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Forensic Science & Law

Nathaniel Brown

on 20 March 2013

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Transcript of Bloodspatter

Blood Spatter Factor 4: Standard Protocols The analysis of blood at the scene of a crime starts with the separation of bloodspatter and transfer. Bloodstain patterns
can be used to... What information can be obtained? Formation of a Bloodstain Ellipse The examination of the shapes, locations,
and distribution of patterns of bloodstains,
in order to provide and interpretation of the
physical events that gave rise to their origin. Direction versus Angle of Impact Distances, direction, travel, speed, impact angles, objects, forces, as regarding the blood source and the target where the blood finally rested. Factor 1: Empirical Testing Considered defense counsel’s failure to investigate and present expert testimony on blood spatter evidence where the central dispute in that case was Klein’s location when he was shot and, by extension, the credibility of the key participants (964).
The Ninth Circuit found that defense counsel’s performance was deficient and that the deficient performance prejudiced the defendant. What is Bloodspatter Analysis? Vetting of testimony
Confirming accounts given by principals
Develop evidence into a story of the incident. Low Velocity/Passive Impact Spatter Medium Velocity Impact Spatter High Velocity Impact Spatter Direction Angle of Impact Blood Flight Characteristics Blood will not break up unless it is acted upon by force and the force must be great enough to overcome the surface tension of the blood. Factor 2: Peer Review The Strickland Test 1. Counsel’s performance was deficient, and
2. the deficient performance prejudiced the defendant. Placeholder Factor 3: Error Rate Richter v. Hickman
578 F.3d 944 (9th Cir. 2009) Deficient Performance - Defense counsel’s failure to consult any forensic expert constituted a “threefold abrogation” of his duty under Strickland:
1) Inadequate investigation prior to settling on a defense strategy,
2) failure to conduct the necessary investigation before trial on the type of forensic evidence available to support his chosen defense theory, and
3) failure to consult experts who could assist during trial when the State, foreseeably, introduced damaging expert testimony regarding the blood evidence in the case (954). FIN Questions? Blood Spatter & Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Richter v. Hickman
578 F.3d 944 (9th Cir. 2009) Prejudice Established -
Although the failure to consult any forensic expert with respect to blood evidence constituted deficient performance, the primary source of prejudice lay more narrowly in counsel’s failure to consult and call on an expert in blood spatter (963).
The pool of blood in the bedroom doorway was the “linchpin of the defense” and, accordingly, “had defense counsel been able to raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors as to whether Klein was a source, in any part, of the pool of blood, there was more than a reasonable chance that ‘the result of the proceeding would have been different’” (963). Harrington v. Richter
131 U.S. 770 (2011) Reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Richter v. Hickman.
Because Richter v. Hickman arrived at the Ninth Circuit via § 2254(d) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), the Ninth Circuit was required to pay deference to the state court adjudicating the ineffective assistance claim later presented in the federal habeas petition.
The Supreme Court found that the Ninth Circuit had an improper understanding of § 2254(d)(1)’s unreasonableness standard and of its operation within the context of a Strickland claim. Therefore, the Ninth Circuit’s decision that the CA Supreme Court unreasonably applied the holding in Strickland to Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim was clear error (785). Harrington v. Richter
131 U.S. 770 (2011) In light of the record, there was no basis for the Ninth Circuit to rule
that the CA Supreme Court’s determination was unreasonable.
Performance Not Deficient -
Expert testimony on blood spatter could be more harmful to Defendant, or transformed the case into battle of experts (790).
Strickland does not require defense to produce an equal and opposite expert for every prosecution expert – cross-examination of prosecution’s experts sufficient (791).
Prejudice Not Established -
Defendant offered no evidence directly challenging conclusions reached by the prosecution’s experts (792).
There was sufficient conventional circumstantial evidence pointing to Defendant’s guilt (792). Duyst v. Rapelje
483 Fed.Appx. 36 (6th Cir. 2012) Issue: whether defense counsel failed to adequately confront the
State’s blood spatter evidence.
1) Defense expert sufficiently qualified to testify about blood spatter; and was also appropriate for expert to only view photos of clothing, bedding, and autopsy without seeing the actual evidence (47-48).
2) Defense counsel acted reasonably in not admitting results of experiment demonstrating absence of high velocity impact blood spatter on a shooter’s hands or clothing, given that experiment’s limited probative value (49).
3) Although defense counsel failed to verify the credentials of the State’s expert blood spatter witness, the trial record nevertheless reveals “a prepared advocate who adequately cross-examined [the State’s witness] on the substantive portions of his testimony” (49). Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Spatter versus Transfer Factor 5: General Acceptance in Scientific Community Daubert Application Richter v. Hickman
578 F.3d 944 (9th Cir. 2009) Is the technique testable or falsifiable?
Blood spatter analysis vs. crime scene reconstruction
What experts testify to vs. what blood can tell us Has the technique been subjected to peer review or publication?

“Flight Characteristics of Human Blood and Stain Patterns” - MacDonell 1971
After first case using blood spatter - Ohio v. Sheppard (1955)
Multiple studies in Journal of Forensic Science
Physicists getting involved also What is the known or potential error rate?Current techniques use computer modeling- analysis in 2010 of technique by physicists states software doesn’t take in to account air drag/gravity. New technique No error rate (0%), like fingerprints, but no double blind studies supporting this. Methodological error vs. Practitioner error Do uniform standards and protocol exist?
Training (SWGSTAIN)- Amount and type are recommendation only
No national accreditation available to agencies
Individual agency protocols, see OSP
No national standard protocol at this time. See aggregate of other factors
Is this a “technical” discipline? Kumho Tire
Accepted among courts? Forensic Scientists? Physicists? Bloodspatter Scientific Review
Full transcript