Home Forensics Under Fire: Includes bibliographical references and index. Crime scene searches—United States. Evidence, Criminal—United States I. Visit our Web site: There is only one alternative: Forensic Science or Subjective Analysis?
Trouble in Paradise 7 Fingerprints Never Lie: Do Teeth Leave Prints?
Emerging Science or Bad Evidence? Overselling the Science 16 The Celebrity Expert: This has not happened, at least not to a great enough extent, and to that degree, forensic science is a failed promise.
Thinking about the nature and severity of these problems, how they affect the criminal justice system, and how they might be solved led me to write Jeff mcadams fdle sexual offenders book. Jim Fisher February 13, ix Prelims. Even experienced writers can learn from a truly outstanding editor. I am indebted to criminal investigator and author Robert L.
I would also like to thank Dr.
Fisher for his editorial suggestions. A second criminalist gathers up the shell casing and, from the kitchen table, the handwritten suicide note. These items have been placed into separate evidence containers. Then the detectives who were at the crime scene question him. Smith says that his wife, Mary, had been depressed and threatening suicide. Also, she had been drinking heavily and taking sleeping pills.
When he left for work that morning at eight she was still in bed. He says he knew at once she was dead and did not approach her body or walk into the kitchen.
He assures the detectives that he has nothing to hide and that he wants to help the police in their investigation. The autopsy reveals that Mary Smith had been shot once in the chest. The powder-burn pattern on her skin suggests that the shot came from between six and twelve inches away from her. Based on early signs of postmortem lividity— light purple discoloration on the anterior plane front of her body caused by the settling of her blood—the forensic pathologist believes that she has been dead much longer than three hours.
His is A positive. DNA tests are pending. The forensic impression analyst has concluded that the shoes made these murder-scene marks. This handwriting expert has also discovered that the signature on a recently purchased Intro. His wife had been about to divorce him, which would have left him broke. He had shot her and tried to make the death look like a suicide.
Unfortunately, this example of forensic science in action does not represent the way most homicide cases in the United States are handled. Crime scenes are not always protected from contamination; physical evidence is often packaged improperly, lost, or left unaccounted for; forensic experts go unconsulted; and mistakes and omissions on the autopsy table either cut investigations short or send detectives down the wrong investigative path.
These and other problems in the practice of forensic science allow offenders to escape justice and can also lead to the imprisonment of innocent people. Moreover, the suspect will often inadvertently take something away from the scene.
Referred to as the Locard exchange principle, this idea, along with the need to reconstruct what took place at the site of a criminal act, is the basic rationale behind crime-scene investigation. Simply put, forensic science involves the application of hard science and technology to the investigation of crime, the proof of Jeff mcadams fdle sexual offenders or innocence at a criminal trial, and the resolution of factual issues in civil litigation.
In the past, detectives solved crimes, and forensic scientists—if physical evidence had been properly gathered—helped prove the case in court. Today, a computer, not a detective, can solve and prove a crime. The crime-solving and crime-proving potential of IAFIS and DNA, two of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of forensic science, boggles the mind.
Practitioners of forensic science fall generally into three groups: As a result, a Jeff mcadams fdle sexual offenders can—and does—go wrong between the crime-scene investigation and the courtroom.
The CSI effect has also caused jurors to expect crime-lab results far beyond the capacity of forensic science. The shortage of DNA analysts has also placed a heavy burden on crime-lab personnel, creating problems of quality control.
Hundreds of criminal defendants, if not thousands, have been sent to prison on what many experts now consider unreliable forensic evidence. Overworked forensic pathologists are prone to take shortcuts and make mistakes. The shortage has meant that in many cases of suspicious death, autopsies are not performed. Forensic Jeff mcadams fdle sexual offenders have to be loyal to their science even when it displeases the people who employ them, a stance that takes courage and independence.
Many of these experts from hell are hired guns willing to testify for whoever pays them. The alarming aspect of these expert-from-hell stories is how long such forensic scientists practice before being exposed and defrocked.
Just below the expert from hell on the damage scale are wellmeaning but incompetent forensic scientists, experts blinded by media attention, and practitioners who bow to prosecutorial pressure. Jurors are often called upon to make judgments in trials in Jeff mcadams fdle sexual offenders each side presents an expert, each of whose expert testimony contradicts the Intro.
If forensic science is about hard science, how does one explain this dueling-expert phenomenon? If there is a battery of forensic scientists for every prosecutor and for every defense, how can there be credible forensic science for anyone?
When jurors are faced with opposing experts, they tend to disregard entirely the physical evidence upon which the experts are testifying. However, these examples illustrate problems that are not uncommon.
But even those who view forensic science in the best possible light agree there is a lot of room for improvement. The of death is the medical reason the person died. One cause of death is asphyxia—lack of oxygen to the brain. It occurs as a result of drowning, suffocation, manual strangulation, strangulation by ligature such as a rope, belt, or length of clothcrushing, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Other causes of death include blunt force trauma, gunshot wound, stabbing, slashing, poisoning, heart attack, stroke, or a sickness such as cancer, pneumonia, or heart disease.
For example, a death resulting from a drug overdose could be the result of homicide, suicide, or accident. Had this victim attempted suicide in the past? Did the victim leave a suicide note? Is there evidence of a love triangle, life insurance fraud, hatred, or revenge? These are basic investigative leads that could help a forensic pathologist determine the manner of death. This is true of other forms of slightly suspicious death.