The main purpose of crime scene reconstruction is to obtain enough information of particular events that lead to commission of a crime using physical evidence, deductive and inductive reasoning, physical evidence, scientific methods, and their interrelationships.
1.1 Limitations of Crime Scene Reconstruction
The process of crime scene reconstruction has a few limitations that might lead to misinterpretation of facts if there are not properly accounted for. The evidence found following the occurrence of a crime is the indication of everything that has transpired over the course of time during which the crime occurred. Therefore, this evidence is exposed to the risk of misinterpretation due to limitations such as evidence dynamics and generalizing.
Evidence dynamics are uncontrollable factors that distort the available physical evidence by adding, changing, contaminating, relocating or even destroying it. This limitation makes the crime scene a dynamic location, meaning it is constantly subjected to change. Hence, it does not remain intact after the crime has occurred. Evidence dynamics are beyond the control of crime scene reconstruction experts because they are in operation before the crime occurs and also during the interval that exists as the physical evidence is being transferred or created from the crime scene. Therefore, it has been established that this limitation gradually and constantly affects the physical evidence until it is completely destroyed. Consequently, failure to put evidence dynamics into consideration during crime reconstruction process increases the risk of potential misinterpretation of the physical evidence leading to inaccurate or incomplete interpretations. Experts must make efforts to ensure that their account for evidence dynamics in their interpretations. Accounting for this limitation would involve establishing the influence it has had on the physical evidence or crime scene since the occurrence of the crime. This means that the experts must establish the intensity and period of time each factor has been in operation. To ensure that the risks provided by this limitation are reduced by a larger magnitude or their effects on the final findings of the process are consequently reduced, the experts must be in a position to establish how these evidence dynamics which were in operation before the crime occurred could have facilitated the crime negatively or positively. Therefore, crime scene reconstruction should only be conducted by experts who possess the adequate knowledge, examination and analytical skills and trained to derive accurately the meaning of physical evidence in accordance with the established principles. This experts must be in a position to explain the origin, meaning and impact of all physical evidence before a reasonable party or a court of law.
The other commonly experienced limitation in crime scene reconstruction is Generalizing of Facts. Experts experience this limitation due to the strict principles that ought to govern this process. Crime scene reconstruction is usually an organized, logical process that strives at arriving to scientifically supported outcome of the events surrounding the creation of a certain crime scene. This process is done methodologically as it is like filling a jigsaw puzzle. The experts are required to analyze logically and examine the sequence of events leading to the occurrence of the crime so as to come up with proper conclusions. This entails picking pieces of evidence and applying proper judgment based on the established principles to bring out what had transpired before, during and after the occurrence of the crime. To avoid generalization hence misinterpretation of events, the experts must strive to apply logical and well-founded reasoning that is free from all forms of bias. The use of correct reasoning processes, writes OHara and O Hara (1988), must be learned by conscious application, and constant vigilance against the pitfalls of false premises, logical fallacies, unjustifiable inferences, ignorance of conceivable alternatives and failure to distinguish between the factual and the probable. (p.20)
Therefore, to ensure that the risks provided by the generalization of facts are minimized, crime scene reconstruction ought to employ both deductive and inductive reasoning while trying to answer questions regarding the commission of a certain crime. Deductive reasoning moves from the general to the specific while inductive reasoning moves from specific to the general. Both might lead the experts to statements of probability rather than certainty hence proper reasoning and logic must be applied. Precise evidence accompanied by application of proper logic leads to precise conclusions.
Therefore, to reduce the risks of the aforementioned limitations, experts must employ critical study of evidence through substantive research and proper understanding of the underlying physical, physiological and psychological phenomena.
1.2 Estimations of distance from the shooter to target based on descriptions of the bullet holes.
1. A few widely scattered gunpowder particles with no soot around the entrance hole.
The scattered specks of unburned and partially burned gun powder particles without any accompanying soot are normally observed at distances of 25 inches from the target. Occasionally, widely spread gun powder particles can be noted at a firing distance of up to 36 inches. With ball powder ammunition, the distance can go up to 6-8 feet.
2. A dark ring around the bullet hole but no soot or gunpowder particles.
This occurs for weapons fired from more than 3 feet as they dont leave any powder deposits on the target surface.
3. A halo of soot surrounding the entrance hole along with scattered specks of powder grains.
This one indicates a distance of 12-18 inches or less from the target. The scattered specks of powder without any accompanying soot are normally observed at distances of 25 inches from the target.
4. Scorch marks and melted fibers surrounding the entrance holes.
Occurs in cases where the weapon is held in contact or less than 1 inch from the target.
However, distance determination depends on the circumstances of the case. The examiner must have knowledge of the weapon and type of ammunition used.
(2015, September 19th). Retrieved from Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction: http://www.acsr.org
Chisum, W. a. (2007). Burlington,MA:Academic Press. Crime reconstruction.
Chisum, W. T. (2007). Crime reconstruction. Burlington,MA: Academic Press.
O"Hara, C. .. (1988). Fundamentals of criminal investigation.Rev.5th ed. Springfield,IL: Charles C. Thomas.
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