2010 ACSR Conference Abstracts

The 2010 ACSR conference was held in San Diego, California, USA.

3D Laser Scanning for Crime Scene Reconstruction

Tony Grissim, Leica Geosystems

Abstract: 3D laser scanning enables investigators to photograph and measure a scene with an extraordinary level of speed, accuracy and completeness. The information gathered can be used to generate up to six high-value rapid response products within minutes of the scanning to provide detectives with 3D information for conducting interviews and assessing witness statements. In the courtroom, laser scanning data allows prosecutors to place the jury in the scene. This presentation included a live demonstration of a 3D laser scanner at a mock crime scene, an overview of its various law enforcement applications, case studies of homicides, officer involved shootings, shooting reconstruction, and post-blast investigations. Data from 3D laser scans has been accepted in U.S. courts of law many times. Case references were provided and details shared on how various police agencies are using the Leica system to become accredited for crime scene mapping. The method used for validating the technology for shooting reconstruction was described.

Application of Semiautomatic Firearm Ejection Patterns

Matthew Noedel, Noedel Scientific

Abstract: This workshop covered the concepts that influence semiautomatic firearm cartridge case ejection patterns. The course covered how to determine and document an ejection pattern, the limits of such an examination, and conclude with practical, live fire demonstrations at a shooting range. Students from this course learned both practical and theoretical limits to ejection pattern evaluations in context to shooting scenes.

Basic Ejection Pattern Examination

Matthew Noedel, Noedel Scientific

Abstract: This brief presentation outlined the techniques, results, and findings of the Ejection Pattern Workshop Sessions taught at the 2010 ACSR Conference in San Diego. A brief review of the exercises was provided and the limits and ability for ejection pattern to be a useful tool for reconstruction was discussed. Those attendees not able to take the workshop benefited from the insights offered by this review.

Basic IR Blood Photography Techniques / The Fuji IS Pro

Jeff Borngasser, Oregon State Police, Central Point Lab

Abstract: This workshop was an introduction to IR/UV-photography of blood. Demonstrations of how this type of photography differs from conventional photography were performed. Discussion covered different lighting and filter conditions and how they can change the image captured. The focus of this workshop was crime scene photography, however, some other techniques were discussed such as obliterated writing, counterfeit currency, and pattern removal. Individuals were encouraged to bring their IR cameras to participate in hands on exercises.

Bloodstain Pattern Documentation

Craig Ogino, Chula Vista Police Department Crime Lab

Abstract: This course covered how to document bloodstain scenes using items to enhance the stains, photography, and notes. The students were taught a systematic process on documentation that will aid in the report writing process as well as in giving testimony.

The students were required to have completed a basic 40-hour bloodstain class and know how to use a single lens reflex digital camera. The students were required to bring a single lens reflex digital camera, a scientific calculator that had trigonometric functions, a protractor, tape measure, and a way to download photographs from their camera to a computer.

A lecture and a practical exercise were used to teach this process. At the end of the class the student should have learned a way to systematically document a crime scene and be ready for their courtroom presentation.

Clinical Medicine for the Crime Scene Analyst

Dr. Christopher Milroy MD, LLB, FRCPath, FRCPC, DMJ, The Ottawa Hospital, and University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Abstract: In the interpretation of crime scene evidence involving homicides and other serious non-fatal offences against the person, knowledge of clinical medicine can be important in the interpretation of findings. Such questions as how quickly someone will die, whether they were incapacitated before death and what activity they would be capable of following the infliction of various types of injury are common questions asked of medical witnesses at trial. The Forensic pathologist is often assisted by information at the crime scene. A knowledge of these issues will also help criminalists and crime scene reconstructionists in the interpretation of their findings. This presentation discussed the forensic aspects of injuries, in particular head injuries and penetrating injuries. Clinical assessment of head injury, including use of the Glasgow Coma scale, types of cardiac rhythms and which abnormal rhythms develop in which situations was discussed. In addition the interaction of natural disease and trauma was also illustrated.

Cold Case Investigation: DNA Testing Aided by Crime Scene Photos

Amy Jagmin, Washington State Patrol Crime Lab

Abstract: In December of 1968, Sandra (Sandy) Bowman was fatally stabbed in the Seattle apartment that she shared with her husband. Sandy was 16-years old, newly married, and was in her second trimester of pregnancy. Following a review of the case by cold case detectives with the Seattle Police Department, numerous items were submitted to the WSP Seattle Crime Lab for DNA testing. Crime scene photos were also submitted for review relative to the DNA testing. Due to the photos being provided to the scientist for review, DNA evidence was obtained which ultimately led to the discovery and conviction of the perpetrator 36 years after the crime was committed. This case presentation demonstrated why communication and cooperation between scientist and detective/investigator are necessary, particularly in working cold case homicides.

Crime Scene Reconstruction – An Application Workshop

Lawrence Lee Renner, Santa Fe City Police (Retired)

Abstract: The reconstruction of a crime scene is a specialized activity and can be used at both current and old scenes with significant out-comings. The technique utilizes the scientific method to analyze the physical evidence from the scene, background information victimology, and deductive reasoning to determine segments of the multiple events that make up a criminal incident. A knowledge of the entire crime scene is gained by collection of all the data relating to the incident. This includes identifying physical evidence and bloodstain patterns at the scene; evaluating laboratory testing and autopsy results; all EMT, ER, and medical reports; police reports, interviews and statements. This information is then used to form a question and utilizes the scientific method to test the findings against the expected in a similar situation. Various demonstrative methods to illustrate the individual segments of the events that occurred can be helpful in acquiring plea arrangements from both the prosecution and the defense.

This crime scene reconstruction workshop supplied the attendees with presentations, examples, and hands-on opportunities to evaluate case information and allowed for their presentation of findings utilizing reconstruction principles and various forms of demonstrative presentations.

De-Mystifying the Scientific Method and Experiment Design

Michael S. Maloney and Kim Duddy

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.

Forensic Ethics

Pete Barnett, D-ABC; Carolyn Gannett, Forensic Science Associates, San Diego Sheriff’s Crime Lab (Retired)

Abstract: This workshop focused on the practical aspects of ethics in forensic science. Lecture material offered insight into the various types of codes, their features and purpose, and the differences and similarities between the codes of over twenty forensic associations. Concepts dealing with professional relations and competent practice were discussed, as were issues surrounding filing or being the subject of an ethics allegation. Students were given several scenarios, taken from or inspired by real-life incidents. The students were then be asked to define the ethical issues at stake, weigh them against the contents of ethics codes from several professional organizations, and justify their conclusions that an ethical violation had, or had not, occurred.

Human vs. Nonhuman Bones: A Practical Guide

Elizabeth Miller, Ph.D., California State University, Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Dept. of Coroner

Abstract: Forensic field practitioners are often faced with the identification of bone, particularly on the determination of human vs. nonhuman status. This workshop discussed the differences between human and nonhuman bone and used stations with bone specimens to test the knowledge of participants after the lecture.

Investigation Data Capture and Analysis Tools

Ludwig Benner Jr., Starline Software, Ltd.

Abstract: This lecture presented tools for structuring, documenting, organizing, and analyzing investigation data, together with the research background, underlying concepts, principles, and procedures for using them. The lecture included examples of the step by step application of the tools, using data tendered by attendees.

The IAI CSR Certification Program and The New BPA Proficiency and Competency Testing Program

Ross Gardner and Tom Griffin

Abstract: Explained the new International Association for Identification Crime Scene Reconstruction Certification program. Explained the new Bevel, Gardner & Associates competency and proficiency web-based testing program for Bloodstain Pattern Analysis.

The Pathologist and Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Dr. Christopher Milroy MD, LLB, FRCPath, FRCPC, DMJ, The Ottawa Hospital, and University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Abstract: Blood pattern analysis is a now an established area of crime scene examination. This work has traditionally been performed by criminalists. Forensic pathologists determine the presence of injuries and the effects they have on the body. The interpretation of scene findings and blood patterns requires analysis of the forensic pathology findings. This presentation discussed the role of the forensic pathologist at the scene in blood pattern and expected findings in different types of injuries.

The Thrill of the Chase

Lieutenant Jonathyn W. Priest, Denver Police Department

Abstract: In the first moments of realizing success, people experience an anxious feeling of excitement in their stomach. Despair is a similar feeling, but occurring with the realization of failure. Law enforcement officers are often familiar with this feeling of success during the beginnings of an investigation, and then the chase and the subsequent capture of a suspect. Occasionally, however, they recognize despair. This unfortunately occurs when a case fails at trial secondary to a poor or inadequate investigation.

A complete investigation is just that – a total and inclusive examination of a particular criminal incident. When law enforcement stops at the end of the chase, they might not realize a victory. Police officers and investigators alike relish the thrill of the chase; yet relax once the perpetrator resides in their custody.

Law enforcement would do well to remember the words of Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness in “The Untouchables”: “Many things are half the battle. Losing is half the battle. Let’s think about what’s the whole battle.”

This case study of a 1999 sex assault homicide examines the whole case. It begins with the initial crime scene investigation, proceeds to the arduous pursuit of a killer, examines the tedious scientific examinations, and closes with the challenging trial and ultimate verdict.

Wound Types: What They Can and Can’t Tell You

Craig Nelson, MD, San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office

Abstract: This course examined the basics of 3 different classes of wounds (gunshot/ shotgun, sharp force, and blunt force), with discussion of wound characteristics and how they are made. Emphasis was placed on information that can and cannot be inferred from different types of wounds, such as range of fire, the limitations of patterned injuries, and considerations of matching weapons to wounds. In doing so, the presenter discussed what can be known about a wound versus what can only be speculated, in hopes of conveying what information can be testified to in court with reasonable certainty.