent death was a gang-motivated execution style murder. However, crime scene reconstruction, wound ballistics, and pathology indicated that the death was due to self-defense and not execution as the prosecution contended.

Forensic Anthropology

Dr. Diane France

Abstract: This workshop educated the student on the differences between human and non-human bones that may be encountered during criminal investigations. The workshop included hands on examples for students to study.

Photoshop® for Crime Scene Investigators

Guy Pierce

Abstract: This workshop was designed to give the attendee the opportunity to get some hands-on experience using Adobe Photoshop CS4. Basic tools and techniques were demonstrated, practiced, and then applied to exercises that should be relevant and useful to the crime scene investigator and forensic analysts. Some of the subjects covered included digital image management, sizing images one-to-one, preparing comparison charts, fingerprint enhancement, court board preparation, and touch-up tools.

Posing the Scene

Iris Dalley

Abstract: Forensic animation is a tool for displaying and explaining evidence in ways that are both simple to understand and strikingly memorable. The exhibit must accurately depict the facts or events it is offered to illustrate. This is not only a question for admissibility in the courtroom, but also for the ethical conduct of the presenter. Since “seeing is believing”, demonstratives can also be used to mislead and misinform. A number of simple animation software programs are marketed. In this workshop, techniques for preparing forensic animations using Poser were presented.

Post-blast Bombing Scenes

Special Agents Chris Skillman and Miles Gooderham, FBI

Abstract: This class was designed to familiarize crime scene investigators with explosive post-blast investigations. Students received an introduction to post-blast investigations followed by a practical exercise that required them to process a real indoor post-blast scene. Emphasis was placed on what evidence of an improvised explosive device (IED) can be expected to survive the explosion and how that evidence can be used to recreate the actual IED.

Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Kenton Wong

Abstract: A case study whereby crime scene reconstruction and the examination of physical evidence resulted in the exoneration of a man wrongly accused and incarcerated for 11 years for a high profile homicide case in the San Francisco Bay Area. Just after midnight on January 9th, 1997, 20-year-old Ronnie Small was shot to death by three to four black gunmen in the presence of approximately 25 people attending a birthday party in a crowded apartment in the San Francisco north bay city of Marin City, California. Events leading up to the homicide involved an on-going war between Ronnie Small and Joseph Michel, also known as “JoJo Koulibaly”. Several witnesses reported that Koulibaly killed Small as he jumped upon Small on the couch and subsequently fired multiple shots from his .40 S&W semi-automatic pistol, however, JoJo Koulibaly subsequently fled to France and would not face extradition until years later. Meanwhile, the intense political pressure to bring the killers to justice possibly resulted in the misidentification of Darrell Hunter. In addition, through apparently compromised physical evidence (that transpired over a period of almost three years) that was eventually brought to light in a second trial, Darrell Hunter was exonerated in March 2008.

The Haditha Massacre

Michael S. Maloney

Abstract: In November of 2006 a roadside bomb exploded in Haditha, Iraq. The detonation resulted in the loss of life of a U.S. Marine and signaled the start of a coordinated ambush against U.S. Forces. The Marines responded, in the aftermath 24 Iraqi civilians were dead in five different locations. The allegation of atrocities came to light almost five months later and the incident was quickly dubbed by the press as the “Haditha Massacre”. Responding to Iraq to gather the evidence, document the scenes, and then apply reconstruction methodologies was a massive effort in a very non-traditional environment. The challenges included a four-month-old scene, five locations that had been cleaned or reconstructed, and the decedents had been buried before any post mortem examinations. The reconstruction required the application of well documented and practiced forensic techniques such as bloodstain pattern, firearms trajectory, post blast analysis, wound dynamics, and mechanism of injury in a non-traditional scene. The ultimate challenge to this reconstruction was time spent on scene. The scene examination for all scenes was limited to four hours due to threats of mortar attack, roadside bombs on exit routes, and other hostile attacks by insurgents. An 18-month reconstructive effort was conducted using these scene findings as well as hundreds of photographs provided from non-law enforcement photographers, journalists, military, and bystanders that day. The reconstructive effort was sufficient to clearly support the veracity of a single version of events and actions that day when the Marines’ and the Iraqi’s accounts of the events differed so dramatically.

The Paul Childs Shooting

Lieutenant Jonathyn W. Priest, Denver Police Department

Abstract: When a peace officer discharges a firearm and wounds or kills a person, law enforcement agencies often employ specific protocols to investigate and review the case. Officer-involved shootings are not just another type of criminal investigation. Confrontations between police and citizens, where physical force or deadly physical force is used, are among the most important incidents with which we deal. They have potential criminal, administrative, and civil consequences. Additionally, such incidents have a significant impact on the relationship between law enforcement officers and the community they serve. Compounding the community impact of these shootings include the age of the victim, cross racial issues, type of weapon used, mental or physical condition of the victim, number of shots fired, prior shootings by the officer, methods of investigation, and agency reputation. This case study addresses the issues associated with reconstructing a crime scene, as well as an investigation, considering many of the controversial factors listed here. The Paul Childs shooting investigation provides an insight in to contentious situations and examples of questionable tactics and investigative practices.

The Waynewright Texas Shooting

Tom Bevel

Abstract: A case study of an officer-involved shooting case in which experts disagreed on the cause of the fatal gunshot wound to the officer. Officers attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle at night. The vehicle drove out into a field. The suspect fired a lever-action .30-30 caliber rifle striking and killing an officer. Another expert contended that the officer was killed by friendly fire from his partner. The lecture presented the opinions by the opposing sides along with the foundation for their opinions. The lecture was then open for group discussion and questions. After approximately fifteen minutes of questions and discussion the surprising out come was given. Many in the discussion believed that not all forensic questions were adequately put before the jury and this was the cause for “not guilty” on the part of the accused.

Using Lasers to Document Fired Bullet Paths

Matthew Noedel, Noedel Scientific

Abstract: The “CSI effect” has created an expectation by jurors to see dramatic presentations of crime scene evidence. The use of lasers to provide demonstrative exhibits in shooting reconstructions has become expected and has distinct advantages over sketches, strings, or other techniques. This four-hour workshop provided the basis for using lasers to represent fired bullet paths. Exercises included measuring, recording, and documenting paths of fired bullets using lasers and photographing the resultant laser paths. Participants in this workshop got hands on practice using common techniques for trajectory documentation. Students were encouraged to bring their own camera, tripod, and/or laser trajectory system.