The Location And Position Of The Body Essay
The scenario is a shooting situation inside a home. A man is found lying on his bed to his left side, with a gunshot wound to the right side of his head and the weapon is on the floor. The bed is directly faced against the wall of the bedroom. There are bloodstains on the weapon, bed, victim and wall. The purpose of this paper is to identify, document and collect the blood spatter data for analysis. Moreover, the paper also requires comprehensive presentation of the blood analysis evidence in court and withstands the brunt of the defense team in cross examination.
The victim’s body is placed on the left side of the bed. The lack of blood staining suggests that the body had been moved and placed on the bed. This is an interesting observation since the murderer most likely had the victim’s blood transferred to his clothes.
The murder weapon is on the floor and it is covered in blood. However, the blood on the gun is located only at the back strap, grip and grip panel; an indication that it might belong to the killer.
Blood spatter marks and other blood related evidence
The blood spatter pattern resembles that of a spray which is consistent with the theory of a short to medium range shooting. The trajectory of the blood pattern also indicates that the killer shot the victim while facing him from the right side of the bed. Interestingly, there is an entire void space measuring almost two meters between the blood spatter near the bed and the ones spotted near the door; looks like a piece of furniture might be missing. There were at least six bloody footprints inside the house. There were also two separate drip trails (Bevel & Gardner, 2002); one of them starts at the scene of the crime towards the kitchen and the other is noticed leading from the kitchen to the backyard fence.
Documenting the scene – Crime scene photos
All the evidence is first photographed. The shoe prints and blood trail stains are photographed with a geometric ruler placed near it to ascertain the origin of the blood.
Collection of biological physical evidence
The victim’s blood was most likely washed off at the bathroom hence, a luminal test is conducted. The entire bathtub lit up when the ultraviolet lights were turned on. The tub was photographed. There were blood drips on the bathroom floors that also lit up during the luminal test. There were also photographed.
Collection of blood evidence
Several sections’ of carpet in the victim’s house have been cut and packed in evidence collection bags. These bags will be analyzed at the lab. The blood on the murder weapon, bathtub, victim’s clothes and drip trips has been swabbed for DNA testing.
Filling up chain of custody form
The forensic lab analysis reveals the events that unraveled on the day of the homicide. The victim was looking through the chest of drawers (type of furniture missing from the room) when a known/unknown assailant surprised him. The victim fought back and attempted to wrestle the gun away from the killer. Despite inflicting a bloody wound to the killers face (most likely), the killer managed to shoot and kill the victim. The killer then moved the body to the bathroom in an attempt to wash away any transference of physical evidence. He then moved the body to the left side of the bed and left the gun that was already lying on the ground.
It is unclear why he left the weapon behind (perhaps a power failure) and for some reason took the furniture with him. Earlier photos of the room obtained from the family of the deceased show an expensive antique desk cupboard. This is a lucky break since if it is traced; it would link the killer to it from the victim’s blood that spattered over it. The blood on the murder has been identified as not being that of the victim. The DNA on the drip trail leading from the kitchen and the towels matched with the DNA found on the gun.
The blood spatter pattern on the walls belongs to two different incidents that took place with a very close timeline. This also supports the theory of the victim actually hitting the killer before he was killed. The blood stained shoe prints have been identified as that of a Nike running shoe. It is an expensive pair. Crime scene photos also indicate the dust lining of the antique cupboard that is missing.
The DNA obtained from the towels and the murder weapon had similar strands indicating that the killer might be someone in the family. The course of events was analyzed using Backtrack and the same conclusion was reached. The reason (most likely family estate) this killer took the antique desk makes more sense. The apprehending process of this killer can also be narrowed down (Saferstein, 2009).
Direct Examination by Prosecution
The evidence is presented to the court by the District Attorney (DA); who then calls the forensic technician to the witness stand and corroborates his theory on how the events unraveled on the day of the murder.
DE-1: What is your job title, what type of crime scenes have you been processed and how long have you been working in your current position?
I am a crime scene forensic lab technician. I have processed crime scenes pertaining to homicides, kidnapping, rape, suicides and automobile accident sites. I have worked in this position for the last eight years.
DE-2: What type of training do you have in this field?
I am a blood spatter pattern analyst. I have been trained to examine the trail of blood visible and invisible (visible through luminal). Find blood that had been washed away with the help of luminal. I also have a diploma with the University of Mississippi for Backtrack.
DE-3: How did you get your assignment to go to the crime scene?
I received a call from the watch commandant who wanted me to analyze a possible crime scene for homicide.
DE-4: When you arrived at the scene, who did you meet and how was the scene secured?
I was the third person to reach the location. An uniform and a plain clothes investigator met me outside the house. They secured the site as soon as they got there. The call was made by the housekeeper who also did not go all the way into the room.
DE-5: Can you explain to the jury what you mean by processing a crime scene for bloodstain analysis?
A crime scene has a variety of blood stains and each of these stains hold a pattern that tell us what really happened. Was the victim killed elsewhere and carried to the spot where he was found? If that is the case, there would be trail pattern that forms the entire route the killer had taken to move the body around.
DE-6: Can you explain to the jury why you collected the bloodstained evidence from this scene?
This blood stain evidence allows us to build the case based on the events as they happened. My job is to spot these stains, photograph them, cut pieces of the carpet, collect clothing from the scene of the crime and analyze them through a software tool called Backtrack; true to its name, the Backtrack provides the most likely sequence of events that took place.
Cross Examination by the Defense
In every criminal trial, the defense gets its opportunity to cross examine the witnesses called by the state in an attempt to find weak links that they can exploit to turn the case in favor of the defendant.
CE-1: Can you explain how you documented the bloodstain evidence you collected?
I photographed the crime scene I all locations where there were blood stains; then, I collected the DNA samples in swabs and sealed them in separate containers. I then labeled these containers on where I found the sample. I also took photographs of the bloodstained footprints next to a geometric ruler so that we could identify the size of the shoe (James et al. 2005). I also cut out parts of the carpet and secured them in special packaging containers. In the bathroom, I conducted a luminal test. If blood had been cleaned up, it will light up during a luminal test. I created a chain of custody form and sent it straight to the forensic lab.
CE-2: What were you told by the detectives about the crime scene?
The detectives told me that it was possibly a homicide.
CE-3: Is it fair to say, you identified and collected bloodstain evidence based on what the detectives told you?
No, it would not. The detectives did not enter the crime scene until I was done with my work. As I said earlier, there were only a plain clothes investigator and an uniform. The detectives came sometime after I started to process the scene.
CE-4: Did even look for evidence that could show or demonstrate that someone other than my client committed this crime?
I processed all the blood stains from the crime scene; even before your client was identified. In fact the police identified your client only after the DNA analysis report was released. He was identified when the antique cupboard that went missing from the crime scene surfaced at your client’s residence three weeks after the murder. The desk’s surface contained blood spatter from both your client and the victim (James et al. 2009). It was the missing piece of the crime scene puzzle.
CE-5: is it possible that cross-contamination occurred at any point in your collection of the evidence or during the analysis of the evidence?
No sir. There was no possibility of cross contamination. I packaged them on the scene and analyzed them the next day morning. At no time was anyone else allowed to work on this evidence and moreover, I followed the protocol to avoid cross contamination of the evidence.
The arm of the law is long and nowadays, even a single strand of hair can secure a conviction. The job of the blood spatter pattern analyst is vital in backing up the sequence of events in a crime scene (Lyle, 2008). Nowadays, one in four convicted Americans is innocent. It takes the skill and determination of the forensic experts to ensure that three out of every five wrongfully convicted American is set free. The perpetrator can run; however there is no hiding from the tenets of forensic science.
Bevel, Tom, and Gardner, Ross M. (2002). Blood pattern analysis, second edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
James, Stuart H., Kish, Paul E., and Sutton, T. Paulette (2005). Principles of bloodstain pattern analysis: theory and practice. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
James, Stuart H., Kish, Paul E., and Sutton, T. Paulette (2009). Forensic science: an introduction to scientific and investigative techniques. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
Lyle, D.P., (2008). Forensics: a guide for writers. Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH. p. 285–302.
Saferstein, Richard (2009). Forensic science: from the crime scene to the crime Lab. Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ.