90th SEMI-ANNUAL SEMINAR (Fall 1997)
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINALISTS
RECAPTURING THE ESSENCE OF CRIMINALISTICS
Peter R. De Forest, D. Crim., Professor of Criminalistics, Department of Sciences, John Jay College, CUNY
The field of criminalistics has grown dramatically over the last four decades. By most indicia the growth has been an order of magnitude or more over this span of time. Today there are many more laboratories, and the laboratories that existed then are much larger or have become systems with satellite facilities. There are certainly many more scientists employed in the field. In addition, the technological advances which have taken place have been nothing short of astounding. It is doubtful that an established criminalist who began a Rip Van Winkle experience, at the time when I entered this field, in 1960 would even recognize a modern forensic science laboratory on awaking today. The physical changes have been profound. All of these changes relating to growth and development would seem at first glance to be positive and welcome. However, in my view, there is cause for considerable concern. This paper will argue that with the growth of the field and advances in technology have come negative developments that need to be examined. The rapidity of the growth has resulted in a loss of focus. It can be argued that technology has advanced at the expense of the science of criminalistics. There has been an erosion of capability with respect to scientific problem solving. Many scientists employed in crime labs around the nation don't even agree on an operational definition of criminalistics. We need to assess where we are, articulate a vision for the future, and reinvent ourselves.
FIRE SCENES AS CRIME SCENES - IS IT REALLY RECONSTRUCTION OR RE-CREATION?
John D. DeHaan, California Criminalistics Institute
Investigation of fire scenes often involves the physical removal, reassembly, and repositioning of furniture and other contents so that burn patterns can be observed and documented. Such physical reconstruction would not be acceptable sometimes in a "non-fire" crime scene. The fire scene offers complications not found in ordinary crime scenes - fire damage followed by the effects of fire suppression and fire-fighting activities such as ventilation, overhaul and salvage, and structural collapse all make it necessary to clean up before the scene can be re-created to its appearance at the start of the fire.
Such re-creations are necessary to identify, understand, and even predict many factors that affect the spread and intensity of a fire, such as the type and location of fuel packages and ventilation. Some evidence may reflect pre-fire activities (such as burglary, fraud, or murder) that help reconstruct a multi-part crime. This paper will give examples and justifications for the re-creation of scenes involving fires and explosions, as well as offer some guidelines and cautions for the scene examiner.
BOMBING INVESTIGATIONS - A COLLECTIVE VENTURE
Sergeant Chafes H. Stumph, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department
How sophisticated was the bomb? This is often the first question asked by investigators, managers, and other law enforcement personnel after a major bombing incident. The mere opening of a package can produce deadly results to the intended victim or unsuspecting person. The focus of the ensuing technical investigation often starts with a mind-set of a highly sophisticated fuzing system. It is imperative that the crime scene investigator/criminalist assigned to a bombing incident remember the basic structure of destructive device fuzing systems. The means of initiation can be either electric or non-electric with delays of time, action, or command. This presentation examines incidents involving mundane fuzing components that can easily be overlooked at the crime scene.
"COOK" FAILS CHEM 101; HYDROGEN SULFIDE FATALITY
Mehul Anjaria, Forensic Science Services, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department
On January 30, 1997, Criminalists Mehul Anjaria and Blaine Kern from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department responded to a clandestine laboratory site in Muscoy, California, at which the "cook" was deceased. After donning protective clothing and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), they entered the scene to discover a cylinder clearly labeled 'hydrogen sulfide' discharging its deadly contents. Apparently, the "cook" had mistaken hydrogen sulfide gas for hydrogen chloride gas and attempted to use it to convert his methamphetamine base into the hydrochloride salt form. The "cook" was found lying outside, just past the doorway to the room which housed the clandestine laboratory, with an Air Purifying Respirator (APR) equipped with organic vapor cartridges lying nearby. This crime scene is an excellent example of the dangers that clandestine laboratory investigators may face.
ONLINE ACCESS TO THE CALIFORNIA CRIMINALISTICS INSTITUTE LIBRARY CATALOG: THE DIAL-IN AND WORLD WIDE WEB VERSIONS
Josh Spatola and Ray Silvia, California Criminalistics Institute, Bureau of Forensic Services, California Department of Justice
Our presentation involves a demonstration of the two online versions of the California Criminalistics Institute Library Catalog, which includes citations for approximately 2,000 books and 12,000 journal articles. The first version is a dial-in DOS system which utilizes Close-up remote control software. The minimum PC requirements are these: 286 PC, 5MB hard drive space, 4MB RAM, 1200 baud modem, a phone line, and Close-up 6.0 software. The second is an Internet World Wide Web version, which may be accessed by using any major Web browser on an Internet capable workstation. This site utilizes a popular "Database-to-Web" CGI software, ShowBase, to place our DOS database records, exported as ASCII text, into a "point-and-click" search interface that provides for keyword searching, browsing, and printing. Both versions are available to CAC members, according to access policies which will be delineated. The presentation concludes with a discussion on how criminalists may wish to use CGI software, such as ShowBase, to place databases on an Intranet or on the Internet.
REAGENTS FOR VISUAL ENHANCEMENT OF FINGERPRINTS IN BLOOD: AN EVALUATION OF METHODS
J. D. Clark, California Department of Justice, Latent Print Section
J.D. DeHaan, S.S. Barney, and T.F. Spear; California Department of Justice; California Criminalistics Institute
Fresh blood on a surface is a tenacious contaminant that leaves traces behind every time that surface contacts another clean surface even after multiple touches. This occurs whether the bloody surface is friction skin, shoe tread, tire, or tool. Reagents such as amido black or ninhydrin have been used for years to enhance the visibility of trace transfers from bloody contact surfaces. Amido black produces a deep blue-green stain in the presence of blood that is easily visible on light-colored backgrounds. The purple stain of ninhydrin requires a lighter surface. For dark-colored surfaces, a fluorescing or luminescing reagent such as Luminol has been the technique of choice.
Luminol, however, produces a luminescence that is short lived and hard to see and photograph and does not retain clear detail so its use for fingerprint enhancement is minimal. In the past few years, other reagents have been suggested as alternates ¬leuco crystal violet, fluorescin, and merbromin. This study evaluates the enhancement of sequential touches of a finger dampened with human blood by several different chemical enhancement reagents. Prints developed using leuco crystal violet were compared against amido black and ninhydrin. Prints developed by merbromin and fluorescin were compared against DFO on a variety of surfaces. Prints of various ages (one, ten, and thirty days) were treated according to standard recommended practice for each reagent and the developed prints were visually evaluated for intensity (detection of color) and readability (clarity) by an experienced examiner. Ratings were made on the basis of the number of the sequential touch in which color or detail was readable.
It was found that leuco crystal violet (LCV) produced intense blue-purple prints on all surfaces tested with the same sensitivity, clarity, and speed as amido black (AB) but without the blue background left by AB, particularly on porous or semi porous surfaces. Merbromin was found to produce prints that strongly fluoresced (yellow) at 532nm, and that demonstrated excellent quality even after multiple touches. Fluorescin was found to be as sensitive as merbromin but edge detail (clarity) was poor and its fluorescence faded with time. DFO yielded no identifiable fluorescent detail on prints with blood. Re-examination ten to thirty days after treatment revealed all prints still visible, but exposure to light had caused the background on LCV-treated porous targets to turn blue, obscuring fainter prints. The fluorescing compounds were still readable after thirty days. In addition, LCV was found to produce a complex that fluoresces red when illuminated with a 532nm laser. This fluorescence weakened with time, and detail and sharpness were lost with time, as the background began to offer competing fluorescence.
The effect of these reagents on fourteen PCR-based markers was evaluated by dipping swabs bearing a 30ul bloodstain in each of these six reagents. The DNA was organically extracted, evaluated by yield gel, and then amplified and typed for the DQA1/Polymarker™ D1S80™, AmpFlSTR™, Green and Blue loci. Although degradation was noted in the samples treated with merbromin and ninhydrin, typing results were obtained for all of the samples in all fourteen loci.
IS SOMETHING WRONG? YOU BE THE JUDGE -- AN INTERACTIVE PANEL Moderator: Barry Fisher, Los Angeles Sheriffs Department
Panelists: Dr. Edward Blake, Forensic Science Associates; Mr. Robert Blasier, Esq., Attorney at Law; Mr. George Woody Clarke, Esq., San Diego County District Attorney; Dr. Peter DeForest, John Jay College; Dr. Henry Lee, Connecticut State Police, University of New Haven; Mr. Gregory Matheson, Los Angeles Police Department
When Henry Lee testified to "Something wrong;" what was he referring to? What was the significance of whether the blood swatches were "thoroughly dried" as contended by the prosecution and refuted by the defense? What was the controversy over the "unidentified shoe print" at the Bundy scene? Was that an imprint in blood or was it an impression in cement stained by berries? If there was a shoe print made by a shoe other than a Bruno Magli, could that be accounted for or did it support the multiple killer theory? What was the basis to the allegation that the blood on the sock might have been planted or were there other logical explanations to the transfer pattern? How significant were the circular blood drops on Nicole's body and should they have been collected?
Was it proper to invalidate findings by labeling evidence "contaminated," knowing that the crime scene could not be pristine? Was it realistic to expect every item be collected, analyzed, and accounted for? Was the defense criticism based on scientific findings or Monday morning quarter-backing or nit-picking? How was the criminal trial different from the civil trial? What lessons have been learned by the forensic community from this case? Members of the prosecution and defense teams from the O.J. Simpson criminal trial will discuss all these and other aspects of the case in a moderated forum.
CRIME SCENE RECONSTRUCTION
Dr. Henry C. Lee, Director, Connecticut State Police Forensic Laboratory; Professor, University of New Haven
Crime Scene reconstruction is the process of determining the sequence of events, criminal activities, and logical predictions about what, where, and when occurred during and after the crime. Crime scenes are generally reconstructed through study of the crime scene patterns, application of logic, and the examination of physical evidence. Reconstruction not only involves the scientific analysis of a scene, interpretation of scene pattern evidence, and laboratory examination of physical evidence, but also involves a systematic study of related information and the formulation of a logical theory. It is extremely important to determine the actual sequence of events of a crime, to verify statements, to limit the possibilities of alibis, and to develop investigative leads. The need to conduct a scene reconstruction is one major reason for maintaining the integrity of a crime scene. If the scene was altered during processing, this will sometimes seriously affect the ability to perform the reconstruction. The workshop will cover the principles and techniques of reconstruction. Cases will be used to illustrate these principles.
THE MURDER OF LINDA SOBEK, CRIME SCENE EVIDENCE AND EVALUATION
Heidi M. Robbins, M.S.; Elizabeth M. Devine, M.S.; Stephan Schliebe, B.S.; Los Angeles Sheriff's Department
The disappearance of 28-year-old model and former Raiderette, Linda Sobek, attracted the attention of the media in the aftermath of the Simpson not-guilty verdict in November 1995. The discovery of evidence relating to the missing model led authorities to Charles Rathburn, who ultimately directed investigators to her buried body nine days after she was reported missing. Blood stains, hair evidence, shoe prints, and tire tracks from the excavation site, the suspect vehicle, and remote .areas in the Angeles Crest Forest were presented at trial. Explicit photographs reportedly showing the genitalia of the victim were introduced by Rathburn's defense in an attempt to substantiate his "consensual sex, accidental death" scenario. These weather¬-damaged, double-exposed photographs were examined in collaboration with the Aerospace Corporation National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center. Photographic image analysis, blood stain pattern interpretation, and crime scene reconstruction were utilized to rebut the defendant's testimonial account of the homicide.
THE PATHOLOGIST AT THE CRIME SCENE
Dr. Brian D. Blackbourne, M.D., Clinical Professor of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, San Diego County Medical Examiner
The forensic pathologist at a homicide scene may offer the investigators and the investigation the following four advantages. First, the best possible estimate of the time of death is made by the pathologist at the scene before the body is disturbed. Second, a preliminary examination of the body by the pathologist at the scene for the type, character, and number of wounds offers the investigators important early information. Third, correlation of the body to the scene may answer such questions as: Was the victim killed here or was he or she dumped? It may also help to answer some questions which don't even come up until the autopsy. Fourth, the Deputy District Attorney presenting the case at trial may start his or her questioning of the pathologist regarding the scene and then develop the preliminary findings into the autopsy findings and finally into the cause of death. The scene knowledge is also helpful when the Deputy District Attorney tests the prosecution theory on the pathologist's findings during trial. One can go back to the scene later on and review photos of the scene, but nothing takes the place of being there at the time.
BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS OF A CRIME SCENE: THE POLLY KLAAS CASE
Dr. Park Dietz, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Park Dietz and Associates, Incorporated
Dr. Dietz will address behavioral analysis of crime scenes using the Polly Klaas case to illustrate data sources, offense reconstruction, and evidentiary issues. In the trial of Richard Allen Davis, the Government sought to show that the offense was sexually motivated despite the defendant's denial of sexual activity. The Court permitted testimony based on a reconstruction of three crime scenes (the site of abduction, a location to which the defendant had taken the victim, and the location where her body was found) and the defendant's prior history of criminal conduct. Dr. Dietz will outline his testimony at trial to show how convergent data from three sources - physical evidence, witness statements, and the defendant's prior history - cumulatively prove sexual motivation. The jury convicted on both the sex offense and the murder, and Davis received the death sentence.