Archive for the ‘Forensic Photography’ Category

Forensic Photography

March 29, 2012

Forensic Photography Recently I had the opportunity to document a child abuse case and follow through with the incident from triage straight through resolution. I actually had the opportunity to put to practical use what I have been studying in the texts. Although obtaining photographs is not new to our facility, we do have a stricter policy and procedure in place, including a photo log that has to be documented along with the digital camera cassette. These are sent to medical records for development and labeling. Although the child had five injuries from a supposed fall off a couch against a coffee table, the injuries were circumferential about the skull. We measured and documented all the wounds and ended up taking twelve photographs to get good resolution of some of the sites. In retrospect, however, I realize that we should have had the tape measure in the picture itself. That is something I will address next time I take pictures. We obtained consent from the mother (which was documented), obtained the investigator’s name, CPS worker name, etc., and otherwise I think we did a fairly good job. In the end, the officer felt he had enough of a case to arrest the significant other of the child’s mother for abuse. Since all the injuries were either abrasions or ecchymotic areas, only “before” photos were taken, i.e. before the CT scan, since no intervention other than antibiotic ointment was needed. Supposedly, per the mother’s initial report, the child, who was 15 months old, had fallen off the couch and hit her head on the coffee table, sustaining and abrasion above her left eye. She also had a 3 cm ecchymotic area on her sphenoid wing. This is a believable story. However, on examination, I noticed, an ecchymotic area laterals to her right orbit, petechial abrasions on the inner auricle (not on the pinna at all) of her right ear, and a 4 cm petechial-like abrasion on her right occiput. When I questioned the mother about this, she calmly responded that “she falls a lot.” I asked her if she was delayed in her walking, and she said yes. To me, this was unusual. Most toddlers are up and running by this time. Even my youngest son, who had 2 older siblings who loved to carry him around, was running the halls by this time. I had been concerned because my oldest was walking at 8 months, while this one didn’t feel compelled to start until 13 months, but then there was no stopping him! Her story just did not make sense to me. The ear injury was also odd. How can a child only injure the inside of the ear without abrading the pinna? For this reason, I took about 3 shots of the ear alone. The digital cameras are nice because they have the close up feature to focus and we got some really good shots. Hopefully, we obtained some credible evidence for prosecution. References Lynch, Virginia A. and Duval, Janet Barber. (2006). Forensic Nursing. St. Louis: Elsevier Mosby.

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“Articulating a Concise Scientific Methodology for Bloodstain Pattern Analysis”

March 24, 2009

Journal of Forensic Identification
Vol. 55 No. 4 July/August 2005

“Articulating a Concise Scientific Methodology for Bloodstain Pattern Analysis”

There have been an increasing number of challenges in our court system encompassing many areas of forensic science. It is more imperative now to be as articulate as possible in describing a methodology for any forensic discipline. Therefore many forensic scientists are re-examining their methods of explaining analyses.

This article attempts to describe a bloodstain pattern analysis in a way that judges and attorneys can understand, in an attempt to decrease the questioning of its scientific validity. Although Bloodstain Pattern Analysis is considered a “pseudoscience” and less scientific than other areas of science, there are some basic and accepted scientific principles that can be identified when examining the process of “B.P.A.”. The methodology typically used has eight steps, which falls in the range of four to eleven steps in a scientific method. In this forensic discipline there is not one single or definite method used, however simply by following a method shows that they are based on solid scientific principles.

The eight-step method described in this article is as follows:
1-Data collection
2-Case review
3-Isolation /Description of patterns
4-Formulation of hypothesis
5-Testing of hypothesis
6-Formulation of theories
7-Testing of theories
8-Conclusion and results

Although the data collection is extensive, it may include photos of the crime scene and it’s victims, lab and autopsy reports, witness interviews with rough sketches and all physical evidence, once you proceed to step three all blood stain patterns which were collected are isolated and analyzed objectively with no attempt to infer any meaning until all testing is done.

In my opinion this is a challenging subject to try and articulate to judge and jury, because there can be so many scenarios resulting from all the patterns and theories tested. It is few and far between when a bloodstain analyst can come up with a single definitive scenario that can explain everything. When you have one or more “what ifs” it lessens the credibility of your testimony. I think they should focus on the facts being that most cases can provide definite elimination or exclusion of particular scenarios, which is valuable information when validating either the prosecution’s or defense’s case. Therefore, the conclusion given is the most likely scenario based upon the evidence and testing done.

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