homicide n.
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  1. Homicide

  2. Murder • Can be met with fear, curiosity, or fascination • Many people cannot comprehend the motivation necessary to take another life • Mainstream media has distorted the reality of murder and aggrandized the killers themselves

  3. Murder • Can cause immobilizing fear in a community • Example: Beltway snipers Washington DCAn incident of multiple murders in a community can have a similar effect as a terrorist act. (Boston Marathon – Yesterday!) • {Give some examples of the detrimental impact that murder can have on a community.}

  4. Definitions • Homicide: the killing of one human being by another. • Some statutes define homicide as: an action by one person that as a direct result leads to the death of another person. • Not all homicides are criminal they can be justifiable or excusable.

  5. Justifiable Homicide • This is the intentional but lawful killing of another. • {Give some examples of justifiable homicide.}

  6. Examples • State or federal death penalty being carried out. • Police officer killing an armed criminal who the officer reasonably feels will harm the officer or others. • An individual who is being threatened with a weapon subsequently kills the other person in defense of self or family. • {In the last example what would happen if the weapon turns out to be fake or non-operational?}

  7. Excusable Homicide • Involves one person killing another by accident without gross negligence and without intent to injure. • An example of this would be a hunter who honestly mistakes a human being for game. • In the case of excusable homicide what must be established in court?

  8. Suicide • The taking of one’s own life. • Although not currently deemed a crime, suicide is considered a grave public wrong in many jurisdictions. (Police can take a suicidal person into custody for mental health evaluation.) • It is illegal to entice or encourage another to commit suicide.

  9. Criminal Homicide • The unlawful taking of a human life. • There are two variations of criminal homicide; • Murder, and; • Manslaughter.

  10. Murder: the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. Killing a person during the commission of a felony also constitutes murder even if the killing is unintentional. Manslaughter: the unlawful killing of another human being without intent, expressed or implied, to effect death. Criminal Homicide

  11. Corpus Delicti • The collection of basic facts establishing that a crime has been committed and that some person is responsible. • It is imperative in the case of an unlawful homicide that, regardless of classification, the investigator must collect sufficient evidence for each element of the corpus delicti for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction.

  12. Corpus Delicti • The necessary element for unlawful homicide are: • The death was not the result of suicide, natural causes, or accident, thus establishing that it was a homicide (this is the province of the forensic pathologist). • Some person was responsible for the unlawful death (establishing the identity of the person is the province of the investigator, evidence technicians, and criminalist).

  13. Investigative Activities in a Homicide • Record crime scene (photographs, sketches, notes). • Recognize, collect, and preserve all physical evidence. • To facilitate reconstruction of the crime. • To link a suspect to the victim, crime scene, or both. • To identify a substance (poison, narcotic, blood, semen), or other object (bludgeon, gun) in order to locate its source and trace its owner.

  14. Investigative Activities in a Homicide • Identify the victim. • Establish the cause, manner, and time of death. • Ascertain the motive for the crime. • From the way the crime was committed-using evidence at the scene, and trauma inflicted on the victim, develop psychological profile. • From those who had knowledge of the victim’s activities (social, family, business), develop a time line leading up to death. • From documents written by or sent to the victim, diaries, letters, or documents relating to financial or business dealings of the victim.

  15. Investigative Activities in a Homicide • Seek additional information • Interview people to check on the background and activities of the victim; obtain leads from those who knew the deceased; seek a possible informant; consider surveillance in some cases. • Examine records to ascertain business interest of the victim; trace source of murder weapon through manufacturer’s records or firearms registration cards. • Review interdepartmental electronic communications on a daily basis. Scan the police information network for possibly related criminal activity in other jurisdictions. Check on previous arrests to compare modus operandi. • Obtain exemplars from any suspect (or from his or her home, garage, vehicle, etc.) from comparison with similar physical evidence discovered at the crime scene.

  16. Investigative Activities in a Homicide • Question suspects (after administering Miranda warnings if in custody).

  17. Partitioning Responsibilities • Evidence technician • Recording crime scene • Recognizing, collecting, and preserving physical evidence • Criminalist • Recognizing, collecting, and preserving physical evidence for analysis.

  18. Partitioning Responsibilities • Forensic Pathologist • Identifying the victim • Estimating the time of death • Establishing the cause and manner of death • Ascertaining the motive for the crime • Recognizing, collecting, and preserving physical evidence • Forensic Anthropologist • Recognizing, collecting, and preserving physical evidence • Identifying the victim

  19. Partitioning Responsibilities • Detective (investigator) • Recording the crime scene • Recognizing, collecting, and preserving physical evidence • Ascertaining the motive for the crime • Seeking additional information • Questioning suspects • Identifying the victim

  20. Motive • Importance of motive: can develop a suspect pool (not an element of a crime): • Categorizing motive: • Financial gain • Sexual gratification • Apparently sex-connected homicides • Emotional factors • Self-protection • Removal of an inconvenience or impediment • Apparently motiveless crimes • “Thrill” killing

  21. Determining motive • As with the reconstruction of a crime, motive can be ascertained through the three major sources of information • Crime scene • People • Records

  22. Determining motive • Various forms of evidence at the crime scene may aid the investigator in developing a motive. • In some homicides a psychological profile of the offender may help to develop a motive.

  23. Determining motive • People are the most productive source for determining motive. • Friends, family, business acquaintances, etc. are all excellent forms of information in the development of a motive. • Anyone who had more than a passing knowledge of the deceased may potentially have information that can establish a motive.

  24. Determining motive • Records can establish motive through connections such as financial gains. • Paper trails can often develop suspects and establish motive.

  25. Staging • Some homicide scenes can be made to simulate a suicide or accidental death in order to cover up the actual homicide. • Crimes of this nature are often discovered by the investigator due to the “over staging” by the perpetrator.

  26. Methods for Differentiating Staging from Actual Suicide • Care must be exercised when touching or handling the suicide note (or other document) until it has been examined for fingerprints. Any latent print that is developed must be compared with the known prints. • If there is a plastic bag over the head of the deceased it must also be examined for prints. Any print found on the bag that does not belong to the deceased must be evaluated and explained. • Is the substance of the suicide note (or letter) expressed at the literacy level of the deceased? • If the note or letter is handwritten, its authenticity must be established. If typed, was the instrument that created the letter available to the deceased and did the deceased know how to use the instrument? • All medicine containers must be gathered - including those that are empty.

  27. Associative Evidence • Evidence that can link the perpetrator to the crime scene or victim is of two kinds: • Evidence brought to and left (often unintentionally) at the scene. • Evidence taken deliberately or accidentally from the scene.

  28. Interpretation of Wounds • Victim Wounds can help to illustrate what transpired.