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In almost all homicide cases, the blood is considered to be the most common physical evidence that the investigators will find in the crime scene. The blood is considered to be the most vital physical evidence that can be taken for forensic analysis to help solve crimes and in reconstructing the crime scene. Geberth (2007) emphasizes the crucial role of bloodstain analysis in aiding the investigators when trying to understand what happened between the victim and assailant, such as creating the sequence of events. The patterns of bloodstain as evidence on a crime scene can illustrate the victim’s position and helps show whether there is a struggle that takes place.
In one case of involuntary manslaughter with the use of firearm, Dimeo and Taupin (2012) explained how the bloodstain pattern analysis on the clothes of the accused linked his presence on the crime scene. According to the case report, the accused and the victim are living together in an apartment with some history of domestic disturbance. On March 2009, the police received a call from the accused reporting a shooting accident involving the victim. The accused was waiting outside the apartment when the police arrived claiming that he did not see the shooting and only found the victim in the bedroom. The police found the victim lying dead on the floor with bloodstains on the visible areas of his body and the front of his shorts. The bloodstain patterns appear to be arterial bloodstains, which were also present on the door of the small refrigerator, on a clothes hamper and curtains. The investigators traced the arterial bloodstain coming from the bedroom, on the hallway and the front room. The police arrested the accused because they noted some blood at the back of his shirt, blue jeans and on top of his shoes. They believe that the patterns of blood seen from the clothings of the accused are consistent with arterial spurting. The autopsy report revealed that the victim sustained four gunshot wounds with the bullet entering the left upper arm that perforated the left brachial artery and the lungs. The bullet then lodged on the muscles behind the chest cavity. The bloodstain analysis involves studying the arterial blood stain patterns and the altered flow patterns seen on the front door showing that the victim bled from the entry wound on his upper left arm on vertical surfaces in the front room and hallway entrance. Based on the bloodstain patterns, the bloodstain analyst concluded that the victim was shot from the front door and he moved to the hallway until he reached the bedroom where he collapsed.
The morphology of the arterial bloodstain patterns observed from the shirt of the accused, the stains of blood on his back shirt between the shoulder blades and the bottom of the shirt, and on the left rear pant pocket and the lower front of the pant leg with drip stains on the top surfaces of both his shoes are revealing. These patterns of blood were consistently identified to have been deposited when the victim was bleeding from a perforated left brachial artery where the accused was standing upright near the victim. There were sufficient pressure coming from the bleeding artery that explains why bloodstains reached the back area of the shirt of the accused. Spurts and gushes are classic patterns of an arterial bleeding because the blood flowing on the arteries are under more pressure as compared to the veins (Bevel and Gardner, 2008). The linear projection of the blood at the back of the shirt of the accused with projected bloodstain on the lower back right panels were found to be caused by gravity and is consistent with the morphology of an arterial bleeding with projected blood that are sufficient enough to produce the bloodstain flow patterns on the back of the shirt. The composition of the garment was also analyzed, which was made of cotton and plain knit. This type of garments are found to have moderate absorption properties that helped the bloodstain analysis easier because it does not distort the spatter of blood significantly. The hypothesis of arterial bleeding also strengthens the assumption that the accused was standing facing the victim when the latter was shot as shown by the projected bloodstains on the front left leg of his pants which was made of a cotton denim that does not significantly distorted the blood drops and the drops of blood on top of his shoes. After establishing the presence of the accused in the crime scene when the shooting happened, the accused pleaded guilty during the first day of the trial.
The objective of applying the principles of bloodstain analysis is to use biology, physics and mathematics through the direct observation of the physical evidence and/or the evaluation of the scene of the crime (James, Kish and Sutton, 2005) as applied in the case. The bloodstain analysis was performed in conjunction with a thorough study and evaluation of the post-mortem and autopsy report of the victim. The bloodstain analysis helped the investigators contradict the assertion of the accused that he was not present when the shooting happened. The bloodstain patterns helped establish the presence of the accused at the crime scene when it happened. As noted by Brodbeck (2012), the analysis of the bloodstain patterns involves the systematic assessment of the visual patterns of the bloodstain based on the physics of fluids. Among the analysis involved include the evaluation and assessment of the distribution, size, and shape of the bloodstain. The most basic and simplified theory applied in the bloodstain analysis principle is one providing that blood as a fluid responds to variants of external and internal forces in a predictable manner. Under a controlled condition called patterns, the analyst can evaluate the mechanisms of blood masses in response to the stains produced under the bloody scenes of the crime which is the unknown pattern. Gardner (2012) explained that the predictability on how the blood behaves under known conditions helps enlighten the analyst about what happened to the unknown, where the scientific principles of gravity and fluid behavior are applied, in addition to recognizing the directional impact and the alterations that may occur under certain environmental conditions.
Through the application of the bloodstain analysis principles, the crime investigators are aided in reconstructing the scene of the crime that helps them answer the questions of how the event occurs, where the event happened, what are the sequence of the crime, who are present at the scene of the crime and who are not, and to establish what did not occur at the crime scene. Vital information may be revealed through the analysis of the bloodstain pattern. It can provide a lead in determining the positions of the victim and the assailant, the direction and type of the blow applied on the victim, and even to support or contradict the statements given by witnesses and the accused. The approach used in bloodstain analysis involves the application of scientific methods that require the expertise of highly trained laboratory specialists with education in forensic discipline. The lack of training in the field of bloodstain analysis can affect the outcomes of the investigation and the reliability of the bloodstain analysis results. The National Institutite of Justice (2004) indicated that the bloodstain pattern analysis is highly dependent on good crime scene documentation and the collection of relevant physical evidence, including the collection of 90 degree photography, bloodstain swabbing and mapping of the bloodstain patterns. The inability to collect and preserve the bloodstain pattern evidences appropriately can make the bloodstain analysis approach inutile. Among the significant requirements that can make the bloodstain analysis principle useful in the crime scene investigation include the training and education of the analysts, uniform standards and procedures, proper casework examination, reliable evidence documentation, and testimonies. In order to strengthen the outcomes of the bloodstain analysis as a forensic tool for evidence, Wonder (2007) emphasizes its application within a teamwork concept. In most homicide cases, the bloodstain analyst and the detectives work together in the investigation. Homicide detectives also need the post mortem report and need to collect the physical evidences and testimonies and collaborate them to the bloodstain patterns in order to reconstruct the crime scene. This is important in homicide cases where the testimony of the bloodstain analysts may be challenged. It can be noted that the court gives higher credit to the scientific expert testimonies, but the same may be challenged on the ground of prejudice. The collaborative outcomes of the bloodstain analysis result together with the other physical evidences, oral testimonies and other documented evidences will help resolve or outweigh the risks of undue prejudice that can affect the probative value of the evidence.
The scientific discipline of bloodstain analysis is therefore very useful in crime investigations. The scientific methods used in the bloodstain analysis can provide a breakthrough in solving cases, especially when the crime investigators have no lead when solving crimes. It can facilitate the investigation process and trial in homicide cases as in the case discussed above. Blood, being the most common physical evidence that can shed light to the crime events, should be taken as a crucial lead in solving crimes. The methodology used in bloodstain analysis provides a reliable forensic tool in crime investigations that helps put the pieces of the sequence of events in the crime together. Professional education and years of training in this field are required before one becomes an expert bloodstain analyst but the collaborative efforts of the crime investigators and the ability to preserve the physical evidence and other documentary pieces of evidence are also vital in strengthening the valuable contribution of bloodstain analysis in forensic science and criminal investigations.
Bevel, T and Gardner, R. (2008). Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. Third Ed. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.
Brodbeck, S. (2012). Introduction to Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. SIAK Journal – Journal for Police Science and Practice. 2:51-57.
Dimeo, L.A. and Taupin, J. (2012). Arterial Bloodstain Patterns on Clothing – An Interesting Case Linking The Accused to the Scene. Journal of Blood Stain Pattern Analysis. 28 (2): 3-10.
Gardner, R.M. (2012). Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation. 2nd Edition. Florida: CRC Press.
Geberth, V.J. (2007). Practical Homicide Investigation. Law and Order. 55 (3).
James, S.H., Kish, P.E. and Sutton, T.P. (2005). Principles of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. Theory and Practice. Florida: CRC Press.
The National Institutite of Justice (2004). Status and Needs of Forensic Science Service Providers: A Report to Congress. Pennsylvania: Diane Publishing.
Wonder, A. (2007). Bloodstain Pattern Evidence: Objective Approaches and Case Applications. California: Elsevier.
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