Free «Forensic Analysis and Interpretation» Essay
Q1 As defined by Hails (2008, p.142), continuity of evidence, also known as the chain of custody evidence, refers to putting measures in place to ensure that exhibit being examined is not contaminated as it is seized or moved from one place to the other. This is essential as it brings out the integrity of the evidence which may be undermined by either intentional or unintentional practices of investigative officers. In any judicial process, managing exhibit or evidence from the crime scene up to the magistrate court is important as it economically, and effectively eliminates all the integrity issues which may render the evidence as irrelevant.
Pierce (2009, p.4) adds that the continuity of evidence ensures that clear documentation of intact uncontaminated, undamaged or not tampered evidence is presented in offering illustrative investigation and prosecution of alleged offence. This brings out the value on the justice system especially where contamination of exhibit or wrongful examination of exhibit is deemed not to have occurred.
Q2 At 3.00 am, a phone call is received by central police station noting the police of a murder crime that has been committed inside a caller house. On receiving the news, all corresponding investigating officers are informed of the incident. They then proceed to the crime scene to investigate what happened. Upon reaching the crime scene, the officers secure the scene by using plastic tapes in order not to allow any contamination of the evidence which is essential for building up the case. First, they obtain relevant information from the caller of the incident. This would help in understanding whether the caller executed the crime or by any chance is connected to it.
In any successful justice process, constituting an effective crime investigative process in a crime scene offers ample opportunity of collecting and transferring credible exhibit evidence from crime scene to forensic scientist lab. This would enable the prosecutor to harmonize his or her judicial story with creditable evidence which can lead and compel the offender into prosecution. Importantly, any crime scene assists the officer in obtaining potential information either from the collected physical evidence, views from the witnesses as well as statement from the suspects and victims of the crime committed. Therefore, thoroughly documenting any aspect of the crime scene would securely lead to obtaining sufficient evidence that would compel the justice story to the prosecution of the offender.
In any successful investigation process, effectively solving crimes entails the reconstruction of the scenario of crime by pointing out parties involved, how it happened, when, and why the crime was committed. By documenting these key evidences, it will ensure that any piece of evidence from blood stained to other important items of evidence are accurately collected in clean dry plastic bags which are free from contamination. This would ensure that only relevant evidence collected from the crime scene are the same ones presented for examination in forensic laboratories. Moreover, effectively examining the key evidences form the central element of which any illustrative criminal investigation process can lead to successful prosecution.
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At first, the most essential piece of evidence was to identify whether the murder crime was committed by an insider or by an outsider. But on conducting a search based on the crime scene, it was revealed that the crime was committed by an intruder who entered the premise through a window. On the broken window located at the bedroom, there were chips of broken pieces of glasses which were spread underneath the window pane and frame which even spread to the ground. Since this was a lead for the crime being investigated, thorough examination and securing of the scene was essential.
Significantly, it is usually noted that the intent of investigating any crime scene is to rule out other possibilities which do not present the evidence in coherent with the crime committed in establishing a compelling judicial story. Therefore, failure to thoroughly examine a leading crime scenery would results into irrelevancy of the exhibit towards the crime committed thereby leading to unsuccessful conviction of crime offenders.
On close inspection of the window, there was a stain of blood at the sharp edge of the broken window glasses as some droplets were evident at the pillowcase which was placed on the murdered victim face. Additionally, a blood stained knife was located under the bed where the murder victim with stabled bellow was lying. The knife examined for fingerprints but there was no proof of the same as the offender might have worn up hand gloves when executing the murder. However, using dry cotton buds, each and every sample of the blood at the broken window glasses, pillow case, and at the knife were taken and then packaged in dry exhibit bags for further DNA examination at the forensic laboratory. Moreover, the stained knife was packed in exhibit bag and transported to forensic lab for further investigation. This was to find out the magnitude at which the offender clearly intended to commit the act.
Additionally, the posture at which the murdered victim was found clearly illustrated that the murder incidence might have happened due to forceful sexual assault. Therefore, the body which was then wrapped in plastic bag was transported to the forensic laboratory for semen examination. Examining blood and semen obtained from the crime scene especially for DNA is essential as DNA analysis through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) would provide potential evidence that either would link or fail to link the suspect to the crime committed. However, for the two biological evidences, effectively managing and storing would result into providing sufficient evidence which is important for prosecution of the offender.
Therefore, once the blood and body items of evidence were collected from the scene, they were filled in situ and placed into exhibit bags, especially for the collected blood samples. These exhibit bags were then given unique numbers for further investigation. An additional description was then given to each and every exhibit bag in order to avoid unprecedented contamination of the evidence. Based, on the biological nature of blood regarding its lifetime, the collected blood samples were securely packaged into exhibit bags which were free from moisture content of which can contaminate the evidence. Once this was done, they were transported to the central police station where their details were entered into computer system before they were again transported by known police officer to forensic laboratories.
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While this was being done, the remaining investigating officers were continuing on searching and the crime scene. On further searching, a fading “off white” materials were seen to drop from the kitchen towards the bedroom. At the kitchen, this “off white” material was placed on the table covered with paper from pornographic material. On close inspection, the “off white” material was found to be a cocaine drug. The photograph of the “off white” material was then taken and the samples packed in exhibit bags with illustrative details before being transported to the central police station. This was a crucial piece of evidence as it provided investigator with the motive under which the murder crime might have been committed.
Once the drug exhibit had been placed inside the exhibit bag and description given, the bag had to be sealed with exhibit log contemporary filled in for future proof of evidence intact. This would allow the item to be transported to the police station where its details will then be filled in exhibit book and exhibit safe. However, before the exhibit is dispatched from the exhibit safe and transported to the drug lab, the transporting police officer should ensure that the exhibit is dully signed. In doing so, the prosecutor would be able to provide sufficient evidence on the movement of the exhibit from the crime scene to the forensic lab. Failure to provide this certification will lead to upholding of the accused by the court thereby undermining justice process.
Lying next to the “off white” material were four bottles of beer with three of them totally empty. While fingerprints could not be evident at the broken window in the bedroom, close examining of the beer bottles presented fingerprints with full palm mark around them. In any forensic investigation, fingerprints play a crucial role in indentifying the parties or perpetrators of the crime which has been committed. The mode at which they can easily be collected present fingerprints as efficient evidence for any crime scene. Using black magnetic powder which was swiftly applied around the beer bottles, fingerprints were then projected and their images loaded into Polaroid camera. This was done through taking detachable flash of the fingerprint images which were then automatically filled in Polaroid black and white film then loaded to the Polaroid camera.
Once the fingerprints had been successfully taken, the photographic mages were packaged in exhibit bags and transported forensic lab via police station for further processing. This was essential since the processing of the fingerprints it give evident that actually link the offender with the crime scene. And apart from processing the fingerprints, the forensic laboratory ensures that exhibits collected from the crime scene are safely stored until they are required in trial or any other convenient time. Therefore, accurately processing and storing fingerprints collected from the crime scene and then presenting them in court would act as vital evidence which ultimately link the suspect to the weapons found at the crime of the scene.
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Next to the victim’s clothes which had been ripped off, an element of grey hair was found which was different to the victim’s hair. This was done using an infrared light source which made it easy capturing the visibility of the grey hair. Once it was identified, clear tapers were used to lift up both the visible and non-visible hair content from the garments without any contamination. Moreover, these clear tapes were in such a way that they could not stick to the garments fibers which could have caused the contamination of the evidence. Just like fingerprints, hair is crucial trace evidence in crime investigation as it not only rules out population characteristic of the suspect, but it also helps in identifying unknown offenders who are linked to the crime.
While hair is crucial evidence in crime investigation process, its processing in forensic laboratory does not provide absolute evidence that link the person to the committed crime. In most cases, hair obtained from a crime scene has often been examined by forensic scientists in pointing out the probability of the person having been committed the crime. Therefore, hair has never been used in proving the guilt of person being suspected for the crime committed. However, it is important to effectively collect process and store hair exhibit since it gives a lead to the person who might have been involved in the crime incident.
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Next, on kin look at the floor, traces of shoe prints were found on top of the “off white” material droppings as they lead to the bedroom. This was crucial trace evidence since the shoe prints can be successfully matched to the shoe prints which are in possession of the suspect being investigated for the murder crime. Therefore collecting this evidence was important for enhancing the investigation process.
Using tripod, various photographs were taken on the shoe prints at angle of 45 degrees. After which, the cast of the shoe print image was made using dental stone and then packaged in exhibit bags for further processing in forensic lab. This was done using an electronic dust print lifter which was able to translate the shoe prints into hard flat surfaces which could be packed for further investigation. Knowing the shoe prints will assist the investigators in looking for suspect’s shoes which matches with the same thereby presenting the suspect as the offender of the crime which was committed.
Moreover, any discrete item of evidence properly obtained, secured from the crime scene, later examined and stored for presentation in prosecuting criminal cases, forms supportive evidence for prosecutor’s case. These items of evidences are to prove without reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime committed. Therefore, in forensic lab, it has to be proven and certified that the exhibit collected from the crime scene are in coherent with the investigation evidence projected to the suspect.
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Based on the items of evidence collected in the crime scene, it is evident that they provide sufficient incriminating support that can effectively nail the offender to the murder case. Moreover, it is essential for the incriminating evidence to be correctly labeled and stored in order to prove without reasonable doubt that the suspected offender is indeed the main actor of the murder crime committed. In this perspective, all the key people involved including lab technicians, the magistrate, and investigative police officer should ensure that evidence collected from the crime scene are the same one examined by lab technician and presented to the magistrate. In doing so, the elaborated evidence found in the crime scene presented the very likely hood that it is possible to track down and successful engaging in judicial process which will ultimately lead to the conviction of the murder offender.
Q3 According to Bramble, Compton, & Klasen (2006, p.9), digital images; especially in this new era of digital technology, provide efficient and sufficient evidence in the judicial process through visual display of records in court. They note that digital images can be easily transferred from one source to the other using USB or SD cards. It is therefore imperative for any investigative officer to have advanced knowledge of computer software and components related to identifying, producing, and passing digitized images from crime scene to forensic laboratories. However, it is the increased awareness of the possibility of digital image manipulation especially by the general public is what has made the court and the jury to be conscious of the digital images being presented in court. Any failure to effectively process and transfer images adds effects on the photo. This will make the photo void and not useful for prosecution presentation.
On returning to the police station, the crime scene personnel should enter all the photographic images obtained plus their details in computer based property system. Waggoner (2007, p.21) points out that digital images normally constitute to any image captured digitally and stored electronically from the crime scene, if properly managed, can act as police information. Therefore correctly feeding the computer system with details of the crime scene exhibit would present the exhibit as a master copy from which any other working copies are subjected to editing and processing procedures.
For instance, the contextual image displayed of the filled digital images should be able to connect each and every exhibit with the judicial story that is presented with the investigation team. In the above case, the position of blood stained knife should have been clearly illustrated by the digital images produced. This close relationship would illustrate how the exhibit is connected to the scene. Moreover, incidental scenes such as intervention in helping the affected victim should be clearly recorded and enjoined with the notes timely to the photographic taking.
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Once the digital images have been taken and then stored in the secured computers systems or protected servers, Bramble, Compton, & Klasen (2006, p.9) note that the crime scene personnel should pass the images to other colleagues in the forensic laboratories via protected servers. The authenticity of these images can be enhanced by using Secure Digital Forensic Imaging process that will ensure that effects are applied to the photos thereby being free from film or photo manipulation. This helps in avoiding the improper disclosure of incriminating evidence through digital technologies.
In case where there is need for third party access to the incriminating photos or film, the disclosure methodology should be observed factually by all parties. As pointed out by Robinson (2010, p.1), whenever the sharing of digital images is incorporated to find out the identity of the victim, any digital image editing and processing included should only fall within audit trail. The audit trail involves the obtaining of relevant authorization notices from the admin that ensure that you are not the only one liable for the dispatched images. This would ensure that forensic laboratory investigators only access the digital images through their system administrator under specialized image retrieval officer to avoid evident contamination.
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Moreover, Kemp (2011, p.1) notes that it is essential for investigation officers to be engaging in processes based on the recommended principle of finding out credible incriminating evidence. This would ensure that each officer is accountable for any digital image collected from the crime scene and dispatched to various investigating officers.