127th SEMI-ANNUAL SEMINAR (Spring 2016)
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINALISTS
May 2-6, 2016
Los Angeles, California
DNA PHENOTYPING WITH PARABON® SNAPSHOT™
Dr. Steven Armentrout, Parabon NanoLabs
The Snapshot™ DNA Phenotyping Service is a revolutionary new forensics capability that accurately predicts ancestry and physical appearance from DNA evidence.
Until now, DNA without a match has been worthless to an investigation. With the introduction of Snapshot, unmatched DNA can serve as a genetic witness, and provide a great deal of information about a DNA source. In this 1-hour session, Dr. Steven Armentrout, Founder and CEO of Parabon NanoLabs, will present key aspects of Snapshot and its use.
Participants will learn:
- The typical workflow and requirements for using the Snapshot service
- The basic science behind DNA phenotyping
- Snapshotâ€™s strengths and limitations
- How it is best used during an investigation (via a hands-on class exercise)
If you are investigator who encounters tough cases with DNA evidence or a DNA forensic analyst wanting to stay on the cutting edge, you wonâ€™t want to miss this informational opportunity.
AARON CARTER SEXUAL ASSAULT SERIES
Detective Sharlene Johnson, LAPD, Robbery Homicide Division
On New Yearâ€™s Day, 2005, Carman T. and working at a Korea Town area McDonalds. Carmen was pregnant. She went into the restroom and was viciously sexually assaulted at knife-point. A female coworker entered the restroom and the suspect, 23 year old Aaron Carter fled. Male coworkers were alerted and chased down Carter who was detained a few blocks away. Carter was arrested by responding officers and criminal charges were subsequently filed.
Carterâ€™s DNA profile was entered into CODIS and by May 2006, it hit to three Los Angeles, California sexual assaults, as well as two Oakland, California sexual assaults. An additional case was identified via Modus Operandi. All of these cases occurred in 2004 while Carter was attending school in Pomona, California. The 2004 investigations yielded no suspect identification, resulting in them being closed Investigation Continued. This case study will review the cases, evidence and the impact DNA analysis had identifying the series and on the judicial outcome.
AN IMPROVED CAPILLARY ELECTROPHORESIS SYSTEM FOR HUMAN IDENTIFICATION
Sara Laber, Promega Corporation
Rapid DNA and NGS hold great promise for the forensics community to extend the reach and depth of DNA typing. While powerful complements to traditional capillary electrophoresis (CE) STR typing, neither approach is likely to replace CE analysis for the majority of forensic samples. As such, improving CE technology will be critical for advancement of forensic DNA typing. The Spectrum CE System will offer increased spectral capacity, which will allow analysis of existing 4-, 5- and 6-color chemistry as well as a new family of 8-color multiplex STR systems. With the additional colors, improved multiplex configurations will provide more complete and consistent results with degraded and inhibited case samples as well as variable â€śdirect ampâ€ť samples. The system will also offer increased flexibility and four continuously accessible plate positions. This design improves laboratory efficiency by reducing schedule conflicts, increasing overnight/weekend throughput and reducing the number of instruments needed in the laboratory. The presentation will include an overview of the Spectrum CE Systemâ€™s features as well as a review of initial data generated with existing STR chemistries.
IMPLEMENTATION OF PROBABILISTIC GENOTYPING AT THE SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT
Adam Dutra, Criminalist, San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory, Forensic Biology Section
In October 2015, the San Diego Police Department began the use of STRmix for probabilistic genotyping of casework data. We were the second public laboratory in California to incorporate probabilistic genotyping and the first laboratory west of Mississippi River to go live with STRmix. This presentation highlights the experiences we have had, the knowledge we have gained, and the lessons we have learned along the way. We will discuss the following topics: validation, implementation/training, changes to analytical record/notes, reporting, proficiency testing concerns, CODIS implications, testimony, and issues we encountered. We will provide some case examples to show how the power of probabilistic genotyping can assist in casework analysis and interpretations.
IMPLEMENTING PROBABILISTIC GENOTYPING AT DFSC: WE SURVIVED, SO CAN YOU
Sara Green, Forensic Biologist, Defense Forensic Science Center
An overview of the selection process, validation, and implementation of probabilistic genotyping software at the Defense Forensic Science Center. Competency training of analysts and work flow using ArmedXpert and STRmix will be addressed.
IT WASNâ€™T ME
Yukie Partos, Senior Criminalist, Los Angeles County Sheriffâ€™s Department, Scientific Services Bureau, Biology Section
This is a presentation of a case that occurred in 2012 and was investigated by the Los Angeles Sheriffâ€™s Department. It demonstrates the power of CODIS but potential difficulties with identification of an individual when using the forensic technologies currently readily available.
OPTIMIZING COLLECTION OF TRACE BIOLOGICAL SAMPLES FROM VEHICLE HEADRESTS
Kevin Tang, Student, San Jose State University
Adhesive tape and swabs are two methods for collecting biological samples commonly used in the UK and US to investigate crimes involving vehicles. Determining the most optimal collection method may lead to an increase in generating DNA profiles and crime-solving. The object of this study is to evaluate the efficiency of adhesive tape and the double-swab collection methods for investigating vehicle crimes with possible touch DNA samples. To determine this, touch sample recovery from different materials commonly used in vehicle headrests with varying concentrations of biological samples and 3 different storage times (1, 2 and 3 days) 1 will be evaluated. Specifically, 5 and 10 µL of saliva was spiked on mock vehicle headrests made of 3 different vehicle materials for DNA analysis. The different headrest materials collected for the experiment include; cloth, vinyl and leather.
Control samples were placed on the substrates and evaluation of the efficiency of recovery using the two collection methods was performed using qPCR. Additional sample set up and testing will be conducted once a baseline of efficiency is established through replicate and optimization testing. By optimizing this collection technique, we aim to aid in not only investigations involving vehicles but also other crimes with touch DNA evidence present.
THE RATTLESNAKE KILLER
Joan Renner, Author
On August 5, 1935, the body of pregnant newlywed, Mary Busch James, was discovered submerged in the backyard fish pond of the La Canada home she shared with her husband, Robert.
A Coronerâ€™s jury was convened and they agreed that the manner of Maryâ€™s death was drowning with a contributing factor of acute cellulitis of her left leg (possibly the result of an insect bite). What the jurors could not agree on was the cause of Maryâ€™s death â€“ was it an accident, suicide, or homicide? On the day she died Mary left a note addressed to her sister, but there was nothing in it to suggest suicide, and she didnâ€™t appear to have any enemies, so the jury returned an open verdict.
The Occidental Insurance Company held a policy on the deceased and conducted their own investigation. They questioned the widower but were not convinced that he was telling them the truth about his wifeâ€™s death. Occidental refused to pay out on the double indemnity policy and took Robert to court in an effort to get it canceled. Rather than continue to battle in court, the company offered Robert a settlement which was significantly less than the face value of the policy. He took the money. Despite the resolution of the case, the insurance company was so suspicious of Robert that they shared their concerns with the Sheriffâ€™s Department and the District Attorney.
Nine months following Maryâ€™s death the law was still pondering the information they had received from Occidental when an alarming tale of a murder plot against Mary reached their ears.
Based on the new information Maryâ€™s body was exhumed and autopsied a second time. The coroner concluded that the bite marks on her feet and legs had not been made by insects as originally thought. They had been made by the fangs of a rattlesnake.
What had really happened to Mary Bush James?
INTEGRATION OF FORENSIC SCIENCE WIRETAPS IN IDENTIFYING, CHARGING CONVICTING THE HOOVER CRIMINALS
Detective Daniel Jenks, LAPD, Robbery Homicide Division, Gang Homicide Unit
A case study will delve into a lengthy investigation involving the daring mid-day robbery of an armored truck during a delivery at a Bank of America branch. The robbery resulted in a shooting and the murder of one of the armored truck guards. The case was subsequently linked to a series of robberies and murders orchestrated by a crew of gang members and their associates. The case presentation will discuss how suspects were developed from DNA, ballistics, video surveillance and conventional investigative techniques which resulted in a wiretap investigation.
Ultimately, the case resulted in the suspects ambushing a detective working an active surveillance. The overview will discuss both the federal bank robbery trial, based largely on forensics as well as the subsequent state trial based primarily from the wiretap investigation. An interesting perspective of defeating potential forensic evidence will be demonstrated in the suspectsâ€™ own words.
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A BALLISTIC HEADFORM FOR BLOOD SPATTER RESEARCH
David Raymond, Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, Engineering Department, Donald Johnson, Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, Criminalistics Masterâ€™s Program
Back spatter refers to the ejection of blood particles in the direction opposite of a gunshot wound entrance. Crime scene investigators often analyze back spatter to reconstruct crime scenes and determine the proximity of the shooter to the victim. The mechanism(s) resulting in back spatter are still not well understood due to the complexities of the event and also the difficulty in conducting laboratory testing. Current methods used to study back spatter include shooting a bloodsoaked sponge, anesthetized animals, and cadavers. Each model has limitations whether it be anatomical, physiological or ethical. The purpose of this project is to develop a more biofidelic human head model to further investigate the mechanisms of blood back spatter from gunshot wounds. Surrogate materials were selected for the skull, scalp, brain, blood and blood vessels through accepted engineering down-selection methods as well as through experimental testing. Material properties from the literature were used where available and experimental testing conducted to collect additional biomechanical response characteristics. A simplified headform design will be presented along with preliminary test results from small caliber ballistic impacts.
GETTING FROM STRMIX TO CODIS USING THE COSTAR PROGRAM
Brian Burritt, CODIS Manager, San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory, Forensic Biology Section
STRmix is a probabilistic genotyping program the attempts to deconvolute mixtures into their contributor components, and for each component and locus it provides a list of possible genotypes and associated weights. This presentation will discuss the general approach to STRmix data interpretation at the San Diego Police Department and the use of the in-house created COSTaR Excel spreadsheet for efficiently creating CODIS profiles from STRmix data.
THE GENETIC STRUCTURE OF NATIVE AMERICANS IN NORTH AMERICA BASED ON THE GLOBALFILER® STRS
Kelly McCulloh, Student, UC, Davis, Department of Anthropology
Current forensic STR databases, such as CODIS, lack sufficient population genetic data on Native American populations; these populations are likely to have greater genetic differentiation than populations residing in the US. Given the limited population genetic data for Native American populations, it is necessary to generate information for a genetically and geographically diverse array of tribes to provide better statistical estimates of the strength of associations with DNA evidence in forensic investigations as well as to characterize Native American population structure. This study used the GlobalFiler® STR markers to characterize the genetic structure of ten Native American tribal populations from seven geographically distinct regions in North America, including tribes that are presently not represented in forensic STR databases.
Samples from the seven locations which include the Arctic region, Baja California, California/Great Basin, the Southeast, Mexico, the Midwest and the Southwest were analyzed for allele frequencies, observed and expected heterozygosities, and F-statistics using the GlobalFiler® PCR Amplification kitâ€™s 24 loci. Population specific private alleles observed in this study may assist direct or indirect comparisons to identify the source of forensic evidence or infer tribal or ethnic origin. Geographic isolation and distance, as well as past migration events, have shaped and structured the population genetics of current day Native Americans in North America. The tribal samples exhibited an FST or θ value above the conservative 0.03 estimate recommended by the National Research Council (NRC) for calculating random match probabilities among Native Americans. This finding, together with lower levels of heterozygosity, implies the locations from which these samples were derived were both geographically isolated and also genetically subdivided. The greater differentiation among tribal populations, FST = 0.04, than had been previously estimated warrants the inclusion of additional regional Native American samples into STR databases, such as CODIS.
ASSESSING CONSISTENCY AMONG DNA ANALYSTS IN YOUR LABORATORY
Supria Rosner, DNA Technical Leader, LAPD, Forensic Science Division, Serology/DNA Unit
In July 2015, ASCLD/LAB published a newsletter clarifying the interpretation of a DNA profile containing a mixture of two of more individuals. The newsletter cited 22.214.171.124 from ISO/IEC 17025:2005 as the most applicable accreditation requirement. Specifically, the goal was for laboratories to have defined steps that would enable different analysts in the same laboratory reach the same conclusion. This talk will focus on the steps taken by the Serology/DNA Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department to respond to this newsletter and discuss ways to assess consistency among analysts for DNA mixture interpretation.
AN INTERNAL VALIDATION OF THE POWERQUANT SYSTEM AT LAPD
Samuel Hong, Criminalist, LAPD, Forensic Science Division, Serology/DNA Unit
The presentation will cover an overview of the internal validation of the Promega Powerquant System within the LAPD Serology/DNA Unit. In addition the presentation will cover the experience since implementation of Powerquant for use with casework. The presentation will conclude with ideas for future uses of Powerquant.
EVALUATION OF THE MEGA KITS: GLOBALFILER, POWERPLEX FUSION AND POWERPLEX FUSION 6C AND OTHER STUFF
Learden Matthies, Senior Criminalist, Los Angeles County Sheriffâ€™s Department, Scientific Services Bureau, Biology Section; Greg Hadinoto, Senior Criminalist, Los Angeles County Sheriffâ€™s Department, Scientific Services Bureau, Biology Section
In anticipation of the mandatory requirement to adopt one of the available expanded STR kits, LASD performed an evaluation comparing GlobalFiler, PowerPlex Fusion and PowerPlex Fusion 6C to determine which would perform best. This evaluation includes sensitivity, degradation, mixture, and inhibition studies. Additionally, the three kits as well as GlobalFiler Express were assessed to determine their performance when utilizing them for direct amplification of various, common reference samples substrates.
This presentation also includes some highlights of work done to validate PowerQuant in our laboratory as well as the ongoing validation of PowerPlex Fusion 6C.
A STUDY TO DISTINGUISH HIGH ENERGY IMPACT DAMAGE TO TEXTILE FABRICS
Galyn Fischer, Dr. Katherine A Roberts, Amanda Davis, Manuel Muñoz
The movement towards the removal of lead and other heavy metal particles from the primer composition of ammunition has the potential to impact the interpretation of chemical test results for lead and other gunshot residue components that are commonly employed by forensic science agencies. Ammunition manufacturers are reducing airborne lead by adopting several reconfiguration designs, including enclosing the base of the projectile; enclosing the entire projectile with brass, copper or gilding metal; fabricating the projectile from a sintered metal that does not contain lead; and/or removing lead styphnate from the primer mixture.
This research addresses whether damage to textile fibers can be associated with a particular form of high energy impact in the absence of positive chemical testing. Textile fabrics comprised of 100% natural fibers, 100% synthetic fibers, 100% semi-synthetic fibers, and a blend of both natural and synthetic fibers were selected as target materials. Each target was damaged as a result of penetration caused either by a bullet or a high energy power tool. All forms of damage were performed in triplicate. This study used lead-free ammunition fired from a Glock, specifically total metal jacket (Speer [lawman] 9 mm Luger 115 GR. TMJ high performance centerfire cartridges) and brass enclosed base (Winchester [Winclean] 9 mm Luger 115 GR. BEB centerfire cartridges) ammunition. A barrel-to-target distance of six feet was maintained in order to discount the possibility of depositing gunshot residue on the target textile fabrics. Initially, each source of fabric material was subjected to the various forms of damage individually. In addition, the materials were combined by layering each fabric to form a stack of three different fabric types, and the damage was repeated.
The damaged area of the fabrics was initially examined with a stereoscopic microscope and photographed using visible and infrared photography. This was followed by chemical testing with both dithiooxamide and sodium rhodizonate. In addition, fibers were recovered from the damaged area for all of the textile fabrics in order to examine the morphology and optical properties with polarized light microscopy. This poster presentation will report and discuss the results of our research findings.
A STUDY OF STABILITY AND DEGRADATION BY GC/NPD: BUPROPION, CHLORPROMAZINE, OLANZAPINE
Christopher Tse, Caitlin Miller, Sue Pearring, Dr. Jay Vargas
Bupropion, Chlorpromazine, and Olanzapine are psychiatric medications that are prone to degradation in postmortem specimens from the time of collection to the initial and confirmation screen, thereby complicating interpretation. A better understanding of the time course and circumstances that contribute to this degradation was the focus of this work. To determine the stability and degradation of these three drugs, a quantitative liquid-liquid extraction was performed following analysis by GC-NPD. Commonly collected specimens at the Coronerâ€™s office (pigâ€™s blood, central blood, urine, bile, gastric contents, and liver) were individually pooled, spiked with drug, then extracted over the course of approximately 12 weeks. We investigated the utility of the preservatives (Sodium Fluoride, Potassium Oxalate, and EDTA) to determine if they may contribute to prolonging the stability of these drugs. Initial results confirm a time dependent degradation of these compounds. The effect of matrix type and preservative on degradation will be discussed.
THE OBSERVATION OF RIDGE DRIFT IN AGED LATENT FINGERPRINTS
Cathy A. Johnson, Josep De Alcaraz-Fossoul, Katherine Roberts
Latent fingerprints are commonly recovered from crime scenes. They may be compared with reference fingerprints to provide circumstantial evidence of the presence of an individual at a location, based on the recovery of contact prints on a particular surface. A limitation of this source attribution approach is the quality and quantity of the friction ridge characteristics. Factors known to affect the quality of the impression pattern include substrate features, type of deposition, environmental conditions, methods of collection, and distortion. These contribute potential sources of error to a comparison analysis. Further, the timeframe from occurrence to recovery may account for degradation effects that preclude a true contemporaneous comparison. A recent research study (DeAlcaraz-Fossoul et al., 2016) describes a new phenomenon, distinct from distortion or degradation effects, entitled fingermark ridge drift, which is characterized as a modification of (aged) fingerprint patterns at a ridge scale. Little is currently known of the underlying cause or factors contributing to the occurrence of ridge drift. However, fingerprint ridge drift has practical implications in the field of fingerprint identification. Currently, the SWGFAST document does not consider fingerprint ridge drift in order to account for dissimilarities. As a result, an examiner who compares an aged latent print to a fresh reference print without considering ridge drift may erroneously report an inconclusive result where a positive identification may be justified.
The present study was designed to both replicate and expand upon the previous study. Sebaceous and eccrine prints were obtained from a male and female donor, both of similar age. Two substrates were included to serve as the deposition medium (ceramic tile and polystyrene). Three fingerprints were simultaneously deposited (index, middle and ring fingers), stored indoors and exposed to three different natural light conditions (lightness, shade and darkness) over a period of 12 weeks.
The aged latent prints were processed with carbon (black) or titanium dioxide (white) powder for visualization, and documented photographically prior to comparison with the reference inked prints. The prints were tape lifted from the substrates for preservation.
This poster presentation will report and discuss the results of our research findings.
QUANTITATION OF 7 ATYPICAL ANTIPSYCHOTIC DRUGS IN POST MORTEM MATRICES USING LC-MS/MS
Rubi Gama, Caitlin Miller, Christopher Dalchele, Dr. Jay Vargas
Atypical antipsychotics are a highly prescribed class of drugs that can be difficult to detect in medical examiner casework using standard GC-MS methods because of post-mortem changes. This work focused on developing a method to quantitate seven atypical antipsychotics in a single workflow using liquid-liquid basic drug extraction and LC-MS/MS. The drugs analyzed included Aripiprazole, Asenapine, Iloperidone, Lurasidone, Risperidone, 9-OH Risperidone, and Ziprasidone. The validation procedure followed the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Toxicology guidelines to determine the calibration curve, bias, precision, limit of detection, limit of quantitation, dilution integrity, carryover, stability, recovery, drug interference, matrix effects, and ion suppression. We examined these drugs in the following matrices: heart blood, femoral blood, vitreous humor, urine, bile, liver, and stomach contents. We used a calibration curve range of 2 to 250 ng/mL for the 7 drugs. Our results indicated that bias was within 20% from the target value for all drugs except Iloperidone. In between run precision results were within 20% from the target value for Aripiprazole, Risperidone, and Iloperidone. Within run precision results were within 20% from target value for Aripiprazole and Iloperidone. Ziprasidone was found to be unstable in all the matrices, exceeding 20% from the target value. The rest of the drugs were stable in most of the matrices. We were unable to successfully validate all 7 drugs for quantitation in a single run, however, the method is suitable for qualitative drug screening procedures in the laboratory.
VALIDATION OF I-STAT®1FOR THE QUANTIFICATION OF ELECTROLYTES AND GLUCOSE IN POSTMORTEM VITREOUS HUMOR
Laura Monzon, Sue Pearring, Caitlin Miller, Dr. Jay Vargas
The analytical value of vitreous humor as a sample in postmortem forensic toxicology has been known for some time. Numerous medical examiner laboratories send out this important sample for electrolyte and glucose measurements. This is both time-consuming and costly. The utility of the i-STAT®1 medical device to measure electrolytes and glucose in whole blood samples has been demonstrated for over two decades. This project sought to investigate the effectiveness of the i-STAT®1 medical device for utilization in electrolyte and glucose measurements using vitreous humor as sample matrix. The i-STAT®1 is an electromechanical device that utilizes three sensors: conductometric, potentiometric, and amperometric. Single-use disposable cartridges introduce samples to i-STAT®1. Various cartridge types allow for the analysis of various analytes including: sodium, potassium, chloride, creatinine, urea nitrogen, and glucose. Through this mechanical process, an electrical internal conductor of the analyzer contacts the electrode of a cartridge, sensing the potential(s) generated from analyzer/cartridge interaction. With only 100µL of sample, results are given in under four minutes. Following the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Toxicology (SWGTOX) standard practice for method validation, quantitative analysis of postmortem vitreous humor revealed the validity and reliability of the i-STAT®1. All analytes of interest received a percent difference less than ±10% for both accuracy and precision studies. Percent differences for sodium at low medium and high concentrations were 0.236%, 0.281%, and 0.0766%. Drug interference studies were performed with many of the analytes receiving a percent difference less than ±20%. Interestingly, there was significant interference of drug spiked vitreous humor samples with the presence of ethanol giving inconclusive results for all analytes except creatinine, which had a percent difference of 50%. Overall, the i-STAT®1 was accurate and precise at all analytical ranges for its intended use. As vitreous humor has been used in forensic medicine to help diagnostic interpretation, the i-STAT®1 has the potential to give accurate results in a timely and cost-effective manner.
AN INVESTIGATION OF BLOODSTAINS ON DARK SURFACES AND UNDER PAINT WITH THE FOSTER AND FREEMAN INFRARED CRIME-LITE 82S AND CAMERA
Emily Drake, Kristin Rocco, Katherine Roberts
Bloodstain evidence can be obscured and lost when deposited on dark surfaces where no contrast exists between the bloodstain and the surface. This may also occur when a suspect attempts to conceal bloodstains by painting over them. This research investigates the detection and visualization of bloodstains on dark surfaces and under paint with the use of an infrared alternate light source (IR ALS), specifically the IR Crime-lite 82S manufactured and distributed by Foster and Freeman. The objective is to demonstrate that the system offers a valid, non-destructive tool for criminalists to use in their search for probative bloodstain evidence.
According to the specifications provided by Foster and Freeman, the IR Crime-lite 82S emits IR radiation, and when examining a dark substrate, the background will reflect the IR light whereas bloodstains that are present will absorb IR light. The IR-sensitive camera detects the IR light and the tablet software visualizes the contrast between the bloodstains and the background. As a result, the background will â€śdrop outâ€ť and appear lighter relative to the darker bloodstain. This difference in contrast increases the visibility of the bloodstain. Neat porcine blood was deposited on various dark-colored non-porous, porous, and painted surfaces in the form of drop, smear, contact, and fine spatter stains. A porcine blood dilution series (1:2, 1:4, 1:8, 1:16, and 1:32) was applied to these same samples in the form of droplets. The Crime-lite and camera was used to scan the treated surfaces in real-time, and capture images when illuminated with both visible and infrared light. Bloodstains deposited on the painted surfaces were concealed by painting a layer of paint over the bloodstain. Additional IR images were subsequently captured to determine the transmission of IR light and detection of the bloodstains under the paint.
To investigate the IR absorption properties of blood, a sample of each porcine blood dilution was centrifuged to separate and quantify the blood components with a hemocytometer prior to application on a black cotton sample and examination with the Crime-lite. A separate hemoglobin dilution was prepared, quantified via UV-Vis Spectrometry, applied to a black cotton sample, and also examined using the Crime-lite. This poster presentation will report and discuss the results of our research findings.
A STUDY TO INVESTIGATE A MODIFIED APPLICATION OF THE PHOSPHATESMO KM RAPID TEST STRIPS
Pertchoui Mariam Grigorian, Dr. Catherine Nguyen, Lisa M. Brewer, Donald Johnson
Presumptive biochemical testing may be used to characterize stains found at crime scenes. It can minimize the unnecessary use of resources and downstream testing. One method for the, the presumptive identification of semen involves the detection of acid phosphatase, which is found in the plasma portion of seminal fluid. Although acid phosphatase is not specific to semen, elevated concentrations are found in prostatic secretions. Historically, acid phosphatase testing has been conducted through the use of liquid reagents, but the need for more stable testing reagents led to the development of the Phosphatesmo KM rapid test strips. These test strips are individually wrapped pieces of filter paper containing the reagents necessary for the presumptive testing of acid phosphatase. There is no need for additional chemical reagents to drive the reaction forward. According to the manufacturer, the addition of deionized water or physiological saline solution to the suspected stain and then the application of the test strip to the stain will result in a presumptive identification within 5 seconds. To avoid direct contact between the suspected stain and the test strips, a modified method of application was performed in this study.
This modification involved swabbing the stain in question with a sterile moist swab and then applying the swab to the test strips. Alongside this modification, a side by side comparison of the traditional acid phosphatase test and the Phosphatesmo KM test strips was conducted. Serial dilutions of semen from a single donor were spotted on various substrates to compare the sensitivity of the two testing methods. The specificity of the strips was also examined by testing different biological matrices and plant stains, which contain acid phosphatase in various amounts. The initial results of this study suggest that the sensitivity of both methods is similar in nature. Additional data will be presented by the author on the performance of the Phosphatesmo KM test strips, which will be discussed in reference to the suitability of the strips as a replacement for the tradition acid phosphatase test, both in a forensic laboratory setting and at crime scenes.
A STUDY TO INVESTIGATE A MODIFICATION TO THE PHADEBAS® PRESS TEST AND PHADEBAS® TUBE TEST
Brianne Henderson, Catherine Nguyen, Lisa Brewer
Saliva stains may be associated with a variety of evidential items and a sufficient amount of epithelial cells may be recovered from the stain for the purpose of DNA analysis. However, saliva stains are difficult to visually locate without the use of a presumptive test. One such test is the Phadebas® Forensic Press Test, which incorporates starch microsphere polymers coated on the test paper. The starch polymer is biochemically degraded by the -amylase present in saliva, releasing a blue dye in the process. Hence, a positive result for -amylase produces a blue color reaction on the paper. Based on the manufacturerâ€™s recommended procedure, the chemically treated side of the Phadebas® Press Test paper is placed directly in contact with the item suspected to contain a saliva stain. This approach to testing is of concern given that it may potentially alter or impact the probative value of the evidence with respect to subsequent analyses.
In the present study, a modified version of both the Phadebas® Press Test and the Phadebas® Tube Test was evaluated as potential alternatives to the manufacturerâ€™s recommended protocol. Initially, for each of the two tests, moist filter paper was placed on the test in order to transfer a portion of the stained area to the paper. For the modified Press Test, the Press Test paper was placed in contact with the filter paper in order to observe a color reaction. In the case of the modified Tube Test, the filter paper was submerged slightly in a Phadebas® solution (aqueous), removed from the solution and rinsed prior to observing a color reaction. For this study, serial dilutions of saliva from each of six (male and female) donors were prepared and analyzed in order to determine the sensitivity of the two modified methods. The specificity of the Phadebas® reagent was also evaluated by comparing the results obtained with human saliva to a source of non-human saliva, other bodily fluids, and plant stains.
The initial results of this study suggest that the modified Phadebas® Tube Test may offer a suitable alternative method for use in a laboratory setting where it is preferable to avoid direct contact between the chemical and item of evidence. This poster presentation will report and discuss the results of our research findings.
APPLICATION OF MICROFLUIDIC TECHNOLOGY FOR SINGLE SPERM CELL ISOLATION AND STR TYPING FROM MULTI-DONOR SPERM MIXTURES
Fei-Chi Lai, Dr. Cassandra Calloway
Mixed DNA evidence is characterized by a significant difficulty in differentiating contributor genotypes. Biological evidence recovered from a sexual assault crime scene including the victimâ€™s body can be a mixture of female-male or male-male cells from multiple contributors. Conventional differential extraction methods can be applied to separate sperm cells from a large amount of epithelial cells. However, the recovery rate of sperm cells may be largely reduced during extraction and it is ineffective for separating sperm cells from multiple contributors.
New developments in microfluidic technologies allow efficient and high throughput approaches for single-cell analysis and have forensic potential. For one such technology, the recent introduction of a size-selective chip in a smaller size range provides an opportunity to capture and separate single spermatozoa, which can be used for resolving mixtures, encountered in multiple perpetrator sexual assault (MPSA) cases. The aim of this study was to establish a feasible protocol for the sperm cell preparation in C1 Single-Cell Auto Prep System and apply its microfluidic technology to differentiate a sperm cell mixture from multiple donors and obtain consistent STR profiles of each individual.
In order to establish the protocol, several parameters were examined, including centrifugation speed, wash buffer, centrifugation time, removal of round cells, and fluorescent staining. Additionally, Tris(2-carboxyethyl) phosphine, or TCEP, was experimented to increase the DNA yield in whole-genome amplification of multiple displacement amplification (WGA-MDA). The results indicated C1 Single-Cell Auto Prep System could capture spermatozoa/spermatogenic cells successfully yet WGA-MDA provided limited efficiency for downstream STR analysis. The capture rate was up to 64.6% (n=62). 42 partial STR profiles of the captured cells were obtained and the maximal marker call rate was 87.5% (n=14). In addition, on the off-chip tests of MDA, TCEP yielded approximately 1.8 fold greater amounts of DNA from 1 Million/mL sperm cell samples than DTT.
Using the optimized protocol, we succeeded in capturing single sperm cells and resolving a sperm cell mixture from two individuals using STR analysis. Our optimized procedure for cell isolation of spermatozoa using microfluidics has broad applications in genetics and in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, significant modifications are required in order to be applicable to forensic analysis. Several approaches may be applied in a future study in order to both increase the capture rate and improve the efficiency in downstream analysis, such as cell sorting, the implementation of a different amplification method, and the application of other tools in downstream analysis.
Although further studies are needed, based on the success of STR analysis from single sperm cells in our study, the C1 System shows promise for resolving mixtures often encountered in sexual assault cases.
DEVELOPMENT OF A MULTIPLEX ASSAY FOR SIMULTANEOUS DNA QUANTIFICATION AND BODY FLUID IDENTIFICATION
Alexandra Chavez, Angela Cheng
Biological stains are one the most common types of evidence found at crime scenes. Prior to DNA extraction, quantification, and typing, the questioned biological stains are subject to serological tests in the field and in the laboratory to screen and identify the biological fluids. While these tests are currently a necessary step in the analysis of bodily fluids, the tests generally lack specificity and are labor-intensive to perform. Moreover, the tests consume sample and are incompatible with DNA analysis. In this study, we propose to develop a molecular-based method for body fluid identification using microRNA markers, which is integrated into the DNA quantification step of STR analysis. This multiplex assay for DNA quantification and body fluid identification could potentially be to improve workflow in the lab and reduce the number of analytical steps required to characterize a forensic sample.
Previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of microRNA markers for the identification of body fluids commonly encountered in forensic casework. In these studies, however, each microRNA marker was tested for individually, and the testing was performed irrespective of nuclear DNA analysis. Contrastingly, nuclear DNA and RNA will be co-extracted from each semen and blood sample in this research. The proposed multiplex assay will simultaneously test for the presence of two microRNA markers and the human telomerase reverse transcriptase gene. MicroRNA miR-185 will be used for the identification of venous blood; microRNA miR-891a will be used for the identification of semen; and the human telomerase reverse transcriptase gene will be used to identify and quantify nuclear DNA. The simultaneous testing of the three markers will be achieved by the use of target-specific TaqMan® probes and primers. With this approach, body fluid identification can accomplished at the quantification step of DNA analysis, thus eliminating the need for separate serological testing. At this presentation, the authors will discuss the results of the preliminary studies on the development of the multiplex assay, and the feasibility of this approach to resolve problems associated with conventional serological testing.
PROXIMAL END ROOT MORPHOLOGY CHANGES IN ANAGEN HAIRS FOLLOWING EXPOSURE TO VARIOUS SOLUTIONS
Athika Anwardeen, Dr. Katherine A Roberts
This research investigates proximal end root morphology changes in human anagen head hair from antemortem
subjects. Hairs were exposed to various environmental conditions in an effort to identify the factors that contribute to the formation of antemortem root banding. A total of five anagen hairs from 30 living subjects were exposed to eight different environmental conditions, including submerging hairs in NanopureTM water, normal saline, 3% hydrogen peroxide, ocean water, phosphate buffer solution, antibacterial solution, ethanol, and xylene. The hairs were exposed to each environment for a period of 14 days and subsequently examined by plane polarized light microscopy for the presence of anagen root banding. This poster presentation will report and discuss the results of our research findings.
EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF DIFFERENT SOLVENTS FOR THE COLLECTION OF AGED BLOODSTAINS
Ahra Ahn, Ieng Seng Lam Cheng
Aged bloodstains are often encountered in forensic casework. Aged bloodstains can be problematic to collect and test, because of the stains poor solubility with water. This research investigates the effectiveness of four different solvents for the collection of aged bloodstains: water, 3% ammonia, 5% ammonia and 70% ethanol. A total of three bloodstains for each of the four solvents were deposited on three different substrates: brick, wood, and glass. 40µL drops of blood were used to create bloodstains on brick and wood, and 5 ÂµL drops of blood were used on the glass surface due to its non-porous surface. The bloodstains were exposed to high temperature to accelerate the aging process. The bloodstained substrates were placed in an oven at 70 Â°C and sampled biweekly for up to 16 weeks. Sixteen weeks at 70 Â°C represents 9.29 years of aging.
Bloodstains were swabbed for 30 seconds with a moistened swab. The same method of swabbing was used for all of the samples. The effectiveness of the different solvents on the collection of aged bloodstains was assessed by the strength of a catalytic color test for blood and by the yield of nuclear DNA as determined by the Quantifiler assay following QIAGEN extraction. Ammonia showed more effective on collecting aged bloodstains than water and with ethanol on the brick samples. Ammonia swabs appeared to have more intense color than water and ethanol swabs. Ammonia was be able to dissolve stains quickly which allowed swabbing to occur more smoothly than with the other solvents on wood and glass substrates. Also, less flaking was observed on the glass with ammonia than with water and ethanol. However, water showed more effective on collecting the stains than ammonia on wood and glass substrates. Ethanol was poor at collecting stains on brick, but effective on wood and glass substrates. Additional results of this ongoing research will be discussed by the author at the presentation.
DNA IN THE DUMPS
Sinai Yoo, Caitlin Harris
Human DNA has been used in forensic science as an identification marker, using various methods to extract and generate a probative profile that can hold up in a court of law. DNA sources will result in various quantitative amounts dependent on the method of extraction as well as the nature of the biological source.
Although amounts of DNA are rarely the same when collected from various sources, it is rare that objects collected from crime scenes originate from a single source. Oftentimes, the samples are a mix of two or more DNA contributors as individuals carry and shed not only their own DNA but also trace amounts of DNA they come into contact with.
The two categories of DNA shedding or transfer are primary and secondary; primary sources of DNA may include blood, saliva or semen. Whereas secondary transfer can occur through handling of items, however it is unique in that without handling an object, a contributor may pose the risk of contaminating a DNA source by solely being in close proximity to another item that may also contain DNA.
It is the aim of this project to extract DNA samples from sources where secondary transfer may have occurred, analyze how thoroughly mixed the profiles appear to be. A secondary goal of this project is to determine whether or not profiles can be created and analyzed when the source of DNA is collected from a location with several different contributors.
BULLET IMPACT DAMAGE TO TINTED VEHICLE SIDE WINDOWS
Jessica R. Vuguin, Julie Wilkinson, Kathleen Alvarado, Jack Seror
Tempered glass that has undergone damage from a high velocity impact may exhibit distinct physical characteristics. These characteristics can provide important information that may help determine the sequence of events. While investigating firearm-related offenses suspected to involve a motor vehicle, criminalists also report scenarios where they encounter a small amount of intact glass present within the window frames of the vehicle. Casework has shown that the glass may be missing while the tint remains attached to the window frame.
This study examines an alternative method to evaluate the sequence of events by analyzing the characteristics of the tint remaining in the windows. This was accomplished by examining the physical characteristics or patterns developed as a result of bullet impact damage. Several experiments were conducted using tinted vehicle windows as the target substrate and replicating â€śshootingâ€ť reconstruction scenarios typically encountered at crime scenes. Several independent variables were incorporated in the study, including the weathering of the vehicle side-windows, shooting angle of impact, firearm-to-window shooting distance, directionality, and type of tint applied to the side window.
The impact damage developed for each window was compared with respect to the independent variables. Dyed tints were applied to tempered vehicle windows, some of which were exposed to environmental weathering conditions. The exposed and non-exposed windows were subsequently shot multiple times with a semi-automatic pistol (9mm Luger caliber, Glock, model 19) using full metal jacket ammunition (Federal, American Eagle brand, 115 grain bullets). The physical characteristics of each impact were documented photographically prior to further analysis.
The results of this study demonstrate that distinctive patterns may develop when exposed to certain variables. Some recurring characteristics and patterns developed surrounding the bullet impacts as well as across the window surface. Certain physical characteristics associated with the bullet impact developed at specific shooting angles; for example, a 90Â° impact angle showed a circular area of damage to the tint whereas a 20Â° impact angle (directed upward or downward) demonstrated elongated damage.
The results also show that weathering caused the tint to adhere better to the glass, while non-weathering caused the tint to become loose surrounding the impacts. In addition, when the direction the bullet traveled was from the interior to the exterior side of the window, this resulted in a distinct circular pattern and minimal flapping of tint surrounding the impact. This differed from the appearance of the window and tint when the window was shot from the exterior to the interior side. Further research is underway to expand the study, including examination of impacts produced in windows with ceramic and metallic type tints.
IDENTIFICATION OF POLYMORPHISM IN ETHYLONE HYDROCHLORIDE
Pallister, Julie; Maheux, Chad; Alarcon, Idralyn; Copeland, Catherine
Ethylone, a synthetic cathinone with psychoactive properties, is a designer drug which has appeared on the recreational drug market in recent years. Since 2012, illicit shipments of ethylone hydrochloride have been intercepted with increasing frequency at the Canadian border. Analysis has revealed that ethylone hydrochloride exists as two distinct polymorphs. The two conformational polymorphs of ethylone hydrochloride have been synthesized and fully characterized by FT-IR, FT-Raman, pXRD, scXRD, GC-MS, ESI-MS/MS and NMR (1H, 13C, and 13C CPMAS). The polymorphs can be distinguished by vibrational spectroscopy, solid-state NMR spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction techniques. The data presented will assist forensic scientists in the differentiation of the two ethylone hydrochloride polymorphs.
HAIR ANALYSIS AND ITS RELEVANCE IN INVESTIGATION OF VIOLENT PERSONAL CRIMES
Jessica Bouchet and Nicole Bracci
The macroscopic and microscopic examination of hairs from different sources is a key element in the forensic science community. In this research project, hairs from several sources, ranging from humans to animals, were examined to determine characteristics that allow identification. As the habitat of a crime scene can range from a household (indoor crime scene) to a wooded area, it is important to determine what is relevant and what is extraneous prior to subjecting these items to expensive and labor intensive DNA testing.
A hair examiner should be able to determine what pieces of evidence are of significance to the crime scene by ruling out any commonly occurring objects that may not be of importance. An example of this is the presence of a dog hair. If the crime scene is a residence where the victim has a pet dog, these animal hairs will be of no significant value in this case as they were present prior to the commission of the crime. However, if the victim does not have a dog, and an analyst identifies dog hairs collected at the scene, this evidence becomes important. In addition, if a person of interest in that case does have a dog, then the evidence becomes crucial in the Identification of a suspect and this evidence can play a major role in the case. With todayâ€™s technological advances, nuclear and mitochondrial DNA testing is possible on human and animal hairs, however it is very costly and time consuming. For this reason, macroscopic and microscopic examinations are important, particularly for the purpose of exclusion.
RESURRECTING A COLD CASE: PEOPLE V. STEPHANIE LAZARUS
Shannon Presby, Assistant Head Deputy, Los Angeles County D.A.s Office, Justice System Integrity Division, Paul Nunez, Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County D.A.s Office, Justice System Integrity Division
"A bite, a bullet, a gun barrel and a broken heart" â€“ that was the evidence that prosecutors Shannon Presby and Paul Nunez presented to prove that Stephanie Lazarus murdered Sherri Rasmussen. Lazarusâ€™ motive for murder was romantic jealousy. Three months before Sherri was killed, she married the man that Lazarus loved.
Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in her home of February 24, 1986. She was beaten in the face and head, bitten on the left inner forearm and shot three times in the chest. One of the gunshot wounds was a â€ścontact shotâ€ť showing that the killer placed the barrel of the gun against Sheriâ€™s chest and pulled the trigger.
In 1986, Stephanie Lazarus was a Police Officer 1 with the Los Angeles Police Department. Lazarus had attended college at UCLA where she met John Ruetten. Lazarus and Ruetten became friends at UCLA. After graduating from UCLA, Lazarus and Ruettenâ€™s relationship became intimate. For Lazarus, Ruetten was â€śthe oneâ€ť the man she was destined to spend her life with. Ruetten did not feel the same way about Lazarus.
In 1984, Ruetten met Sherri and the two fell in love. They became engaged in the spring of 1985. Lazarus did not take this well. She wrote in her journal that Ruettenâ€™s engagement was â€śvery, very badâ€ť and that she could not concentrate at work because of her emotional upset regarding Ruettenâ€™s romance
Lazarus attempted to get Ruetten to change his mind. She confessed her long hidden love for him and asked him not to marry Sherri. When this did not work she confronted Sherri at her place of employment. Despite Lazarusâ€™ efforts, Sherri and John were married in November of 1985. Three months later Sherri was murdered.
The initial investigator concluded that Sherri had been murdered by burglars. No arrests were ever made and the case went unsolved for more than 20 years.
But what that detective didnâ€™t know; what Lazarus didnâ€™t know; what nobody could have known in 1986; was that a tiny blueprint of the murderer was hiding in the bite on Sherriâ€™s arm. A microscopic copy of Stephanie Lazarus hid in the DNA swabbed from the bite on Sherriâ€™s arm. That microscopic killer sat frozen in the coronerâ€™s freezer for more than 18 years.
UTILIZING UNCERTAINTY: THE PATH TO IMPROVEMENT
Joshua S. Spatola, Bureau Quality Assurance Manager (Criminalist Manager), California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Science, Quality Assurance Unit
It has now been over two years since the implementation of measurement uncertainty requirements for those laboratories accredited by ASCLD/LAB to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standards. For some agencies and/or their staff members, the years leading up to this implementation nearly mirrored the seven stages of grief: Disbelief, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Guilt, Depression, and ultimately Acceptance.
The California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services implemented the measurement uncertainty requirements in drug weights, firearms length measurements, forensic alcohol, and drug quantitation in toxicology samples. This spanned 11 different laboratories, up to 65 different analysts, numerous pieces of equipment, and thousands of data points.
This presentation takes a look at the process of estimating measurement uncertainty from the point of view of improvement. Not only in regards to improving the estimated uncertainty values, but more importantly, in order to improve the measurement process itself. Additionally, the presentation gives several real world examples in which information discovered during the uncertainty estimation was used to improve the measurement processes being used.
LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS IN FORENSIC SCIENCE
Michael Chamberlain, Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice
Judges and legislators continue to grapple with forensic science issues. This presentation will highlight recent legal developments of interest to practitioners. Topics, which could evolve to represent those that are most timely and relevant, may include:
- Discovery of criminalist personnel file information in the wake of People v. Johnson,
- The legality of conducting DNA testing in sexual assault cases where the victim has declined to participate in the investigation,
- More from the California Supreme Court on expert witnesses and the confrontation clause.
FIREARM SERIAL NUMBER RESTORATION WITH ELECTRON BACKSCATTER DIFFRACTION
Ryan M. White, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Serial numbers are the primary means of identifying and tracking firearms, and often, serial numbers will be criminally destroyed in an effort to mask the identity of the specific firearm. In some cases, defaced serial numbers can be restored via acid etching or magnetic particle inspection techniques, which distinguish the deformed area of the original serial number from the surrounding metal.
The basis of serial number restoration is the detection of sub-surface crystallographic changes imparted by the marking tool. There are scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging modes, including forward scattered imaging (FSI) and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), which probe a material microstructure and can be extremely sensitive to localized changes in material crystal structures.
In this work, a letter X was die-stamped into a polished piece of 316L stainless steel and then polished away such that the imprint was no longer visible. After the surface was polished, the sample was imaged with multiple techniques (FSI, EBSD) in the SEM. The original imprint was successfully restored with both techniques, though with varying success. FSI provided a faint restoration of the stamped imprint while EBSD pattern quality mapping produces a clear an unambiguous reconstruction of the original imprint.
The details (and a brief scientific background) of the new restoration technique will be discussed, including the depth of restoration, the limitations of the technique, and the potential application of the technique in forensic science laboratories.
OBTAINING DNA FROM FIRED CARTRIDGE CASINGS, AN UPDATE
Patrick Oâ€™Donnell, San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory, Forensic Biology Section
The San Diego Police Departmentâ€™s DNA Laboratory conducted an extensive study of the ability to obtain DNA profiles from both fired and unfired ammunition. The laboratory, using a modified extraction protocol initially developed in the Netherlands was able to demonstrate that a significant number of DNA profiles could be developed from recovered casings. Historically, many laboratories have excluded the DNA analysis of casings recovered at shooting scenes, in part due to concerns that little DNA existed on the evidence, or because the act of firing and heating destroyed or inhibited DNA recovery. We presented the results of a comprehensive study on the ability to obtain DNA from fired and unfired cartridge casings at the Spring 2014 CAC Seminar.
The laboratory has been routinely testing fired casings in both homicides and gang shootings for nearly two years. This presentation will discuss several cases where DNA profiles recovered from casings and searched in CODIS led directly to the prosecution of those involved in the shooting incident. The presentation will also summarize the data obtained during that two year period to include number of cases analyzed, percent success per casing, percent success per case, DNA amounts recovered, and profiling ability either with initially Identifiler and Minifiler and more recently GlobalFiler.
I HAD A CASE - ANALYSIS OF HANDWRITING AND PRINTER DEFECTS IN A STALKING CASE
Jane Rodriguez, Questioned Documents Examiner II, LAPD, Forensic Science Examiner, Questioned Documents Unit
The client files of a therapist were stolen and subsequently the clients received both handwritten and machine printed letters stating that the therapist was breaching confidentiality laws. The anonymous sender was seeking to have the therapists license to practice revoked.
Meanwhile, the therapist received threatening text messages on her personal cell phone. She suspected her soon to be ex-husband of sending the letters and texts.
The letters, along with a printer seized from the suspectâ€™s residence, were submitted to the LAPD Questioned Documents Unit for analysis. The results of a handwriting analysis showed that it was highly probable that the suspect wrote one of the handwritten letters. There was a correlation between defects present on some of the machine printed letters and defects present on sample print pages from the questioned printer. This correlation served to identify the suspect printer as having produced some version of the machine printed documents.
RICHARD RAMIREZ (THE NIGHTSTALKER) - BEFORE DNA
Gisele LaVigne, Senior Criminalist, Los Angeles County Sheriffâ€™s Department, Scientific Services Bureau
The year was 1985 and a series of sexual assaults and murders terrified the residents of Los Angeles and Orange counties by an individual called the Nightstalker. The victims included children, adults and the elderly. He spared the lives of some, while others were killed. The satanic symbol, the pentagram, was also observed at some of the crime scenes. Once law enforcement agencies started sharing information about these crimes, it was determined that he had been as far north as San Francisco. The evidence collected and analyzed in hopes of identifying the Nightstalker included biological fluids, shoe prints and firearms evidence. He was ultimately convicted of 13 murders and sentenced to death.
MICHAEL JACKSON DEATH INVESTIGATION
Detective Orlando Martinez, LAPD, Robbery Homicide Division, Robbery Special Section
This presentation will detail the unique circumstances surrounding the death of Michael Jackson, the issues addressed for a successful prosecution and how problems were overcome. This case was unique in the type of toxicology testing performed, the use of outside experts and testing and the cooperation between the California Medical Board, the California Department of Justice and the LAPD.
IMPLEMENTING 3D TECHNOLOGY INTO TRADITIONAL FORENSIC FIREARM EXAMINATIONS
Heather Seubert, Chief, Firearms/Toolmarks Unit, FBI Laboratory
The Firearms/Toolmarks discipline can be traced back to the early days of the 1920â€™s where early pioneers such as J.H Mathews, Calvin Goddard and James Hatcher were exploring â€śforensic ballisticsâ€ť. In these early days of researching, many of their methods showed close parallels to the new technologies that are emerging, relying upon measurements and illumination techniques. And the same question continues to motivate the practitioner to determine whether or not a bullet or cartridge case could be â€śidentifiedâ€ť to a particular firearm. Even before the arrival of the comparison microscope, a match could be determined through the use of a filar micrometer, which was a special device placed at the top of a compound microscope, containing a scale, with a cross hair that moved along the scale. Another method used was the method of interchange, which depended upon an illumination technique and involved a long camera set-up with a short lens.
Now, almost ninety-years later, these very principles of measuring and illumination that highlighted areas on bullets and cartridge cases are being advanced to a level beyond the 2D world. These advancing technologies require the right approach for implementation and almost a strategy map for integration. The Firearms/Toolmarks Unit (FTU) of the FBI Laboratory has been evaluating and validating 3D technologies to enhance an identification conclusion with the desire to establish a qualitative and quantitative threshold which will introduce an objective component to this subjective discipline. Over the past four years, the FTU has acquired many of the advancing technologies available to the forensic science community in an effort to develop methodologies, build collaboration and further the discipline of firearms and toolmarks. The technologies that the FTU has begun evaluating includes the Sensofar Confocal Microscope, the TopMatch Gelsight technology, the Alicona Focus Variation and the EvoFinder. Over the course of this validation journey, the FTU has experienced various challenges.
This presentation will highlight some of those challenges such as gaining acceptance from practicing examiners, fiscal forecasting for support from management, surviving technology hurdles. This presentation will also discuss how to prepare personnel to perform the evaluation and testing of these systems, setting up organized sample databases, preparing samples for testing, maintaining company support, estimating the fiscal projections for the continual maintenance and upgrades, building collaboration, and looking downstream to how the results generated will be articulated in a report of examination. And, finally, how we can prepare for the legal challenges that will accompany the admission of these technologies in a court of law.
PRESENTING BLUE, THE LAFD ARSON K-9
Gus Gaeta, Investigator, Los Angeles Fire Department, Arson Counter Terrorism Section
Arson K-9 handler, Investigator Gus Gaeta, will demonstrate how the accelerant detection K-9, Blue, works at a fire scene. Following a brief explanation of how the arson K-9s are properly trained and calibrated for detection of accelerants, Blue will demonstrate a search for and identification of accelerants, previously set up within the containers and/or props.
RAMONA GARDENS FIRE BOMBING
Robert McLoud, Investigator, Los Angeles Fire Department, Arson Counter Terrorism Division
This presentation will share how the case of the Ramona Gardens Fire Bombing was solved. The uniqueness of this case includes the agencies that were involved, media coverage, the location, a reward offered, items of evidence collected and analyzed, all leading to the suspectsâ€™ capture.
THE BRIAN BANKS STORY
Brian Banks, National Football League, Officiating Department, Football Operations
From a promising young athlete to a convicted felon imprisoned for crimes uncommitted, Brian Banksâ€™ story is one of exasperating hardship, inspiring resiliency and redemption.
A high school football star with his sights set on the NFL, Banks was on his way to accept a full-ride scholarship offer from USC until his dreams were thwarted when he was falsely accused and subsequently convicted of kidnapping and raping a classmate. As a result, Banks served more than five years in prison and another five monitored as a registered sex offender. In 2011, his accuser was recorded admitting to fabricating the charges and with the help of the California Innocence Project, Banks successfully cleared his name, regained his reputation and earned tryouts with several NFL football teams.
Due to his time off the field, his career as a player was short lived, but his career in football was just beginningâ€”Banks was hired by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and works in the leagueâ€™s operations department.
Now a prominent activist against wrongful convictions, he has assisted in the exoneration of two wrongfully convicted men and travels to schools, organizations and events across the country to share his story, offer lessons heâ€™s learned and advocate for justice for all.
Featured on leading media outlets, including CNN, 60 Minutes and CBS Nation Morning News, Banksâ€™ story also caught the attention of Hollywood, and A-list producer, Amy Baer and award-winning director, Lee Daniels are at the helm of a feature film about Banksâ€™ life.
Motivated by his powerful motto, Success Is My Revenge, Banks offers deeply personal perspective on redemption, overcoming unimaginable challenges, maintaining a positive outlook and reclaiming oneâ€™s path in life.
CONFESSION EVIDENCE AND ITâ€™S RELATIONSHIP TO THE FORENSIC EXAMINATION
Dan Simon, Richard L. and Maria B. Crutcher Professor of Law & Psychology, USC Gould School of Law and Dept. of Psychology
In some criminal investigations, forensic examiners have been privy to the fact that the suspect had already confessed to the crime. This talk will discuss various aspects relating to such exposure. First, we examine the risk that the exposure to confession evidence might influence the forensic examination. Second, we examine how methods of interrogation bring suspects to confess. In particular, we will discuss the diagnostic potential of the interrogation methods to distinguish between true and false confessions.
PERFORMANCE VERIFICATION OF THE CRIME-LITE 82S IR AND CAMERA
Emily Drake BS, Student, California State University, Los Angeles, School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, Criminalistics Masterâ€™s Program
The Crime-lite 82S IR (Foster and Freeman) alternate light source emits infrared light. When combined with an infrared sensitive camera and tablet, the light source may be used to detect and visualize bloodstains on dark surfaces or surfaces that render bloodstains near invisible to the unaided eye. Infrared illumination enhances the contrast between bloodstains and the surface of deposition in circumstances where the background reflects IR light. Under these conditions, background â€śdrop outâ€ť causes the surface to appear lighter whereas the bloodstain, which absorbs IR light, appears darker.
For the performance verification study, neat porcine blood was deposited on various porous and non-porous substrates in the form of four different stain types: a drop, smear, contact, or fine spatter. These experiments were also replicated using a diluted blood series (1:2, 1:4, 1:8, 1:16, and 1:32) that was applied to the substrates in the form of a drop stain. This verification involved a comparison of the observations when viewing with the unaided eye under standard visible light versus real-time visualization under IR illumination. The images formed when blood was exposed to IR illumination were captured when the stains were initially deposited and after the stains had dried. The images formed when blood was exposed to visible light were captured using a digital camera once the bloodstains had dried.
The results show that the Crime-lite 82S IR and accessories can aid in the detection and visualization latent blood when there is poor contrast between the bloodstain and the background surface on which it is deposited. In particular, porous substrates performed best when visualizing bloodstains under IR illumination. Although the results of the verification showed that some surfaces fail to â€śdrop outâ€ť when exposed to IR illumination, the authors recommend the use of the Crime-lite 82S IR as a search tool to examine surfaces that tend to be difficult to visualize blood.
NORTH HOLLYWOOD SHOOTOUT
Doreen M. Hudson, Commanding Officer, LAPD, Forensic Science Division
In 1997, the Los Angeles Police Department Crime Lab was under-prepared for the magnitude of a marathon crime scene spread out over a one-square mile perimeter involving multiple casualties, massive media coverage and fear of booby trap devices. Sound familiar? Nevertheless, with strong leadership, empowerment, continual communication and strategic support, the seven teams executed a near flawless crime scene investigation. The external stressors of personal safety, media attention, demand for answers and fatigue were overcome by decisive organization, leadership within teams, well defined roles and crime scene basics. This was the LAPD Crime Labâ€™s ground zero for developing a stronger and better plan for managing mass casualty, large scale and complex crime scenes in the years that followed.
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF FORENSIC SCIENCE: LETTING GO OF INDIVIDUALIZATION
Keith Inman & Norah Rudin, CSUEB, Forensic DNA Consulting
As the new millennium dawned, we proposed our forensic science paradigm, published both in our book, Principles and Practice of Criminalistics, The Profession of Forensic Science, and also in our paper, The Origin of Evidence. Our work was evolved from by Paul Kirkâ€™s 1963 landmark paper, The Ontogeny of Criminalistics, in which he infamously defined forensic science as the â€śscience of individualization.â€ť In this work, he spoke of the requirement to apply statistical methods to quantitate the weight of evidence, but this idea got lost in the oversimplification and easy branding of the profession as that of â€śindividualization.â€ť In our paradigm, we followed Kirk and included â€śindividualizationâ€ť as a fundamental principle.
Although we also discussed the idea that individualization could never be achieved through quantitative means and essentially constituted a â€śleap of faithâ€ť (Stoney, 1991), we nonetheless perpetuated the concept. Over the years, we have become convinced that this idea of â€śindividualizationâ€ť does not serve forensic science well. It has been perhaps, a main, if not the main, factor in holding back forensic science from developing and maturing appropriately as a true and complete scientific discipline. In Criminalistics, we mark an adolescent phase of forensic science; it has not matured as it should have since that time, at least, and perhaps in large part, because of its allegiance to the false idol of individualization. It has become unequivocally evident to us that, for forensic science to survive as a credible science, we must dispense with the idea that forensic scientists are somehow special and can make pronouncements of individualization based in part, and sometimes solely, on human subjective judgment. While the legal system ultimately must make an absolute binary decision (guilty or not guilty), science axiomatically traffics in estimating uncertainty. We can no longer subvert science to the pressures of the legal system, which is ultimately better served by good science and good scientific practices. While human subjectivity can never completely be removed from the equation (in forensic science, any other science, or in life), quantitative, or at least probabilistic approaches would go far to increase our stock in the scientific community, and to provide a solid, rational basis for conclusions. DNA has finally, belatedly, begun the process of instituting probabilistic weighting of evidence; for other disciplines to ultimately survive in the long-term, they must follow suit. Thinking about these issues has inspired us to formally reissue our forensic science paradigm, replacing â€śindividualizationâ€ť with the probabilistically inspired â€śprobability of the evidenceâ€ť which can support an â€śinference of source.â€ť
Please refer to this diagram:
SEX CRIMES IN SAN DIEGO, WHY BELIEVE THE VICTIM?
Detective Frank Bradley, San Diego Police Department, Sex Crimes Unit
Makeup of San Diego Police Department Sex Crimes Units: Sex Crimes, Child Abuse, 290 Unit, ICAC. Martha case - is the victim lying? SART Kit vs. Mouth Swab kit. How does it affect court testimony? Julie case.
SPOTLIGHT ON HISTORIC HOLLYWOOD CRIME: THE CAPITOL RECORDS CARPOOL KILLING
Kim Cooper, Los Angeles Crime Historian
Join Kim Cooper, Los Angeles crime historian and mystery novelist (Esotouric bus adventures, The Kept Girl), as she presents a fascinating and little known 1959 murder case that began when two Capitol Records co-workers decided to carpool from the deep San Fernando Valley into Hollywood. The unhealthy obsession that developed during those daily drives would lead to murder and a shocking accusation.
In this compelling presentation, illustrated with vintage photographs, we will explore the murder of Ronald Caruana, the strange aftermath, and the important role played by pioneering LAPD forensic scientist Ray Pinker in determining in which county the crime took place.
Erol Ergun, Criminalist, LAPD, Forensic Science Division, Serology/DNA Unit
A young female victim is taken from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Her parents wake up to find their daughter missing. After several hours, the victim is released alone at local coffee shop. Her love of detective shows and attention to detail led to her captorâ€™s arrest.
DIRECTIVES AND RECOMMENDATIONS: THE LATEST FROM THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON FORENSIC SCIENCE
Dean M. Gialamas, Division Director, Los Angeles County Sheriffâ€™s Department
The National Commission on Forensic Science was created in February 2013. This unique partnership between the US Department of Justice (US-DOJ) and the US Department of Commerce National Institutes for Standards and Technology (NIST) formed a new era in oversight of the forensic sciences. Since the first meeting in February 2014, there have been many issues raised and discussed along with several directives and recommendations that the Commission presented to the US Attorney General. This presentation will review the current status of the Commission dealings with a discussion on how this has and will continue to impact laboratories as well as the bench-level criminalist.
HAVING THE DISCUSSION
John Houde, Criminalist (ret.), Ventura County Sheriffâ€™s Crime Laboratory, Controlled Substances, Fire Debris, Microscopy and Conventional Serology Units
Let us have a discussion about death scenes -- that first one and all the ones following. Exposure to scenes of violent death by crime lab workers can result in lifelong emotional scars. Offered, are some techniques to prepare oneself for entry into the career and to hopefully lessen the impact. Anecdotes from experienced criminalists are used to define the potential problems and to illustrate helpful strategies for coping with the stresses of the job.
This presentation is adapted from, Are You Mentally Prepared for a Career in Forensic Science?, which was given by the author to incoming forensic science students at Penn State Univ., and inspired by the various essays in the CACNews, 4th Q, 2015.
THE LILY BURK MURDER CASE
Detective Albert Marengo, LAPD, Central Homicide Bureau
On July 24, 2009, at approximately 0600 hours, Lily Burk was found murdered in her automobile in a parking lot of a closed business at 5th Street and Alameda in downtown Los Angeles. No witnesses to the murder were located by the police. The ensuing investigation involved a multi-agency joint effort. The LAPD and LASO Crime Labs played a major role in solving the case in less than 24 hours.
WHY BE ETHICAL?
Jeff Thompson, Criminalistics Laboratory Director, LAPD, Forensic Science Division
Why should a criminalist (or anyone else) behave ethically? While this may seem obvious, this presentation will attempt to present a fresh look at legal and scientific ethics, especially where the two fields overlap â€“ forensic science. No one starts off planning to be unethical (with some unfortunate exceptions), but there are situations that can challenge anyoneâ€™s sense of what is right and wrong and how to properly act. In addition to real world examples to illustrate potential traps, a more global view will be included. By presenting the latter view, attendees will be provided a perspective to assist them in better assessing the limitations of methods and people, and more effectively recognize when the potential for an ethical lapse is present.
WELBY WAY INCIDENT
Sergeant II Michael W. Odle, LAPD, Training Division, Firearms and Tactics
The presentation will provide insight into the rescue operation from Sergeant Odleâ€™s personal perspective as an entry team member.
MICROSCOPICAL EVALUATION OF CATAGEN AND TELOGEN HUMAN HAIRS FOR NDNA ANALYSIS
Faye Springer and Deven Johnson, Sacramento County Laboratory of Forensic Services
Hairs in the catagen and telogen growth phase were evaluated for the likelihood of obtaining nDNA results based on their traditional microscopical appearance and the presence of nuclei following nuclear staining. Transmitted light microscopy, stereo microscopy, polarized light microscopy, and nuclear staining followed by evaluation using transmitted light microscopy were used in the effort. These microscopical results were correlated to the number of detected loci using an EZ1 robot nDNA extraction protocol, nDNA quantitation using Quantifiler Duo kit, and amplification with the AmpF/STR Identifier Plus Kit. An objective criteria was established in determining which catagen and telogen hair roots would be used for nDNA analysis.
PROXIMAL END ROOT MORPHOLOGY CHARACTERISTICS IN ANTEMORTEM ANAGEN HEAD HAIRS
Dr. Katherine A. Roberts, Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, Criminalistics Masterâ€™s Program
The proximal end morphology of antemortem anagen head hair was compared with the characteristics documented to occur in postmortem hairs. Antemortem anagen and telogen head hairs (N=967) were recovered following exposure to seven environments. Root morphology characteristics consistent with those reported in postmortem hairs were observed in 66 (14%) hairs exposed to a water, normal saline, outdoor soil, or indoor shower environment. Thirty-three anagen hairs (7%) exhibited a root band at the proximal end. The mean distance from the root tip to the onset of the root band ranged from 0.23 to 0.7mm, depending on the environment. The mean distance from the root tip to the onset of the root band was 0.46mm, with a mean band length of 0.44mm.
Based on the existing reported literature, trained hair examiners must rely on experience and on approximate values to classify root banding in postmortem subjects. However, the results of the study presented here illustrate the need to better characterize postmortem banding through quantitative measurements, including the range for root tip to band distance and the overall band length. Additionally, studies should investigate the underlying cause(s) contributing to the morphological changes observed in decomposing antemortem anagen head hair exposed to different environments.
Additional projects are being investigated and developed by the authors. The findings in this paper should not be taken to suggest that little could be learned from the recognition of possible postmortem root banding in evidence hairs in casework, even given the current state of knowledge. We have shown that banding patterns that might be confused with those resulting from decomposition taking place within the follicle can result from extra follicular decomposition in other environments. However, it is important to note that this only occurs under a very limited number of experimental conditions. Anytime that possible postmortem banding is recognized in evidence hairs, it is imperative that the case context be taken into account in any interpretation offered.
DETECTION OF BULLET V NON-BULLET DAMAGE TO TEXTILE FABRICS
Gregory Hogrebe, Student, California State University, Los Angeles, School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, Criminalistics Masterâ€™s Program
This study investigates a methodology to distinguish the damage to textile fabrics that is attributed to the penetration of a bullet or shotgun slug as opposed to the effects of wear, cutting, tearing, and stabbing-related damage. Textile fabrics comprised of 100% natural fibers, 100% synthetic fibers, and a blend of both natural and synthetic fibers were selected as the target material. Initially, each source of fabric material was subjected to the various forms of damage individually. In addition, the materials were combined by layering each fabric to form a stack, and the damage was repeated. Three different types of ammunition were selected to generate the firearms-related damage: a copper-jacketed bullet (American Eagle 9mm Luger and 45 Auto caliber), a hollow point bullet (Remington 9mm Luger) and a shotgun slug (Winchester Super-X 12 Gauge). Each bullet was fired in triplicate with a muzzle-to-target distance for each of the textile fabrics of 6 feet for the handgun rounds and 30 feet for the shotgun rounds. The firearms-related fabrics were initially examined and photographed using infrared photography, followed by chemical testing with both DTO and sodium rhodizonate. In addition, fibers were recovered from the damaged area for all of the textile fabrics and the morphology was examined with polarized light microscopy. This poster presentation will report and discuss the results of our research findings.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS CASE STUDY
Lisa Schliebe, Criminalist, LAPD, Forensic Science Division, Serology/DNA Unit; Nancy Nelson, Detective (Ret.), LAPD, Robbery Homicide Division, Sex Crimes Unit; Jane Creighton, Deputy DA, Los Angeles County D.A.s Office, Sex Crimes Division
In November of 1994, one day apart, two young girls were brutally attacked and sexually assaulted on their way to school. Each girl had a sexual assault kit taken and they were able to give a description of their attacker. Two suspects were initially identified. DNA testing proved inconclusive and the case went cold. In 2012, a new request was submitted to re-examine clothing for possible sperm for one of the victims. At first, it seemed the evidence had been destroyed, but following a lucky turn of events, there was evidence to examine and an unknown male profile was obtained. A CODIS hit led investigators to the correct suspect, exonerating the two original suspects. The DDAâ€™s office now had the difficult task of finding a charge, within the statute of limitations, that would lead to prison time and sex offender registry of the suspect.
This presentation will show how science and the law were able to work together. By thinking outside of the box, the detective, the crime lab, and the DDAâ€™s office were able to bring justice not only to the victims in this case, but to the original suspects that were wrongly accused.