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An Introduction to Forensic Science. Forensic Science I South Pointe High School. Course Topics & Perspective. Forensic science is the application of scientific knowledge to questions of civil and criminal law.

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an introduction to forensic science

An Introduction to Forensic Science

Forensic Science I

South Pointe High School

course topics perspective
Course Topics & Perspective
  • Forensic science is the application of scientific knowledge to questions of civil and criminal law.
  • This course is a lab-based, hands-on course that will explore what forensic scientists do. You will learn modern forensic methods and use scientific methods to solve legal problems.
course topics perspective3
Course Topics & Perspective
  • Course focus is on the collection and analysis of crime scene evidence (such as serology, toxicology, entomology, odontology and trace evidence), and the
  • Exploration of lab analysis techniques, (such as chromatography, DNA analysis, fingerprinting, and hair and footprint analysis).
course topics perspective4
Course Topics & Perspective
  • Forensic scientists are also required to testify in court about their analysis of evidence.
  • To make a convincing case, you need to be able to clearly and concisely explain your results and their significance in lab reports.
  • Finally, mock crime scenes will be investigated and real case studies analyzed.
interdisciplinary relationships
Interdisciplinary Relationships
  • Forensics is a diverse field, and rarely are forensic scientists “generalists” – people who specialize in all aspects of forensic science. Forget what you see on CSI.
  • Forensic scientists don’t wear pumps to a crime scene, they rarely interview suspects or make arrests, and they are not experts in all areas of forensic investigations. Rather, forensic experts usually specialize in one or two branches of forensic investigation.
interdisciplinary relationships6
Interdisciplinary Relationships
  • A botanist may be an expert in forensic botany. An entomologist may be an expert in forensic entomology. Chemists may specialize in forensic toxicology or arson and bomb analysis. People with expertise in physics may focus on firearms and ballistics or blood spatter analysis.
interdisciplinary relationships7
Interdisciplinary Relationships
  • It would be impossible to survey all areas of forensic science in a semester long high school course.
  • Rather, we will explore a range of fields, topics and methodologies to give you a sense of the diverse fields of study in forensics.
interdisciplinary relationships8
Interdisciplinary Relationships
  • Nevertheless, forensic science is an applied scientific discipline, and your success in this course will require you to apply your basic understanding of physics, chemistry, biology and even math to explore the range of topics surveyed.
forensic science defined
Forensic Science Defined:
  • Forensic Science (or Criminalistics) is the use of science & technology to enforce civil & criminal laws.
  • It is somewhat hard to pin down exactly what a forensic scientists does because it includes so many other areas of science.
why do we look to science for assistance in our legal system
Why do we look to science for assistance in our legal system?
  • Increasing Crime Rates
  • New or Changed Laws
  • New Crimes
  • New Weapons (*see next slide)
  • Response to Public Concerns
  • Response to Law Enforcement Concerns
applying science to law
Applying Science to Law
  • Applying science to the Criminal Justice System depends on a scientist’s ability to supply accurate & objective information that reflects the events that have occurred at a crime.
when in rome
When in Rome…
  • “Forensic” comes from the Latin word “forensis” meaning forum.
  • During the time of the Romans, a criminal charge meant presenting the case before the public.
  • Both the person accused of the crime & the accuser would give speeches based on their side of the story.
  • The individual with the best argument would determine the outcome of the case.
sir arthur conan doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Mystery author in late 1800’s
  • Popularized scientific crime-detection methods through his fictional character ‘Sherlock Holmes’.
mathieu orfila 1787 1853
Mathieu Orfila(1787-1853)
  • “Father of Toxicology”
  • Wrote about the detection of poisons & their effects on animals.
alphonse bertillon 1853 1914
Alphonse Bertillon(1853-1914)
  • “Father of Anthropometry”
  • Developed a system to distinguish one individual person from another based on certain body measurements.
francis galton 1822 1911
Francis Galton(1822-1911)
  • “Father of Fingerprinting”
  • Developed fingerprinting as a way to uniquely identify individuals.
leone lattes 1887 1954
Leone Lattes(1887-1954)
  • “Father of Bloodstain Identification”
  • He developed a procedure for determining the blood type (A, B, AB, or O) of a dried blood stain.
calvin goddard 1891 1955
Calvin Goddard(1891-1955)
  • “Father of Ballistics”
  • Developed the technique to examine bullets, using a comparison microscope, to determine whether or not a particular gun fired the bullets.
albert osborn 1858 1946
Albert Osborn(1858-1946)
  • “Father of Document Examination”
  • His work led to the acceptance of documents as scientific evidence by the courts.
walter mccrone 1916 2002
Walter McCrone(1916-2002)
  • “Father of Microscopic Forensics”
  • He developed & applied his microscope techniques to examine evidence in countless court cases.
hans gross 1847 1915
Hans Gross(1847-1915)
  • “Father of Forensic Publications”
  • Wrote the book on applying all the different science disciplines to the field of criminal investigation.
edmond locard 1877 1966
Edmond Locard(1877-1966)
  • “Father of the Crime Lab”
  • In 1910, he started the 1st crime lab in an attic of a police station in Paris, France.
  • With few tools, he quickly became known world-wide to forensic scientists & criminal investigators & eventually founded the Institute of Criminalistics in France.
  • His most important contribution was the “Locard’sExchangePrinciple”
locard s exchange principle
Locard’s Exchange Principle
  • “Every Contact Leaves a Trace.”
  • He believed that every criminal can be connected to a crime by particles carried from the crime scene.
  • When a criminal comes in contact with an object or person, a cross-transfer of evidence occurs.
j edgar hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
  • “Father of the FBI” - Director of Federal Bureau of Investigation during the 1930’s
  • Hoover's leadership spanned 48 yrs & 8 presidential administrations. His reign covered Prohibition, the Great Depression, WWII, the Korean War, the Cold War, & the Vietnam War.
  • He organized a national laboratory to offer forensic services to all law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
  • VERY CONTROVERSIAL
    • He exceeded & abused his authority with unjustified investigations & illegal wiretaps based on political beliefs rather than suspected criminal activity
    • FBI directors are now limited to 10-year terms
applications of forensic science
Applications of Forensic Science
  • Identification of Criminals or Victims
  • Solving Mysteries
    • Past crimes (unsolved or wrongfully convicted)
    • Cause, Location, Time of Death
    • Paternity cases
  • Cyber crimes
  • Corporate Crimes (Enron)
  • Voice Analysis
applications of forensic science31
Applications of Forensic Science
  • Application of DNA as evidence
  • Prevention vs. Reaction
  • Catastrophes & Wars
      • ID remains of victims (either civilian or soldiers)
      • ex. Holocaust or Katrina
  • Military & International Forensics
    • Terrorism
    • The search for WMD’s
    • stockpiled or stored weapons from past wars
slide32
When the Army unearthed more than a 1,000 mortar rounds from a WW2 training site, they enlisted a Forensic Science Lab to determine which were live munitions & which were dummies.

Munitions

the trial of the century
The Trial of the Century
  • O.J. Simpsonwas a NFL football legend.
  • He is now famous for having been tried for the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson & her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994.
  • He was acquitted in criminal court after a lengthy, highly publicized trial.
what went wrong
What went wrong?
  • 1st on the scene, police found evidence of blood & entered the Simpson home without a search warrant, an action permissible b/c the situation was an emergency.
  • HOWEVER, the police collected a pair of blood-stained gloves during their search.
  • Collection of evidence without proper warrants became the key argument used by Simpson’s legal team & ultimately led to his acquittal.
what was learned
What was learned?
  • If forensic evidence is to be admissible in court, the highest professional standards must be used at the crime scene!
  • He was found liable for their deaths in civil court, but has yet to pay the $33.5 million judgment.
the wonderful weirdness of forensic science the body farm
The Wonderful Weirdness of Forensic Science:The Body Farm
  • Primary Goal: To understand the processes & timetable of postmortem decay, primarily to improve determining the "timesincedeath" in murder cases.
  • The Body Farm is a simulation of various crime scenes using real human bodies.
  • Started in 1970’s by Dr Bill Bass to study Forensic Anthropology (the study of human decomposition after death).
the body farm
The Body Farm
  • Used by Law Enforcement, Medical Examiners, Entomologists, Cadaver Dogs, Anthropologists & FBI for Crime Scene Training.
  • The BF uses unclaimed cadavers & volunteers (who donate their body to science after death)
  • Only 2 Facilities in the U.S.
    • Univ. of Tennessee (original)
    • Western Carolina University
slide38

A Virtual Tour of

the Body Farm

slide39
Doorway to death, the main gate of the Anthropology Research Facility—the “Body Farm”—consists of a wooden privacy fence inside a chain-link fence topped with razor wire.
slide40
Security is a high priority. Fences, padlocks, video surveillance cameras, & police patrols safeguard the world’s only human-decomposition research facility.
slide41
One research study examined the effects of the elevated temperatures—and limited insect access—to which a body in a car would be subjected.
slide42
Corpse 1-81 was an elderly white male; he became part of a pioneering study of insect activity in human corpses.
slide43
Close-up of a recent research subject. After only a few weeks in the Tennessee summer, the skull is completely bare & many vertebrae are exposed. The rib cage & pelvis are covered with dried, leathery skin, but the soft tissues beneath are gone, consumed by insects & bacteria.
slide44
Close-up of a human femur & hip bone, containing an artificial hip implant. Such orthopedic devices can help identify an unknown crime victim.
slide45
An aerial view of the Body Farm. Large wooden tripods are used for hoisting & weighing bodies as part of a research study of weight loss during decomposition.
key question time since death
Key Question: Time Since Death?

How does the decomposition rate compare in:

  • sunshine vs shade?
  • In cool weather vs hot weather?
  • In a shallow grave vs on the ground?
  • In water?
  • Inside a car?
  • What effect do other variables have—humidity, insect activity, clothing, body weight, & so on?
why is tsd so important
Why is TSD so important?
  • 1st question at most murder scenes: "How long has this person been dead?“
    • TSD: Time Since Death
  • It's crucial to know when the crime was committed.
    • it can help narrow the search for a suspect or
    • it can help rule out potential suspects who had alibis at the time the victim was killed.