The patterns left by blood can be interpreted by individuals with the proper training. In addition to interpreting spatter, members can use reagents to detect the presence of blood. In order to ensure that the evidence collected at the scene originates with those present at the time of the crime and not at a later time, FIU members control the introduction of contaminants.
Every person who enters the scene can bring with them contaminating transfer evidence picked up at other locations. Controlling against this introduction of contamination is one reason you might be confronted with the familiar yellow police tape at a crime scene.
The funny white suits serve the same purpose, protecting the scene from contaminants that FIU members might bring with them. DNA is still a fairly new forensic science that continues to develop at a rapid pace.
Course: Forensics 911 Basics of Forensic Criminal Investigation
As techniques improve, the amount of sample needed to identify DNA is becoming smaller and smaller. FIU members are trained to detect, preserve and collect fingerprints and then to identify the source of these prints. There are a number of different types of fingerprints, some of which include visible, latent, moulded, take away and deposited. To detect these prints, FIU members use a variety of techniques, which include the use of powders and florescent powders, alternate light sources and chemicals.
FIU members receive extensive training in fingerprint comparison and become experts in identifying individuals from fingerprints recovered at crime scenes. Footwear can be identified in much the same manner as fingerprints. When footwear is manufactured, the sole pattern is unique to that shoe or boot style. This pattern is known as a class characteristic. As soon it is worn, footwear develops wear patterns that are unique to the owner and the surfaces walked on, known as accidental characteristics.
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The uniqueness of these two characteristics can enable footwear to be identified. If impressions or prints of the suspect's footwear are left at the scene, FIU members can collect this evidence and attempt to compare it to the footwear of a known suspect. This course is designed to introduce the candidate to the basic theories of the different types of forensic evidence. Although it is designed as a primer for students participating in the Police Foundations and Law and Security Administration Programs, the course is also intended as a resource for members of the law enforcement, legal, communications and creative writing communities.
The theories of identification, fingerprinting, crime scene management, laboratory resources, DNA evidence and forensic art will be discussed. The student will be taught to recognize the value of fingerprints and DNA as means of solving crime. They will also be taught to recognize the value of varied types of other trace forensic evidence also found at crime scenes. You assumed that the work in putting the evidence together and in offering the testimony was proper. There could be mistakes, and you understood there could be challenges, but you didn't assume what we later uncovered, which was that there were systemic, serious problems with respect to certain of the disciplines.
In the small town of Brooksville, Mississippi, a series of brutal murders tested the limits of this controversial forensic technique. Levon Brooks remembers a day in September, , like it was yesterday. They didn't tell me nothing.
Crime Scene Investigator Job Description
Brooks was the ex-boyfriend of the girl's mother, and the police wanted to talk to him. So I ain't had no problem with that. So then they said they want to do a dental impression on me. And I said, "OK, fine. Steven Hayne, conducted the girl's autopsy. He suspected there were bite marks on her wrist, and he recommended that this man, Michael West, a forensic dentist, examine her.
And then, like, a week later, my lawyer came to me and told me, said, "We got a little bad news. But during the trial, the bite marks, the only physical evidence linking Brooks to the crime, trumped the defense's eyewitness testimony. I couldn't even believe it.
Crime Scene Investigation
My mother told me, she said, "I know you didn't do that, but I want you to hold your head up, and God going to bring you out. Her body was found in a nearby stream. Her autopsy was also performed by Dr. Steven Hayne, who was called to testify about his findings. With an eerie similarity to the earlier case, Dr.
Hours of Operation:
Hayne testified that he saw what he believed to be bite marks on the girl's body. And the forensic dentist, Michael West, testified that those bite marks came from this man, Kennedy Brewer, the boyfriend of the girl's mother. Brewer was convicted and sent to the Mississippi state penitentiary, to be executed.
And in each of those cases, a whole group of forensic odontologists, forensic dentists, said they were absolutely certain that this was the guy, and they were absolutely wrong. Neufeld says that most of those convictions involved the use of what he calls "invalid" science. It's something made up—. Frankly, not just one judge, but judges all over the country allowed that testimony because it came in from guys in white lab coats.
Unlike many of the forensic sciences which were developed by law enforcement, DNA analysis was developed by medical science, and has been subjected to decades of rigorous scrutiny. DNA really is the only discipline among the forensic disciplines that consistently produces results that you can rely on with a fair level of confidence. PETER NEUFELD: When we looked at all the cases of people who have been exonerated by DNA evidence, we found that in 60 percent of those cases, experts who testified for the prosecution produced either invalid evidence or the misapplication of science in their testimony.
We're talking about using techniques, using equipment that's never been validated scientifically. And sometimes that means pushing the boundaries of forensic science, even in the most high-profile cases. Her mother finally admitted that she's been missing. The prosecution had no eyewitnesses, no murder weapon and no cause of death. What they did have was a theory that emerged after the call. I found my daughter's car today, and it smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car! They sought the death penalty.
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Now he wanted to use a new forensic method to convince the jury that the smell in the trunk of that car was the "smell of death. I smelled it myself. And I can tell you, having smelled it in my career many, many times, it's very recognizable. And I noticed it. This sort of sat in the middle of the trunk.
There was a stained area on the carpet that appeared to be the source of the odor, and that piece of carpet was sent in a sealed condition to Dr. He has been studying human decomposition at the University of Tennessee's "body farm" under grants from the federal government. The prosecution called Dr.
Vass to testify as an expert on the odor of the dead. He analyzed an air sample from the trunk of Casey Anthony's car that had been sealed in a can. Vass's 20 years of research have all been in the biochemistry of decomposition, attempting to isolate those compounds that are unique to human decomposition.
And what he said was that the odor that was chemically analyzed from the trunk was consistent with human decomposition. And yet he let this go to the jury. And quite frankly, in my opinion, it was an outrage. He attacked the ability of Dr.
Duty Description for the Crime Scene Investigator
Vass to scientifically identify the smell of death. Unless you can clearly show that a prosecution is presenting evidence that is faulty, you're running into a danger zone. Let's say, for example, the prosecution presents one witness that says something, and they're relying on an expert, and the defense puts their own expert to explain that it's junk science. Who are you going to believe? EDWARDS: I think it's a little bit naive to think that the adversarial system will have smart lawyers on both sides and they'll duke it out, and we'll figure out the right answer.
We need the science first. And then let them fight about what the good science means, as opposed to struggling with disciplines that don't have good science undergirding them. Judges are scientifically illiterate. And certainly juries are. So there has to be a fix upstream to make sure that before any evidence gets to a court of law, that it has been validated, that it is reliable, that it does meet national standards, and that we can all have confidence in the— in the result.
So there has to be a fix upstream before any evidence gets into a court of law. I just have to disagree. For Mr.
Neufeld to say, "Well, lawyers are stupid and judges are stupid, so we shouldn't admit this evidence," is stupid. That's ridiculous. It really is. When you bring a piece of evidence into a court of law, good women and good men that are trained as judges weigh the evidence. Juries can look people in the eye, and they can determine whether or not they trust it. And that's our system. And that's exactly what we—. Cyril Wecht, considered by many to be among the top forensic scientists in the country.
I often quip that we are up there now with sex, motherhood, apple pie and baseball. I think we're in the top 10, forensic science. Wecht, has been a controversial character and something of a local folk hero. I mean, he's been there for years. He's dealing with these decomposing, smelly bodies every day in his professional life. If he's not qualified to express an opinion on what a body smells like that is decomposing, then who in the world is?
Whether they can testify or not is up to a judge. They're an expert. The only system we have is an expert who happens to come back before the same judge. But there's not even a way of getting information from one case to another. There's no national organization for that at all. I've heard it said that there's more licensing requirements for your hairdresser than for forensic scientists. It's convenient for a judge to say, "This proposed expert has been credentialed by the sump-tee-ump society. Wecht is the chairman of the executive advisory board, and chief spokesman, for one of the largest forensic credentialing organizations in the country, the American College of Forensic Examiners International, ACFEI.
But the National Academy of Sciences report, which recommends mandatory certification of forensic experts, states that some certifying organizations "appear to lack stringent requirements. At the University of California, Berkeley, a graduate student in the investigative reporting program, Leah Bartos, was assigned to find out what it takes to become certified by the ACFEI.
A few videos and a study packet were provided to prepare for the test. You can now start using your Certified Forensic Consultant designation, and your diploma will be in the mail. There was a lot of criticism of the organization in general, even though it appears to be the largest membership organization of its kind.
The purpose of the organization is to encourage people who are interested in forensic science to learn more, to study more.