2011 ACSR Conference Abstracts

The 2011 ACSR conference was held in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.

An Introduction to HemoSpat

Andy Maloney, FORident Software

Abstract: HemoSpat is a software product which is used to determine the area of origin of a bloodshed incident based on photos of impact spatter and scene documentation. The purpose of this workshop was to give the attendees an overview of the software’s basic capabilities and to provide them hands-on experience with HemoSpat.

A general outline of the workshop is as follows:

  1. Introduction/Background
  2. A Tour of the Interface
  3. (Hands-On) Analysis of a Pattern
  4. (Hands-On) Viewing Your Data
  5. Summary/Questions/Comments/Suggestions

The software is designed for analysts who have completed at least a basic 40-hour bloodstain course, however, this workshop was open to non-BPA people who are interested.

Bloodstain Pattern Taxonomy: A Methodology for Simple and Complex Stain Classification

Ross Gardner, MA, CSCSA and Tom Griffin, BA, CSCSA, CBPE Bevel, Gardner & Associates

Abstract: This workshop presented the taxonomical system introduced in Bevel & Gardner’s Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, With an Introduction to Crime Scene Reconstruction, 3rd Ed. (with their permission). This system provides a decision matrix used when analyzing simple or complex stains to reach a classification of the stain or pattern. The system and its classification matrix were introduced and then participants had an opportunity to use the decision tree to classify a wide variety of stains and patterns.

Crime Scene Analysis & Reconstruction

Tom Bevel, MA and Michael Maloney, MFS Bevel, Gardner & Associates

Abstract: Crime Scene Analysis has two phases. The first is practiced while at the crime scene. It is informal and gives direction for the investigation and scene processing. The second phase is done after the crime scene is processed, the collected evidence is analyzed, and all reports are completed. The second phase is a formal process and employs the scientific method as an accepted methodology. This workshop will teach the second, formal phase, of crime scene analysis. This process forces the investigator to consider all viable ways an action could have been accomplished. The analyst then forms hypotheses for each of the possibilities, test each possibility against the scene evidence and its analysis in order to identify the “best explanation” for each of the investigative questions being analyzed. The final step is to “flow chart” each of the actions for court presentation.

This workshop exposed the participants to a cursory overview of Event Analysis using adjudicated case examples to practice this methodology.

Forensic Digital Lighting

Ron, Taniwaki, Nikon Forensic Services

Abstract: In this workshop, students learned how to use a variety of lighting techniques for documenting a crime scene. The techniques covered included proper use of Speedlights (flash) both on camera and off, balancing ambient light and flash exposures, photographing large-scale nighttime crime scenes by painting with Speedlights and spotlights, and basic close-up lighting. Additional topics covered included existing light, flash, flash synchronization, manual flash, automatic flash, TTL flash, i-TTL flash, tungsten fill flash, fluorescent fill flash, direct flash, bounce flash, zoom flash, feather flash, TTL cords, off camera flash, modelling flash, wireless i-TTL, close up lighting, diffusion, R1C1, painting with light, luminol, power supplies, grip and grin lighting tips, and red eye.

Forensic Photography: Digital Basic Forensic Photography

Ron Taniwaki, Nikon Forensic Services

Abstract: This class was structured for departments that already own digital SLR cameras. Students reviewed and practiced the basics of exposure and camera handling techniques as they pertain to forensic photography. Some of the items and concepts covered included control layout, camera handling, exposure, shutter speeds, apertures, depth of focus, exposure equivalents, ISO, exposure compensation, histograms, highlights display, manual, shutter priority, aperture priority, program, lenses, focal length, angle of view, perspective, lens speed, auto focusing, focus lock, and electronic rangefinders.

Hijacked Naval Vessel Scene Investigation & and the Impact of Forensic Reconstruction

Elizabeth Toomer, MFS, NCIS Forensic Sciences Division

Abstract: This presentation discussed the legal challenges faced by U.S. law enforcement policing international waters in response to naval vessel hijacking. Specific challenges and methodologies employed by U.S. law enforcement and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are addressed in detail with emphasis on the efforts to reconstruct ship- based crime scenes in a dynamic environment.

Orator: A Non-Linear Alternative to Courtroom Presentations

Hector Gonzales, Orator Plus Software, Inc.

Abstract: During this workshop we discussed and demonstrated current technologies such as LiDAR scanning of crime scenes, SketchUp® 3D modelling for scenes and mapping of other data, Google® Earth and geo-referencing of 3D models and information, and Orator Plus® media convergence tool. Orator Plus is a tool which allows a user to merge different types of data files into one cohesive and completely portable project. The final project requires no installation and has a zero footprint when shut down. When running, media may be associated with each other in different windows to show association or situational awareness. Built-in white boarding and support for a touch interface and drag and drop capability make the tool invaluable for crime scene case building or presentation or other functions such as AAR, briefs, or route analysis.

Photogrammetry & 3D Modeling: Applications to Crime Scene Reconstruction

Michael Knox & Associates

Abstract: The process of crime scene reconstruction requires the analyst to model real-world events in a static environment that can be used not only for analysis but also for courtroom presentation. In the past, much of this modelling has been done in real-world settings, either at the actual crime scene or in a full-scale mockup.

A number of tools have emerged in recent years that make computer virtualization a cost-effective, user-friendly way of reconstructing criminal events through the use of close-range photogrammetry and three-dimensional computer modelling. These tools provide rapid virtualization techniques that can be integrated into virtually any crime scene reconstruction.

This session focused on the use of PhotoModeler® 3-D photogrammetry software to reconstruct criminal events. PhotoModeler® allows a user to obtain accurate measurements of a crime scene or item of evidence with minimal effort. Photogrammetry allows for highly accurate measurements to be taken of scenes and evidence and can be used for measuring and modelling bloodstain patterns, bullet holes, and trajectory linear models.

Photogrammetry in Post Scene Analysis and Reconstruction: Determining Spatial Relationships

Edward Robinson, MFS, Assistant Professor, George Washington University, Washington, DC and Julie Ott, MFS Candidate, George Washington University, Washington, DC

Abstract: The practice of determining special relationships from a photograph, photogrammetry, is a technique nearly as mature as photography. Forensic science specifically benefits from photogrammetry for crime scene reconstruction applications. Rhinoceros 3D® software was designed to create three-dimensional models for designers, but its applications can be expanded to include crime scene reconstruction. With the use of this software and three measurements from the scene, defining the plane that evidence is located on, any distance may be extrapolated from a photograph. This enables crime scene investigation work to be completed in a fraction of the time typically required to determine the spatial relationship of evidence to its environment using baseline or triangulation measurements. Spending less time measuring can be very advantageous for those crime scenes located in war zones or when adverse weather conditions threaten a crime scene.

Research Presentation: Digital Mapping of Differential Oxidation Arising From Fingerprint Sweat Deposits

John Bond, PhD and Trudy Loe, Scientific Support Unit, Northamptonshire Police, Northhampton, England

Abstract: Conventional techniques to enhance latent fingerprints require some form of physical or chemical interaction between an enhancing reagent and the secreted fingerprint. The secretions, therefore, still have to be present to visualize the fingerprint. We discuss visualization of fingerprints on metal surfaces after the sweat deposit has been removed by washing. This is achieved by exploiting the corrosive reaction that occurs between the metal surface and fingerprint sweat, which results in a change to both the chemical and physical characteristics of the metal surface. Visualization is achieved by applying a potential to the metal (>1 kV) followed by the introduction of a conducting carbon powder onto the metal surface. Conducting powder adheres preferentially to the areas of corrosion thus enabling the fingerprint to be visualized. Fingerprints deposited on brass cartridge cases pre-firing can be visualized post-firing (and after the cartridge cases had been cleaned) by the use of this technique.

The Significance of Touch DNA in a Capital Murder Reconstruction

Thomas Brady, MFS, NCIS Forensic Sciences Division

Abstract: NCIS SA Tom Brady presented a case study where he completed a bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) for a blunt force trauma death. The victim was dragged a considerable distance from the site of the initial assault to a wooded area for disposal. Although an extensive BPA case which weaved together much forensic evidence, touch DNA obtained from the deceased at the autopsy assisted in the reconstruction process and helped secure a guilty plea to avoid the death penalty.

Touch DNA: Forensic Collection and Applications in Forensic Investigations

Angela Williamson, PhD, Director of Forensic Casework and Assistant Vice President, Bode Technology

Abstract: Touch DNA refers to the DNA that is left behind from skin cells when a per- son touches or comes into contact with an item. Since Touch DNA is usually deposited in smaller amounts than the DNA found in bloodstains or other body fluids, it is more difficult to obtain DNA profiles from these samples. The key to obtaining successful Touch DNA results depends on recognizing items which may be suitable for Touch DNA analysis and using the sampling technique that will recover the highest number of cells. Through improvements in sampling methods corresponding to increasingly sensitive DNA testing methods, and through continual education of the criminal justice community regarding the testing possibilities, Touch DNA is enabling forensic scientists to provide information in cases which were once unsolvable. This presentation focused on the various sampling methods that can be used to collect Touch DNA, success rates, case studies, and recommendations for use in casework.

Underwater Crime Scene Examination: Innovative Research, Protocol & Complex Scene Search Methodologies

H. Dale Nute, PhD, and Mark Feulner, MA MS UCSI, Florida State University

Abstract: The discipline of crime scene investigation (CSI) like the rest of forensic science has focused predominately on technology rather than theory. For the most part this has worked for over a century, however, Daubert and its progeny mandate that all expert witnesses must be able to justify their theoretical basis. An organized approach is only one aspect of science but it is one criterion.

Breaking the search down into its parts allows each to be examined for improvement. Search procedures include techniques for controlling the search and methods for detecting the evidence during the search. Both are highly situation dependent and the variety of potential situations requires a range of protocols particularly when the scene is too complex or too large to approach without formal planning. This workshop addressed procedures to facilitate the planning for these extraordinary scenes.

Visualization of Linear Cast-off Patterns

Andy Maloney, FORident Software

Abstract: Currently cast-off patterns are identified at the scene and then documented using photos and a description of the pattern and this is the only information included in a bloodstain report. As an analyst standing at the scene, one can visualize roughly where in the room the person was standing when they were swinging the bloodied object which created the pattern as well as the approximate plane of motion of the swing. So how do we record, analyze, and present this information to communicate it to others, particularly those that have not been at the scene?

This talk outlined a method of analyzing linear cast-off patterns to produce an approximate plane of motion suitable for a 3D scene reconstruction.

Wound Mapping: A Reconstruction Technique

Michael Maloney, MFS, Bevel, Gardner & Associates

Abstract: Wound mapping is a simple process drawn from the original concept of the bloodstain pattern road mapping technique developed by Toby L. Wolson of the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Crime Laboratory. This method allows for a consistent method of documenting injuries to the body both on scene and at autopsy in a manner that allows for precise photographic analysis during reconstruction. This method is particularly helpful when multiple wounds are documented and when they must later be correlated to victim position and any dynamic movement indicated during the event.

This session would have been of particular interest to forensic pathologists, death scene investigators, crime scene analysts, death scene reconstructionists and medical photographers. The technique was illustrated through a case example.