115th SEMI-ANNUAL SEMINAR (Spring 2010)
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINALISTS
April 19-23, 2010
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite (Fish Camp), California
EFFECTIVENESS OF CARRIER RNA CO-EXTRACTION METHODOLOGIES USING THE QIAGEN BIOROBOT EZ1R AND EZ1R DNA INVESTIGATOR KIT
Authors: Johnny Upshaw, BS, Colleen Proffitt, MS (KCRCL), and Kevin W. P. Miller, PhD
Presenter: Johnny Upshaw, California State University, Fresno
The Qiagen BioRobot EZ1R, in conjunction with the EZ1R Investigator Kit, allows for robotic extraction of DNA from various forensic substrates in a rapid and reliable manner. Automation of the extraction process has greatly increased case-sample throughput by allowing an analyst to conduct multiple sample extractions simultaneously. DNA extraction is a pivotal part of forensic analysis. Maximizing the efficiency and recovery of DNA obtained in this step greatly affects the success of downstream results and conclusions. Although sample throughput is greatly increased with the use of the BioRobot EZ1R, it has been shown to produce lower DNA recovery quantities from highly degraded and/or low-yield samples, as compared to manual organic extractions (Kishore 2006). This decrease in DNA recovery is hypothesized to be a result of the magnetic silica beads which the BioRobot EZ1R uses to bind and extract DNA, a practical, yet not overly efficient process. In low DNA-containing samples the efficiency and inherent loss caused by this method greatly affects the amount of DNA recovered. It has been demonstrated, however, that the addition of carrier RNAs to cell lysates, prior to robotic extraction, can greatly increase DNA recovery. Thus, amending the standard procedure to allow for the addition of carrier RNAs can greatly increase the quality and quantity of DNA recovered via automated extraction.
An internal validation of the use of carrier RNAs to increase DNA recovery from highly degraded forensic samples was conducted for the Kern County Regional Criminalistics Laboratory (KCRCL) using Qiagen's BioRobot EZ1R automated DNA extraction platform. The validation study sought to identify the critical aspects of the procedure which must be controlled and monitored while additionally defining the limitations of the new procedure. The method validation also evaluated the robustness, reliability, precision/reproducibility, sensitivity and linearity of the procedure on a host of known and nonprobative case samples. Additionally, concordance and the absence of contamination were also evaluated.
The results of the method validation concluded the addition of carrier RNAs to cell lysates greatly increases the amount of DNA recovered as compared to non-carrier RNA-containing samples. The method is now being considered for implementation in daily forensic DNA analysis, either at the discretion of the analyst or as a step in all extraction procedures.
USE OF CANINE MITOCHONDRIAL DNA NUCLEOTIDE SEQUENCE DATA IN FORENSIC CASEWORK
Authors: Korie Faber & Kevin W.P. Miller, Ph.D.
Presenter: Korie Faber, California State University, Fresno
Canine mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) profiles, developed from trace evidence recovered from the scenes of violent crimes, can be very useful to criminal investigations. Canine mtDNA can be helpful because it can generate information for the investigation when other biological evidence is not beneficial in the pursuit of a suspect. Once a profile is developed, nucleotide sequence data is compared to a reference sequence and differences between those sequences are noted. However, if the calls being made regarding the observed differences are not the same from laboratory to laboratory, then inter-laboratory matches are nearly impossible to make; and, we are going to miss important information that could have generated the intended investigative leads.
Standardization of the nomenclature in the canine mtDNA control region can increase the potential usefulness of canine mtDNA evidence. For example, the nomenclature for identifying substitutions, insertions and deletions within the control region is needed. A single reference sequence must also be identified that can be used in forensic cases in which canine mtDNA is discovered. To accomplish consistency between the canine nomenclature callings, a single reference sequence was used and alignments were performed using the same rules as used in human mtDNA alignments. We then noted the haplotypes while performing sequence alignments of all canine mtDNA sequences published to date using the sequence alignment software Sequencher™ version 4.9.
Standardization of these criteria should be implemented across the forensic DNA community to allow forensic investigators to include more canine mtDNA testing in their investigations. Once all labs are consistent when analyzing canine trace evidence in casework, this will ultimately improve the vast possibilities that canine mtDNA can provide in criminal investigations.
WELCOME TO THE TRI-STATE PSYCH WARD (CASE PRESENTATION)
Presenters: Senior Criminalist Michelle Terra & Senior Criminalist; Jennai Lawson, California DOJ, Central Valley Laboratory
In August of 2000, Ronald Ward, a garbage truck driver in his 30's with a troubled past, goes to Montana in search for the mother who had abandoned him at an early age. In the months that follow, three women and one man will ultimately meet their death by Ronald Ward as he drifts from state to state, traveling from West Virginia through Arkansas to Montana and on to California. This talk will cover these four cases, and how the power of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) was able to link three of these cases and ultimately solve two of them by providing the law enforcement agencies involved with crucial information. These cases demonstrate how teamwork between agencies and crime laboratories can be bridged by CODIS. In addition, when the four cases are viewed from an overall perspective, they illustrate how wide reaching an effect budget crises and laboratory backlogs can have on real life scenarios.
CASE STUDY: THE MADERA COUNTY SERIAL KILLER
Presenters: Senior Criminalist Mindy Crow, California Department of Justice, Fresno Laboratory & Edmund Gil, Senior Deputy District Attorney, Madera County District Attorney's Office
Between 1995 and 1998, three women were found murdered and abandoned in rural parts of Madera County. Various methods were employed to kill each victim ranging from shooting to stabbing to strangulation. Over the years, the cases grew cold. In 2002, a prisoner named Jose Guerrero made a statement to officers about having killed a woman in 1998. This statement was made just a few days prior to his impending release from Wasco State Prison. Jose Guererro was in prison for convictions relating to felony DUI charges. This presentation will discuss the individual crimes, the DNA analysis and the subsequent trial and conviction of serial killer Jose Guerrero in 2009.
DEVELOPING A NEW qPCR ASSAY "MITO QUAD"
Presenter: Assistant Laboratory Director Meg Aceves, California Department of Justice, Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory
Currently the Missing Persons DNA Program (MPDP) at the BFS Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory relies on a duplex realtime quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay (1) that quantifies nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA. This duplex assay has greatly benefited the program by allowing a direct quantitation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) versus the previous estimation that was based on the nuclear DNA amount. Practical experience with casework type samples has found two common limitations in the DOJ "Duplex" assay. First, in very degraded samples, there is a discrepancy between the mtDNA ND1 gene target sequence of 69bp, that is used in the duplex qPCR assay, and the amount of amplifiable DNA available for the 400bp target used for the mtDNA sequencing. The mtDNA quantification may be attained however downstream mitochondrial sequencing often fails due to the level of degradation in the sample. A longer mtDNA target would be predicted to better correlate the sequencing results with the initial quantitation step. Furthermore, if two different length mtDNA targets could be multiplexed, this could provide for an assessment of the level of mtDNA degradation. Secondly, the duplex assay does not utilize an internal PCR control (IPC). The MPDP program often works with very challenged samples such as very old bones. If nuclear or mitochondrial DNA is not detected using the duplex assay, it is not possible to determine if the lack of signal is due to PCR inhibition or the lack of DNA. An IPC would help in the isolation of such problems. The goal of this project will be to incorporate a target of sufficient length into the duplex assay to allow for the assessment of DNA degradation in the sample, and incorporate an IPC into the assay to assess PCR inhibition.
EVALUATION OF APPLIED BIOSYSTEMS AMPFlSTR® IDENTIFILER® PLUS AND AMPFlSTR® IDENTIFILER® DIRECT PCR AMPLIFICATION KITS.
Authors: Mavis Date Chong, Sandra Sheehan, and Martin Buoncristiani, California Department of Justice, Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory
Presenter: Assistant Laboratory Director Meg Aceves, California Department of Justice, Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory
Applied Biosystems AmpFlSTR® Identifiler® Plus and AmpFlSTR® Identifiler® Direct PCR Amplification Kits were evaluated. The AmpFlSTR® Identifiler® Plus kit was designed to be more robust and efficient than the current Identifiler® Kit, and to provide higher quality data from a wider range of sample types. The AmpFlSTR® Identifiler® Direct PCR Kit was designed to minimize processing of single source database samples prior to amplification.
The AmpFlSTR® Identifiler® Plus PCR Amplification Kit is reported to provide enhanced performance for casework samples. With higher amplification efficiency, sensitivity is increased, performance on samples containing PCR inhibitors is improved, and the minor component in mixtures is more readily detected. To validate these claims, sensitivity, mixture and inhibition studies were performed, comparing AmpFlSTR® Identifiler® and Identifiler® Plus kits. Sensitivity studies included the amplification of DNA quantities ranging 31.25 - 125 pg with 28 and 29 cycles. To study inhibition, casework samples previously found to be inhibited, were analyzed. In addition, the effect of hematin (10-300 uM) and humic acid (5-125 ng/ul) were assessed. Mixtures (1:0, 1:1, 1:3, 1:5, 1:7, and 1:10) studies were performed with and without inhibitor.
The Identifiler® Direct PCR Amplification Kit was designed for high throughput analysis of database samples on FTAR Cards. This chemistry offers a streamlined "punch and go" approach since DNA is amplified directly from FTAR punches, without prior DNA purification. Offender buccal samples analyzed at the Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory are collected on Bode Buccal DNA Collectors™. Cells on Bode Buccal DNA Collectors™ (100% cotton paper) remain intact, unlike FTAR Cards on which cell lysis and DNA immobilization occur upon contact. Various means of achieving cell lysis, including heat and lysis buffers, were therefore evaluated with the Identifiler® Direct PCR Amplification Kit.
Results of our evaluation of the AmpFlSTR® Identifiler® Plus and AmpFlSTR® Identifiler® Direct PCR Amplification Kits will be presented.
VALIDATION OF POWERPLEX16 HS
Presenter: Cyndi Cunnington, Idaho State Police
Presentation will detail the Idaho State Police lab's validation and implementation of PowerPlex16 HS. In addition, several casework interesting cases will be highlighted to illustrate the utility and capabilities of PowerPlex16.
WORKING WITH CHALLENGING SAMPLES
Authors: Senior Criminalists Carolyn Weigand and Michelle Halsing, California Department of Justice, Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory
Presenter: Senior Criminalist Eric Halsing
The presentation will show many examples of challenging samples and what the outcome of each was. It will also cover ways to combat inhibition, low DNA and degradation. Finally there will be an example of how a new extraction method was used to help combat a sample with both inhibition and low DNA.
THE EFFECTS OF PREZERVE™ ON DNA ANALYSIS
Presenter: Jessica Kaut, Alameda County Sheriff's Office
Our laboratory was asked to perform DNA Typing Analysis on swabs submitted to our laboratory by an outside agency. The agency used a reagent called PreZerve™ which claims to improve the collection and preservation of DNA. Our goal was to determine if the PreZerve™ reagent interfered with DNA Typing Analysis.
LET'S TALK SCHOP...
Presenter: Senior Criminalist Jennai Lawson, California Department of Justice, Central Valley Laboratory
The Cold Hit Outcome Project (CHOP) is a web based application that has been developed through a partnership between the California Bureau of Forensic Services (BFS) and the Western States Information Network (WSIN). It provides a mechanism for law enforcement agencies to share information and track the status of "cold hit" cases - cases where an unsolved/suspectless case has been linked to a possible perpetrator via a DNA match from an evidence sample to a convicted offender/arrestee/suspect profile in the SDIS database. Every law enforcement agency involved with the case participates in CHOP and plays a specified role: The state CODIS laboratory (SDIS, the Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory), the local CODIS laboratory (LDIS) doing the work on the case, the law enforcement agency (LEA) investigating the case, and the district attorney's office (DA) prosecuting the case. CHOP facilitates communication between these four agencies and provides an automated system for tracking the status of the case, from the hit through prosecution/adjudication. This talk will cover the working aspects of CHOP, the usefulness of the system, and the projected scope of the project. The first "hit" in CHOP will also be presented.
FORENSIC TOOLS FOR WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT IN CALIFORNIA
Presenter: Jeff Rodzen, California Department of Fish and Game
The Department of Fish and Game's Forensics Laboratory has assisted in species identification, analysis and DNA matching of evidentiary samples from a wide variety of wildlife and fish species in California. As with human criminalistics, the use of STRs plays a very important role in wildlife forensic science in the investigation of wildlife crimes. Unlike human criminalistics, however, the WFL analyzes many different species, each of which must have its own unique and species-specific set of STRs and corresponding database of multilocus profiles. Currently the WFL has STR panels for deer, elk, bear, and mountain lions, which are used in forensic analysis of poaching cases and lion attacks on humans. We provide an overview of our research to date on population and forensic genetics of deer, elk, and mountain lions with some case examples. New research projects will also be reviewed that include the development of STRs and population genetic analyses of abalone and sturgeon.
INCREASING THE EFFICIENCY OF STR ANALYSIS AND REVIEW USING MACROS
Presenter: Senior Criminalist Eric Halsing, California Department of Justice, Jan Bashinski DNA Laboratory
Some analysts find it inconvenient to set-up their plate records for the Applied Biosystems (AB) 3130 in the laboratory using the AB collection software. To address this, an Excel based macro has been created for the staff of the Jan Bashinski DNA lab to create plate records at any workstation containing Microsoft Excel. At that point, the resulting text file can be imported into the collection software.
Some laboratories include a table of STR results in their case reports and, most often, these are transcribed from printed plots into a word processing program. This practice can be time-consuming and lends itself to typographical errors. An Excel-based Report Table Creator macro was designed to create a table from the tabular date exported from AB's GeneMapper ID software (version 3.2). The resulting table can then be pasted directly into any Windows-based word processing program.
Lastly, the newly updated BFS protocols require Technical Reviewers to state that they reviewed all allelic ladders used in typing and that they confirmed that all allele designations were correct. A macro was designed and validated to make this task simpler. The macro is run during the GMID analysis step and the resulting print-out is added to the case file notes. Then, during technical review, the reviewer need only review, sign, and date the print-out, thus eliminating the time-consuming need for the reviewer to import the project into GMID and manually review all the ladder injections.
These three macros will be demonstrated and copies of the macros will be provided to any who want them.
DEVELOPMENTAL VALIDATION OF THE SPERM HY-LITER™ KIT FOR THE IDENTIFICATION OF HUMAN SPERMATOZOA IN FORENSIC SAMPLES
Authors: Dhaval Waghela, M.S., Brian Fischer, B.S., and Kevin W. P. Miller, Ph.D.
Presenter: Dhaval Waghela, California State University, Fresno
Sexual Assault cases have been the most prevalent violent crime in the United States for the past decade. Almost two-thirds of the cases processed for forensic DNA analysis pertain to sexual assault crimes. Amongst the various presumptive and confirmatory tests for semen detection, microscopic observation of spermatozoa serves as the most often used and acceptable confirmatory method. As a result forensic laboratories devote a great deal of time and labor in viewing prepared microscope slides for the presence of sperm cells. The time required for this process has resulted in a significant backlog of forensic DNA cases, with approximately 300,000 to 500,000 sexual assault kits awaiting further analysis. The purpose of this study was to validate a novel method of sperm cell detection for application towards forensic sexual assault evidence samples.
Sperm Hy-Liter™ is a novel microscopic sperm cell staining kit developed by Independent Forensics in Illinois. The Sperm Hy-liter™ kit uses a fluorescent Alexa 488 dye coupled to a monoclonal antibody that binds specifically to human sperm heads, staining them a bright fluorescent green. The use of human spermatozoa specific antibody technology along with an easily visible dye enables efficient detection of sperm cells even in the presence of sample mixtures containing other cell types (i.e. blood cells, or vaginal epithelial cells). Additionally, the Sperm Hy-liter™ kit incorporates a second 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) fluorescent dye for simultaneous viewing of all cell nuclei, regardless of cell type, in the sample using a DAPI compatible fluorescent filter. Thus under an Alexa 488 compatible fluorescent filter antibody stained sperm cells will fluoresce, while under a DAPI compatible filter all DAPI stained cell nuclei will fluoresce.
Validation of novel procedures is required within forensic laboratories before their incorporation into routine case work. The developmental validation of the Sperm Hy-Liter™ kit was performed using samples of human semen, saliva, blood, and urine, various animal semen extracts, sexual lubricants, and a commercially available spermicidal film. Postcoital vaginal swabs, degraded semen samples, and samples prepared with sample fixation techniques that deviated from the developed protocol, were also tested. In each case, the SPERM HY-LITER™ kit was demonstrated to bind only to human sperm cell heads. Limitations to this fluorescent staining procedure include non-specific staining and increased background fluorescence with extreme heat fixation in some samples.
INTERPOL MATCH TO THREE UNSOLVED SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES IN CALIFORNIA
Presenter: Senior Forensic Scientist Mary Hong, Orange County Crime Laboratory
The three unsolved sexual assault cases occurred in Orange and San Diego counties. The man suspected of numerous felony counts of sexual assault in these cases was arrested in Austria following a DNA match through INTERPOL. The suspect, Ali Achekzai is accused of fleeing illegally into Canada and changing his name up to seven times and obtaining identification under those identities before being charged for the sexual assaults. He was suspected to have lived in Afghanistan, Germany, San Francisco, Canada, England, and Austria. Based on the fact that Achekzai had multiple California victims and knowing that he had traveled internationally prior to the crimes, the Tustin Police Department worked with the Orange County Sheriff's Department Crime Lab in December, 2009 to coordinate the submission of the evidence DNA profile to the international police agency, INTERPOL. Achedkzai was arrested on January 26 , 2010 in the Austrian town of Neukirchen am Grossvenediger and is waiting to be extradited to Orange County, California to stand trial. This presentation will discuss the three sexual assault cases and the process by which a crime laboratory can submit a DNA profile to INTERPOL to be searched against its database.
PEOPLE V. JOHN DOE DNA: PRESERVING THE STATUTE, PROSECUTING THE GUILTY
Ann Marie Schubert, Sacramento Co. District Attorney's Office
This session will cover the use of John Doe DNA warrants in the prosecution of criminal cases; specifically, it will cover the law that applies to these cases, the specific types of cases where it can be used in; and it will cover the challenges presented with DNA mixtures.
THE YOSEMITE SERIAL MURDER CASE - SUND/PELOSO/ARMSTRONG
Jeff Rinek, Retired Federal Bureau of Investigation and Chris Hopkins, Federal Bureau of Investigation
This presentation comprises a case description through the use of crime scene slides, followed by a 25 minute fragment of the killer's confession describing the evidence used in the crimes as previously presented via the crime scene pictures. The case presenters were participants in the actual case and can/will answer all questions. A firsthand account of the confession is also offered.
THE STEVEN TAUZER MURDER CASE: WHEN TRAGEDY HITS HOME
Gregory Laskowski, Kern County DA Forensic Science Division
Assistant District Attorney Steven Tauzer was found murdered in the garage of his residence in September of 2002. Chris Hillis, a former lieutenant of the Kern County District Attorney's Office Bureau of Investigation was soon developed as a suspect. DNA located on key evidence was crucial in developing Hillis as a suspect. Although the case was investigated by the Kern County Sheriff's Department, the crime scene was investigated by members of the Kern County District Attorney's Office Regional crime Lab. Initial evidence processing was also conducted by personnel from the KCDA Regional Crime Laboratory. Because of the onus of 'conflict of interest', the processing of evidence was halted by KCDARCL personnel, and the evidence was then packaged and shipped to the California State Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Sciences Laboratory. As a result of the Cal DOJ Laboratories Analysis of the DNA evidence Chris Hillis was arrested and charged with the murder of Steven Tauzer.
This presentation will focus on the evidence collected at the scene, its processing, and the resulting interactions of the presenter with the District Attorney, sheriff's homicide investigators, California Department of Justice personnel. The personal conflicts faced by the presenter having to investigate a high profile murder case of his boss and a colleague, who were both more than just acquaintances will be discussed.
THE BEHAVIOR OF EXPELLED GLASS FRAGMENTS DURING PROJECTILE PENETRATION AND PERFORATION OF GLASS
Lucien Haag, Forensic Science Services
Bullets striking common forms of flat glass with an orthogonal intercept angle result in a cloud of ejected glass fragments that are in concert with the exiting bullet's flight path. This is not the case with strikes at angles other than orthogonal. In these situations, the expelled glass fragments follow a different course from that of the exiting projectile. This is both counter-intuitive and a potential source of serious error in the evaluation and reconstruction of shooting incidents involving shots through glass such as windshields, vehicle side windows and windows in buildings. The flight path of the ejected glass fragments is, however, predictable and is dictated by the orientation of the plane of the glass at the exit site.
In all cases, these high velocity glass particles can produce downrange deposits on a variety of surfaces and can produce pseudo-stippling of the skin in individuals located near the projectile's exit site.
These phenomena will be illustrated in this presentation.
CHEMICAL AND INSTRUMENTAL TESTS FOR SUSPECTED BULLET IMPACT SITES
Lucien Haag, Forensic Science Services and Mahesh Patel, Phoenix Police Dept. Crime Laboratory
Known ricochet marks produced by a variety of 9mm pistol and .38-caliber revolver bullets were tested for copper and lead via the transfer technique. Small areas from positive 'lifts' for copper residues via the DTO test and lead residues via the sodium rhodizonate test were excised and examined by SEM-EDS. This not only allowed for a confirmation of copper and lead in these 'lifts' but also permitted the detection and identification of other metals associated with the construction and/or design of the bullet producing each impact site. This enhanced information included the detection of various levels of zinc alloyed with gilding metal and brass bullet jackets as well as the constituents of alternate bullet jacket compositions such as copper-plated steel jackets, aluminum jackets, and nickel-plated jackets. Trace amounts of copper from Lubaloy-plated lead bullets could also be detected by SEM-EDS examination of positive sodium rhodizonate 'lifts' of a ricochet impact site produced by a copper-plated Winchester .38 Special Lubaloy bullet. Both tungsten and copper could easily be identified in a ricochet mark produced by a 9mm frangible bullet composed of these two metals in a plastic matrix.
These SEM-EDS results extend and enhance the information otherwise hidden amid the copper and lead residues in bullet impact sites and bullet holes. This additional information waiting to be revealed in traditional wet chemical tests of suspected bullet impact sites by the application of this non-destructive and non-consumptive technique can be of significant benefit in certain cases as will be demonstrated.
METHAMPHETAMINE ENANTIOMER ENRICHMENT
Todd Davis and Nathan Salazar, Drug Enforcement Administration
Clandestine methamphetamine laboratories have undergone significant changes for the past couple years. After the US passed the Combat Methamphetamine Act in 2006, additional laws were passed in the United States and Mexico to control pseudoephedrine and ephedrine availability in 2007. Ever since this change, clandestine methamphetamine production strategies have been modified. The lack of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine supplies has led clandestine operators to change synthetic routes and return to the older phenyl-2-propanone (P2P) method. The P2P influence is evident by profiling methamphetamine samples seized throughout the United States and Mexico.
The large increase of P2P produced methamphetamine has more of an impact on potency than the purity. A P2P synthesis produces a racemic mixture of the d-isomer and the l-isomer. The presence of the l-methamphetamine results in a less potent form for distribution. The purity of the methamphetamine samples collected for profiling has been consistently above 90% since 2007. Samples analyzed from 2007 and earlier were almost exclusively d-methamphetamine produced by a phosphorous-iodine method using pseudoephedrine or ephedrine. The P2P produced methamphetamine has surged into the US market, thus increasing the availability of samples that contain l-methamphetamine.
In an attempt to produce a more potent product, the P2P clandestine operators are apparently using tartaric acid to separate the d-isomer from the l-isomer. Evidence from an Enrichment Superlab found in Guadalajara, Mexico will be discussed. This process normally produces unequal d- with l- and further processing can yield d-isomer only and l-isomer only products. This is one of the main reasons why approximately a 30% increase in unequal isomer samples has been identified and profiled since 2007. Amongst the P2P methamphetamine samples profiled at the DEA Special Testing Laboratory, only 5% had the racemic d,l-isomer with 45% unequal and 50% d or l only. This is more evidence that the P2P clandestine operators are using a resolving agent, like tartaric acid, to separate isomers during this process.
The P2P enriched methamphetamine samples have prompted the DEA to produce additional methods of isomer detection with greater sensitivity. A new derivatizing agent, (S)-(+)-alpha-methoxy-alpha-(trifluoromethyl) -phenylacetyl chloride (MTPA), has been developed on GC and GC/MS. Additional analysis by Capillary Electrophoresis has increased the laboratories accuracy to identify the unequal distribution of methamphetamine isomer products. The analytical results and manufacturing trends will be discussed and reviewed.
ISSUES FACING FORENSIC SCIENCE GRADUATE PROGRAMS
Fred Tulleners, UC Davis Forensic Science Graduate Program
This presentation will discuss some of the educational and administrative issues facing forensic science graduate programs and how they my impact the graduate student and the crime labs. Some crime lab managers have unrealistic expectations from a graduate program and expect the MS graduate to be fully qualified in a specified area. This concept is unrealistic and it overlooks a key function of a university graduate program. The recent meeting at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences all to well illustrated that the crime labs have abrogated their research effort, since the majority of the presenters where from academia either as professors or as research students.
During this presentation we discuss the following issues that affect a graduate program in the following areas:
- Primary Focus of a research based university
- Forensic Science Graduate Group concept
- MS Forensic Science focus
- M.S program funding - state vs. self supporting
- Graduate student funding
- Student Income issues, Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, Loans.
- Research funding opportunities/issues for forensic science program
- MS Degree program - research or coursework based:
- Typical MS degree program
- Time issues
- Research creep
- University theoretical classes vs. trade craft class
- Duties of the crime lab in regard to training their staff
- Interns duties in lab
- Benefit of a MS Degree
- Promotion, position, teaching future requirements
AN INTERESTING ZIP GUN CASE
Mike Appel, Department of Justice Fresno Laboratory
This case involves a suspect in possession of a suspicious device when stopped by police officers. Subsequently, the agency submitted a "concrete nail gun" to the Laboratory. This item of evidence was later determined not to be a nail gun, but rather a functioning firearm. Function testing of the homemade device was performed to determine if it would fire, as requested by the agency. Examination of the firearm demonstrated that it would fire .22 caliber rimfire cartridges.
CHARACTERIZATION OF MULTILAYERED GLITTER PARTICLES
Robert Blackledge, El Cajon, CA
Glitter can be important trace evidence. Glitter is not all alike! It shows great variety. The more ways a Questioned glitter particle may be characterized the smaller the subclass of evidence it will fall into and therefore the greater its potential value as associative evidence. Most glitter particles have multiple layers. Glitter is cut into small individual particles from rolls of multilayer film. Although there may be one or more metalized (aluminum) layers, most of the layers will consist of polymers. Not only are the number of layers an important characteristic, also are the composition and thickness of the individual layers. The factory machines that cut the film into individual glitter particles do not make nice clean cuts. Therefore it is not usually possible to simply stand an individual glitter particle on end and under a microscope count and measure the individual layers. Some of the layers may be quite thin. Obtaining an infrared spectrum of layers that are very thin may not be possible with an ordinary FT-IR microscope system. This presentation will show how making thin cross sections and using as the infrared source a beam line coming off the synchrotron at the Advanced Light Source, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory allowed us to both measure the thickness and obtain the infrared spectrum in transmission of individual layers in multilayered glitter particles.
THE EFFECT OF HEMATOCRIT CONCENTRATION ON FORENSIC BLOOD ALCOHOL ANALYSIS
Jessica Savopolos, Department of Justice Fresno Laboratory
Defense attorneys have been questioning the validity of forensic blood alcohol analysis based on an individual's hematocrit concentration. The purpose of this work was to determine how much, if any, hematocrit concentration values affect forensic blood alcohol measurements using the heated headspace gas chromatography technique with an n-propanol internal standard. Samples were generated from bovine blood to give samples with hematocrit values ranging from 0 to 84 percent. Statistical analysis of the average blood alcohol concentration and the sample hematocrit showed no statistically significant correlation between the blood alcohol level and the sample's hematocrit value. Plasma, whole blood, and red blood cell fractions from human donors were evaluated to confirm the results from the bovine blood experiment were applicable to the evaluation of human samples. These results showed no statistically significant difference between the measured blood alcohol levels for plasma, whole blood, or concentrated red blood cell fractions. The partitioning of ethanol and n-propanol in bovine blood was evaluated by adding the alcohol to the blood sample prior to separation of the plasma and red blood cell fractions. Both ethanol and n-propanol favor the plasma fraction to a similar extent. This supports that hypothesis that the similarity in their partitioning behavior removes any effect of hematocrit on the measured blood alcohol concentration with heated headspace with an internal standard.
STATISTICAL EVALUATION OF TORN DUCT TAPE END MATCHING
Ka Lok Chan, Fred Tulleners, John Thorton You-Lo Hsieh, UC Davis Forensic Science Graduate Program
Duct tapes are often submitted to crime laboratories as evidence associated with abductions, homicides, or construction of explosive devices. As a result, trace evidence chemists are often asked to analyze and compare commercial duct tapes that may establish a possible evidentiary link between different a suspect and a victim, or a suspect and a particular crime or between different crimes. Duct tape end matches, which is the re-assembly of two or more separated fragments, have significant evidentiary value and are considered to be the strongest association in forensic comparative examination. Even though it is a fairly routine examination, there is neither statistical data nor objective criteria to support what constitutes an end match. Hence, this study is designed to examine duct tape end matches in pursuance of developing some objective criteria and arriving at a relevant statistical basis for the comparative examination of duct tape tears.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF MOBILE REFERENCE DATABASE OF DOMESTIC MAMMALIAN HAIR
Elsbeth Murata, California State University, Fresno
With over 162.3 million domestic animals currently living with us in the United States, the hairs of dogs, cats, horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs have found their way onto the crime scene (1). Therefore, the ability to distinguish the hair of humans from the hairs of domesticated mammals is paramount to any forensic hair examination. However, the morphological characteristics of these hairs are highly variable, both along the length of a single hair shaft and between different types of hairs found covering the body. We have created an online database of the hairs of domestic animals that captures a wide range of this variability in order to assist trace evidence examiners with the identification of both human and non-human hairs.
The database contains digital images of 3 areas on each of 6 types of domestic mammal (back, belly, and tip of tail) and 3 areas on each human specimen (head, pubic, and axillary hair), so a valid comparison can be made and differences can be illustrated. Three images of each hair were taken: proximal, subshield, and shield to accommodate the inherent variation present on each specimen. The analysis of these digital images includes a number of microscopic characteristics of the hair, including shaft diameter, medullary index, cuticle designations, medullary configuration, cortex configuration, and pigment aggregation among others. Also included are macroscopic characteristics such as shaft length, color, and banding patterns. Using these characteristics collectively, the difference between human hair and domestic mammal hair can be determined.
With 4,982 crimes being committed per 100,000 residents in the United States (2), the ability to identify and differentiate forensic hair evidence may be the difference between successfully prosecuting a case and letting a perpetrator go free. Currently the database includes 50 domesticated mammals with more being continually added. This database will be available via the Internet making it highly accessible and adaptable to the needs of the trace evidence community. With further growth this database will become a truly valuable resource to the forensic science community.
MECHANISTIC DETAILS FOR DNA BINDING TO SILICA
Samantha Tosch, Los Angeles Police Department
Previous work that validated the M48 Biorobot for the extraction of forensic unknowns demonstrated that cell digests containing DNA quantities of 4 ng or less were extracted less effectively than samples that possessed more DNA. Clues to the nature and efficiency of DNA-silica binding interactions described in the literature suggested that improvements in DNA recovery resulting from enhanced binding of DNA to the silica beads might be achieved by decreasing the pH, increasing the temperature, or adding additional chaotrope, during the binding phase. When the binding conditions were altered, DNA yields did not always increase as expected. When other reasons were sought to account for the observed decreases in DNA yield, quantifiable amounts of DNA were detected in the final water wash solution and remaining on the beads following elution. DNA losses at each of these steps were reduced by altering the final wash solution and the solution in which the DNA was eluted.
FORENSIC INVESTIGATION OF THE SHOOTING DEATHS OF FOUR OAKLAND POLICE OFFICERS ON MARCH 21ST 2009
Mark Bennett, Oakland Police Department
A routine traffic stop by two Oakland Police Officers resulted in the worst incident of officer fatalities in the history of the Oakland Police Department. Two motorcycle Officers and two Entry Team (SWAT) Officers were fatally wounded by parolee Lovelle Mixon in a single day. After initially shooting two motorcycle Officers, Mixon hid in an apartment across from the scene. Oakland Police made entry into the apartment resulting in a gun battle that resulted in the deaths of two members of the Entry Team and Mixon. Scene investigation of the apartment, examination of clothing and equipment and shooting incident reconstruction using laser trajectory analysis shed light on the sequence of events that took place inside the building.
COMPARISON OF GRC FROM LEAD BULLET CORES WITH GRC FROM BULLET JACKETING
Nancy D. McCombs, Department of Justice Fresno Laboratory
With the current increase in cost and demand for ammunition, often lower quality products are the only option available for purchase, and may begin to be more frequently encountered in casework. As the jacketing material on much of this ammunition is significantly thinner than what is more traditionally observed, it readily separates from the bullet core. Examination of various types of ammunition, as well as comparison of general rifling characteristics observed on bullet cores with those observed on jacketing material are evaluated.
SEX, LIES, AND BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVELS
Stanley Dorrance, Forensic Science Services
This presentation will be a review of actual DUI cases that he has encountered wherein the blood alcohol results fall outside the normally expected levels. He will also be presenting examples of cases with documented preliminary alcohol screening tests, EPAS tests and blood alcohol test results are scientifically incompatible.
FEPAC - ITS IMPLICATION FOR THE UNIVERSITIES AND THE FORENSIC SCIENCE COMMUNITY
Fred Tulleners, UC Davis Forensic Science Graduate Program
In 2003 National Institute of Justice Technical Working Group for Education and Training in Forensic Science (TWGED) developed curriculum guidelines for undergraduate and graduate education in the United States. The document "Education and Training in Forensic Sciences: A Guide for Forensic Science Laboratories", proposed a series of educational standards for the forensic scientist. In 2002, this document led to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) established an ad hoc Forensic Science Educations Program Committee. In 2004, the committee was changed to the "Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission or FEPAC as it currently known. The FEPAC process has developed a series of standards that address all aspects of a forensic science education. At the undergraduate level they involve standards for the technical curriculum, core forensic science curriculum and such issues as research or a capstone project. At the graduate level they specify the entry level requirements degree and grade point requirements in addition to the core forensic science topics. FEPAC has the concept that research is still a key component. This paper will discuss the current accreditation standards, the self evaluation process, site inspection by two evaluators, and the final approval or denial by the FEPAC commission.
With the advent of a $250,000 NIJ research grant to the AAFS, the impact of FEPAC accreditation can further benefit the educational institutions in that this grant will bestow about $230,000 for student research in grants up to $5,000 per successful applicant. FEPAC accreditation can also indicate to the hiring authority, that the applicant has successfully completed a certain number of minimum standards appropriate to the forensic science community.
As of January 2010, there are 16 accredited FEPAC BS degree programs and 13 accredited FEPAC graduate programs.
THE CRIMINALISTICS LAB AS A TESTING FACILITY
Dr. Peter R. De Forest, Greg Matheson, Faye Springer
In this presentation we will assert that forensic science laboratory systems are widely viewed as little more than specialized testing facilities by members of the general public, and that this view of the forensic science function is common among lawyers, criminal justice professionals, and even some laboratory scientists. Further, we will argue that this conceptualization is naive and that this naiveté is at the root of many of the problems, real or perceived, that face the criminalistics profession and serve to severely limit its potential contributions to the investigation and adjudication of criminal cases.
We are fully aware that there are many formidable impediments to be overcome in bringing about positive change with respect to the recognition of the negative consequences of the existing situation and in taking the steps necessary to remedy it eventually. Some ideas for dealing with some of these will be put forward and discussed.
This contribution will take the form of an oral presentation laying out and detailing the major thesis. This will be followed by a panel discussion and a question and answer session to discuss the implications of the problems described and to review possible remedies.