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Journal Cover Science & Justice
  [SJR: 1.001]   [H-I: 30]   [394 followers]  Follow
    
   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 1355-0306
   Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3051 journals]
  • Estimating the age of the adult stages of the blow flies Lucilia sericata
           and Calliphora vicina (Diptera: Calliphoridae) by means of the cuticular
           hydrocarbon n-pentacosane
    • Authors: Victoria Bernhardt; Werner Pogoda; Marcel A. Verhoff; Stefan W. Toennes; Jens Amendt
      Pages: 361 - 365
      Abstract: Publication date: September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 5
      Author(s): Victoria Bernhardt, Werner Pogoda, Marcel A. Verhoff, Stefan W. Toennes, Jens Amendt
      Age estimation of insects like blow flies plays an important role in forensic entomology and can answer questions in regard to time of death. So far the focus is on the immature stages of these insects, but recently the adult fly became a target of interest. It has been established that the profile of specific cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) changes in a consistent pattern as adult insects age; thus, their analysis could be a promising tool for the age estimation of adult insects. We investigated the CHC n-pentacosane (nC25) on the legs of the adult blow flies Lucilia sericata and Calliphora vicina with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The flies were kept at room temperature (17°C±2°C) and 12:12 L:D from Day 1 to Day 20 post-emergence. For each of five flies per species, the amount of nC25 on all legs was determined daily. The amounts of nC25 on C. vicina increased linearly (R2 =0.949). No significant difference between sexes could be detected. While L. sericata showed the same linear increase in general, we found significant (p<0.001) differences in the amount of nC25 between males and females. Although the amounts of nC25 increased linearly for both sexes (males: R2 =0.948; females: R2 =0.920), female L. sericata produced more nC25 than males. An equation for the prediction of fly age is constructed from these data. Although the influence of various environmental factors, e.g., fluctuating temperatures, still needs to be tested, nC25 seems to be a promising tool for the age estimation of adult flies.

      PubDate: 2017-09-14T15:11:50Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.04.007
       
  • Three-dimensional analysis of third molar development to estimate age of
           majority
    • Authors: Ana Belén Márquez-Ruiz; María Concepción Treviño-Tijerina; Lucas González-Herrera; Belén Sánchez; Amanda Rocío González-Ramírez; Aurora Valenzuela
      Pages: 376 - 383
      Abstract: Publication date: September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 5
      Author(s): Ana Belén Márquez-Ruiz, María Concepción Treviño-Tijerina, Lucas González-Herrera, Belén Sánchez, Amanda Rocío González-Ramírez, Aurora Valenzuela
      Third molars are one of the few biological markers available for age estimation in undocumented juveniles close the legal age of majority, assuming an age of 18years as the most frequent legal demarcation between child and adult status. To obtain more accurate visualization and evaluation of third molar mineralization patterns from computed tomography images, a new software application, DentaVol©, was developed. Third molar mineralization according to qualitative (Demirjian's maturational stage) and quantitative parameters (third molar volume) of dental development was assessed in multi-slice helical computed tomography images of both maxillary arches displayed by DentaVol© from 135 individuals (62 females and 73 males) aged between 14 and 23years. Intra- and inter-observer agreement values were remarkably high for both evaluation procedures and for all third molars. A linear correlation between third molar mineralization and chronological age was found, with third molar maturity occurring earlier in males than in females. Assessment of dental development with both procedures, by using DentaVol© software, can be considered a good indicator of age of majority (18years or older) in all third molars. Our results indicated that virtual computed tomography imaging can be considered a valid alternative to orthopantomography for evaluations of third molar mineralization, and therefore a complementary tool for determining the age of majority.

      PubDate: 2017-09-14T15:11:50Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.04.002
       
  • The sharing of ballistics data across Europe and neighbouring territories
    • Authors: F. Jeane Gerard; Rebecca L. Crookes; Susan Elliott; Michael Hellenbach; Athanasios Stamos; Helen Poole; Erica Bowen
      Pages: 384 - 393
      Abstract: Publication date: September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 5
      Author(s): F. Jeane Gerard, Rebecca L. Crookes, Susan Elliott, Michael Hellenbach, Athanasios Stamos, Helen Poole, Erica Bowen
      The current study explored the use of ballistic examinations and cross-border information sharing across 14 European countries. The presented data were collected using a mixed methods technique consisting of semi-structured interviews and questionnaires that were completed by participants. The results painted a very heterogeneous picture of the use of automated ballistic systems across these countries, as well as how ballistic analyses are integrated in the fight against gun-enabled crime. Three super-ordinates themes emerged from the thematic analysis: use of automated ballistic systems; Ballistic evidence recovery and analysis; knowledge exchange and best practices. The ability to draw firm conclusions regarding the value of ballistics comparison systems, either on a national or cross-border basis, is hampered by inconsistencies regarding data recording practices and definitions. Therefore, key recommendations are suggested to establish better cross border cooperation between member states and develop a better understanding of data sharing procedures.

      PubDate: 2017-09-14T15:11:50Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.04.010
       
  • Reply to Morrison et al. (2016) Refining the relevant population in
           forensic voice comparison – A response to Hicks et alii (2015) The
           importance of distinguishing information from evidence/observations when
           formulating propositions
    • Authors: T. Hicks; A. Biedermann; J.A. de Koeijer; F. Taroni; C. Champod; I.W. Evett
      Pages: 401 - 402
      Abstract: Publication date: September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 5
      Author(s): T. Hicks, A. Biedermann, J.A. de Koeijer, F. Taroni, C. Champod, I.W. Evett


      PubDate: 2017-09-14T15:11:50Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.04.005
       
  • Sex estimation from the scapula in a contemporary Thai population:
           Applications for forensic anthropology
    • Authors: Tanya R. Peckmann; Shelby Scott; Susan Meek; Pasuk Mahakkanukrauh
      Pages: 270 - 275
      Abstract: Publication date: July 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 4
      Author(s): Tanya R. Peckmann, Shelby Scott, Susan Meek, Pasuk Mahakkanukrauh
      The impact of climate change is estimated to be particularly severe in Thailand. Overall, the country faces an increase in surface temperatures, severe storms and floods, and a possible increase in the number of mass disasters in the region. It is extremely important that forensic scientists have access to sex estimation methods developed for use on a Thai population. The goal of this project is to evaluate the accuracy of sex estimation discriminant functions, created using contemporary Mexican and Greek populations, when applied to a contemporary Thai sample. The length of the glenoid cavity (LGC) and breadth of the glenoid cavity (BGC) were measured. The sample included 191 individuals (95 males and 96 females) with age ranges from 19 to 96years old. Overall, when the Mexican and Greek discriminant functions were applied to the Thai sample they showed higher accuracy rates for sexing female scapulae (83% to 99%) than for sexing male scapulae (53% to 92%). Size comparisons were made to Chilean, Mexican, Guatemalan, White American, and Greek populations. Overall, in males and females of the Thai sample, the scapulae were smaller than in the Chilean, Mexican, White American, and Greek populations. However, the male and female Thai scapulae were larger than in the Guatemalan sample. Population-specific discriminant functions were created for the Thai population with an overall sex classification accuracy rate of 83% to 88%.

      PubDate: 2017-06-12T04:04:12Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.02.005
       
  • Validation studies in forensic odontology – Part 1: Accuracy of
           radiographic matching
    • Authors: Mark Page; Russell Lain; Richard Kemp; Jane Taylor
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Mark Page, Russell Lain, Richard Kemp, Jane Taylor
      As part of a series of studies aimed at validating techniques in forensic odontology, this study aimed to validate the accuracy of ante-mortem (AM)/postmortem (PM) radiographic matching by dentists and forensic odontologists. This study used a web-based interface with 50 pairs of AM and PM radiographs from real casework, at varying degrees of difficulty. Participants were shown both radiographs as a pair and initially asked to decide if they represented the same individual using a yes/no binary choice forced-decision. Participants were asked to assess their level of confidence in their decision, and to make a conclusion using one of the ABFO (American Board of Forensic Odontology), INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organisation) and DVISys™ (DVI System International, Plass Data Software) identification scale degrees. The mean false-positive rate using the binary choice scale was 12%. Overall accuracy was 89% using this model, however, 13% of participants scored below 80%. Only 25% of participants accurately answered yes or no >90% of the time, with no individual making the correct yes/no decision for all 50 pairs of radiographs. Non-odontologists (lay participants) scored poorly, with a mean accuracy of only 60%. Use of the graded ABFO, DVISYS and INTERPOL scales resulted in general improvements in performance, with the false-positive and false-negative rates falling to approximately 2% overall. Inter-examiner agreement in assigning scale degrees was good (ICC=0.64), however there was little correlation between confidence and both accuracy or agreement among practitioners. These results suggest that use of a non-binary scale is supported over a match/non-match call as it reduces the frequency of false positives and negatives. The use of the terms “possible” and “insufficient information” in the same scale appears to create confusion, reducing inter-examiner agreement. The lack of agreement between higher-performing and lower-performing groups suggests that there is an inconsistency in the cognitive processes used to determine similarity between radiographs.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T06:57:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.11.001
       
  • The introduction of forensic advisors in Belgium and their role in the
           criminal justice system
    • Authors: Sonja Bitzer; Laetitia Heudt; Aurélie Barret; Lore George; Karolien Van Dijk; Fabrice Gason; Bertrand Renard
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 November 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Sonja Bitzer, Laetitia Heudt, Aurélie Barret, Lore George, Karolien Van Dijk, Fabrice Gason, Bertrand Renard
      Forensic advisors (FA) at the National Institute for Criminalistics and Criminology (NICC), generalists in forensic science, act as an advising body to the magistrate to improve communication between the various parties involved in the investigation: magistrate, police and crime scene investigators, and forensic experts. Their role is manifold, but their main objectives are to optimise trace processing by selecting the most pertinent traces in the context of the case and by advising magistrates on the feasibility of forensic analyses in particular circumstances in regards to the latest technical advances. Despite the absence of a legal framework governing their role and involvement in judicial cases, the demand for their services has increased over the years. Initially, forensic advisors were called for complex homicide cases. Due to the proximity with the Public Prosecutor's Office, the types of offences for which their expertise was sought have become more diverse (mainly including robbery, burglary and sexual assault cases), leading to a diversity in the types of cases handled by the forensic advisors (complex, simple and review). In many of the cases they are requested for, in addition to consulting on the best analytical strategy, forensic advisors also assume the role of case coordinator regarding the seized objects and their respective analyses. Indeed, in the majority of cases treated by the FAs, two or more types of expertise have been requested and performed, either at the internal laboratories of NICC or at external laboratories. This paper explains the role of the forensic advisors in Belgium, the path that let to their current status and problems encountered.

      PubDate: 2017-11-10T06:57:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.11.002
       
  • Massively parallel sequencing and the emergence of forensic genomics:
           Defining the policy and legal issues for law enforcement
    • Authors: Nathan Scudder; Dennis McNevin; Sally F. Kelty; Simon J. Walsh; James Robertson
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 October 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Nathan Scudder, Dennis McNevin, Sally Kelty, Simon J. Walsh, James Robertson
      Use of DNA in forensic science will be significantly influenced by new technology in coming years. Massively parallel sequencing and forensic genomics will hasten the broadening of forensic DNA analysis beyond short tandem repeats for identity towards a wider array of genetic markers, in applications as diverse as predictive phenotyping, ancestry assignment, and full mitochondrial genome analysis. With these new applications come a range of legal and policy implications, as forensic science touches on areas as diverse as ‘big data’, privacy and protected health information. Although these applications have the potential to make a more immediate and decisive forensic intelligence contribution to criminal investigations, they raise policy issues that will require detailed consideration if this potential is to be realised. The purpose of this paper is to identify the scope of the issues that will confront forensic and user communities.

      PubDate: 2017-10-13T17:45:46Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.10.001
       
  • Acid alteration of several ignitable liquids of potential use in arsons
    • Authors: Carlos Martín-Alberca; Héctor Carrascosa; Itxaso San Román; Luis Bartolomé; Carmen García-Ruiz
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Carlos Martín-Alberca, Héctor Carrascosa, Itxaso San Román, Luis Bartolomé, Carmen García-Ruiz
      Ignitable liquids such as fuels, alcohols and thinners can be used in criminal activities, for instance arsons. Forensic experts require to know their chemical compositions, as well as to understand how different modification effects could impact them, in order to detect, classify and identify them properly in fire debris. The acid alteration/acidification of ignitable liquids is a modification effect that sharply alters the chemical composition, for example, of gasoline and diesel fuel, interfering in the forensic analysis and result interpretation. However, to date there is little information about the consequences of this effect over other accelerants of interests. In this research paper, the alteration by sulfuric acid of several commercial thinners and other accelerants of potential use in arsons is studied in-depth. For that purpose, spectral (by ATR-FTIR) and chromatographic (by GC–MS) data were obtained from neat and acidified samples. Then, the spectral and chromatographic modifications of each studied ignitable liquid were discussed, proposing several chemical mechanisms that explain the new by-products produced and the gradual disappearance of the initial compounds. Hydrolysis, Fischer esterification and alkylation reactions are involved in the modification of esters, alcohols, ketones and aromatic compounds of the studied ignitable liquids. This information could be crucial for correctly identifying these accelerants. Additionally, an exploratory analysis revealed that some of the most altered ignitable liquid samples might be very similar with each other, which could have impact on casework.

      PubDate: 2017-09-27T16:14:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.09.004
       
  • Novel messenger RNAs for body fluid identification
    • Authors: Patricia P. Albani; Rachel Fleming
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Patricia P. Albani, Rachel Fleming
      In forensic investigations, the identification of the cellular or body fluid source of biological evidence can provide crucial probative information for the court. Messenger RNA (mRNA) profiling has become a valuable tool for body fluid and cell type identification due to its high sensitivity and compatibility with DNA analysis. However, using a single marker to determine the somatic origin of a sample can lead to misinterpretation as a result of cross-reactions. While false positives may be avoided through the simultaneous detection of multiple markers per body fluid, this approach is currently limited by the small number of known differentially expressed mRNAs. Here we characterise six novel mRNAs, partly identified from RNA-Seq, which can supplement existing markers for the detection of circulatory blood, semen (with and without spermatozoa) and menstrual fluid: HBD and SLC4A1 for blood, TNP1 for spermatozoa, KLK2 for seminal fluid, and MMP3 and STC1 for menstrual fluid. Their respective expression profiles were evaluated by singleplex endpoint reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). HBD, SLC4A1 and KLK2 were specific to their respective target body fluids. TNP1, MMP3 and STC1 each cross-reacted with two non-target samples, however, these signals were below 350 RFU, not reproducible and likely resulted from large body fluid inputs. Furthermore, all candidates were more sensitive for the detection of their target body fluids than corresponding well-known mRNAs, in particular those for menstrual fluid. The increased sensitivities were statistically significant, except for KLK2. Altogether, the new mRNAs introduced here are promising new targets for improved body fluid profiling.

      PubDate: 2017-09-27T16:14:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.09.002
       
  • Soil forensics: How far can soil clay analysis distinguish between soil
           vestiges'
    • Authors: R.S. Corrêa; V.F. Melo; G.G.F. Abreu; M.H. Sousa; J.A. Chaker; J.A. Gomes
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): R.S. Corrêa, V.F. Melo, G.G.F. Abreu, M.H. Sousa, J.A. Chaker, J.A. Gomes
      Soil traces are useful as forensic evidences because they frequently adhere to individuals and objects associated with crimes and can place or discard a suspect at/from a crime scene. Soil is a mixture of organic and inorganic components and among them soil clay contains signatures that make it reliable as forensic evidences. In this study, we hypothesized that soils can be forensically distinguished through the analysis of their clay fraction alone, and that samples of the same soil type can be consistently distinguished according to the distance they were collected from each other. To test these hypotheses 16 Oxisol samples were collected at distances of between 2m and 1.000m, and 16 Inceptisol samples were collected at distances of between 2m and 300m from each other. Clay fractions were extracted from soil samples and analyzed for hyperspectral color reflectance (HSI), X-ray diffraction crystallographic (XRD), and for contents of iron oxides, kaolinite and gibbsite. The dataset was submitted to multivariate analysis and results were from 65% to 100% effective to distinguish between samples from the two soil types. Both soil types could be consistently distinguished for forensic purposes according to the distance that samples were collected from each other: 1000m for Oxisol and 10m for Inceptisol. Clay color and XRD analysis were the most effective techniques to distinguish clay samples, and Inceptisol samples were more easily distinguished than Oxisol samples. Soil forensics seems a promising field for soil scientists as soil clay can be useful as forensic evidence by using routine analytical techniques from soil science.

      PubDate: 2017-09-27T16:14:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.09.003
       
  • The meaning of justified subjectivism and its role in the reconciliation
           of recent disagreements over forensic probabilism
    • Authors: A. Biedermann; S. Bozza; F. Taroni; C. Aitken
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): A. Biedermann, S. Bozza, F. Taroni, C. Aitken
      In this paper we reply to recent comments in this Special Issue according to which subjective probability is not considered to be a concept fit for use in forensic evaluation and expert reporting. We identify the source of these criticisms to lie in a misunderstanding of subjective probability as unconstrained subjective probability; a lack of constraint that neither corresponds to the way in which we referred to subjective probability in our previous contributions, nor to the way in which probability assignment is understood by current evaluative guidelines (e.g., of ENFSI). Specifically, we explain that we understand subjective probability as a justified assertion, i.e. a conditional assessment based on task-relevant data and information, that may be thought of as a constrained subjective probability. This leads us to emphasise again the general conclusion that there is no gap between justified (or, reasonable) subjective probability and other concepts of probability in terms of its ability to provide assessments that are soundly based on whatever relevant information available. We also note that the challenges an expert faces in reporting probabilities apply equally to all interpretations of probability, not only to subjective probability.

      PubDate: 2017-09-27T16:14:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.08.005
       
  • What should a forensic practitioner's likelihood ratio be' II
    • Authors: Geoffrey Stewart Morrison
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Geoffrey Stewart Morrison
      In the debate as to whether forensic practitioners should assess and report the precision of the strength of evidence statements that they report to the courts, I remain unconvinced by proponents of the position that only a subjectivist concept of probability is legitimate. I consider this position counterproductive for the goal of having forensic practitioners implement, and courts not only accept but demand, logically correct and scientifically valid evaluation of forensic evidence. In considering what would be the best approach for evaluating strength of evidence, I suggest that the desiderata be (1) to maximise empirically demonstrable performance; (2) to maximise objectivity in the sense of maximising transparency and replicability, and minimising the potential for cognitive bias; and (3) to constrain and make overt the forensic practitioner's subjective-judgement based decisions so that the appropriateness of those decisions can be debated before the judge in an admissibility hearing and/or before the trier of fact at trial. All approaches require the forensic practitioner to use subjective judgement, but constraining subjective judgement to decisions relating to selection of hypotheses, properties to measure, training and test data to use, and statistical modelling procedures to use – decisions which are remote from the output stage of the analysis – will substantially reduce the potential for cognitive bias. Adopting procedures based on relevant data, quantitative measurements, and statistical models, and directly reporting the output of the statistical models will also maximise transparency and replicability. A procedure which calculates a Bayes factor on the basis of relevant sample data and reference priors is no less objective than a frequentist calculation of a likelihood ratio on the same data. In general, a Bayes factor calculated using uninformative or reference priors will be closer to a value of 1 than a frequentist best estimate likelihood ratio. The bound closest to 1 based on a frequentist best estimate likelihood ratio and an assessment of its precision will also, by definition, be closer to a value of 1 than the frequentist best estimate likelihood ratio. From a practical perspective, both procedures shrink the strength of evidence value towards the neutral value of 1. A single-value Bayes factor or likelihood ratio may be easier for the courts to handle than a distribution. I therefore propose as a potential practical solution, the use of procedures which account for imprecision by shrinking the calculated Bayes factor or likelihood ratio towards 1, the choice of the particular procedure being based on empirical demonstration of performance.

      PubDate: 2017-09-27T16:14:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.08.004
       
  • IFC: Editorial Board
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 5


      PubDate: 2017-09-14T15:11:50Z
       
  • BM1: Events Guide
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 5


      PubDate: 2017-09-14T15:11:50Z
       
  • BM2: Council Information
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 5


      PubDate: 2017-09-14T15:11:50Z
       
  • Aiding the interpretation of forensic gait analysis: Development of a
           features of gait database
    • Authors: Ivan Birch; Claire Gwinnett; Jeremy Walker
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 August 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Ivan Birch, Claire Gwinnett, Jeremy Walker


      PubDate: 2017-09-02T15:03:16Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.08.006
       
  • Ink dating, part I: Statistical distribution of selected ageing parameters
           in a ballpoint inks reference population
    • Authors: Agnès Koenig; Céline Weyermann
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 August 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Agnès Koenig, Céline Weyermann
      The development of ink dating methods requires an important amount of work in order to be reliably applicable in practice. Major tasks include the definition of ageing parameters to monitor ink ageing. An adequate parameter should ideally fulfil the following criteria: it should evolve as a function of time in a monotonic way, be measurable in a majority of ink entries, be as accurate and reproducible as possible, and finally it should not be influenced too much by transfer and storage conditions. This work aimed at evaluating the potential of seven ageing parameters for ink dating purposes: the phenoxyethanol quantity, relative peak areas (RPA), three solvent loss ratios (R%, R%*, NR%) and two solvent loss parameters (RNORM, NRNORM). These were calculated over approximately one year for 25 inks selected from a large database to represent different ageing behaviours. Ink entries were analysed using liquid extraction followed by GC/MS analysis. Results showed that natural ageing parameters (NR% and NRNORM) were not suitable ageing parameters for ink entries older than a few weeks. RPA used other compounds present in ink formulations in combination to PE in order to normalise the results. However, it presented particular difficulties as they could not be defined for all inks and were thus applicable only for 64% of the studied inks. Finally, the PE quantity, R% and RNORM allowed to follow the ageing of the selected inks over the whole time frame and were identified as the most promising. These were thus selected to test three different interpretation models in the second part of this article. The possibilities and limitations of ink dating methods will be discussed in a legal perspective.

      PubDate: 2017-09-02T15:03:16Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.08.002
       
  • Ink dating part II: Interpretation of results in a legal perspective
    • Authors: Agnès Koenig; Céline Weyermann
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 8 August 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Agnès Koenig, Céline Weyermann
      The development of an ink dating method requires an important investment of resources in order to step from the monitoring of ink ageing on paper to the determination of the actual age of a questioned ink entry. This article aimed at developing and evaluating the potential of three interpretation models to date ink entries in a legal perspective: (1) the threshold model comparing analytical results to tabulated values in order to determine the maximal possible age of an ink entry, (2) the trend tests that focusing on the “ageing status” of an ink entry, and (3) the likelihood ratio calculation comparing the probabilities to observe the results under at least two alternative hypotheses. This is the first report showing ink dating interpretation results on a ballpoint be ink reference population. In the first part of this paper three ageing parameters were selected as promising from the population of 25 ink entries aged during 4 to 304days: the quantity of phenoxyethanol (PE), the difference between the PE quantities contained in a naturally aged sample and an artificially aged sample (RNORM) and the solvent loss ratio (R%). In the current part, each model was tested using the three selected ageing parameters. Results showed that threshold definition remains a simple model easily applicable in practice, but that the risk of false positive cannot be completely avoided without reducing significantly the feasibility of the ink dating approaches. The trend tests from the literature showed unreliable results and an alternative had to be developed yielding encouraging results. The likelihood ratio calculation introduced a degree of certainty to the ink dating conclusion in comparison to the threshold approach. The proposed model remains quite simple to apply in practice, but should be further developed in order to yield reliable results in practice.

      PubDate: 2017-09-02T15:03:16Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.08.003
       
  • Design, optimisation and preliminary validation of a human specific
           loop-mediated amplification assay for the rapid detection of human DNA at
           forensic crime scenes
    • Authors: H.J. Hird; M.K. Brown
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 August 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): H.J. Hird, M.K. Brown
      The identification of samples at a crime scene which require forensic DNA typing has been the focus of recent research interest. We propose a simple, but sensitive analysis system which can be deployed at a crime scene to identify crime scene stains as human or non-human. The proposed system uses the isothermal amplification of DNA in a rapid assay format, which returns results in as little as 30min from sampling. The assay system runs on the Genie II device, a proven in-field detection system which could be deployed at a crime scene. The results presented here demonstrate that the system was sufficiently specific and sensitive and was able to detect the presence of human blood, semen and saliva on mock forensic samples.

      PubDate: 2017-09-02T15:03:16Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.08.001
       
  • Forensic science and the right to access to justice: Testing the efficacy
           of self-examination intimate DNA swabs to enhance victim-centred responses
           to sexual violence in low-resource environments
    • Authors: Lisa Smith; Jon H. Wetton; Gurdeep K.M. Lall; Heather D. Flowe; Mark A. Jobling
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 July 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Lisa Smith, Jon H. Wetton, Gurdeep K.M. Lall, Heather D. Flowe, Mark A. Jobling
      In developed countries, DNA profiling routinely forms part of the forensic strategy in the investigation of sexual violence. Medical examinations provide opportunities for recovering DNA evidence from intimate swabs, which can be particularly probative in cases where the identity of the perpetrator is unknown and proof of intercourse between two people is required. In low-resource environments, such as developing countries, remote geographic locations, conflict (and post-conflict) affected regions and displaced communities where access to medical examinations is lacking, DNA evidence is not available to support prosecutions and perpetrators are rarely identified and held accountable for crimes of sexual violence. This paper reports the results of a proof-of-concept study testing the efficacy of a novel self-examination intimate swab designed for recovering DNA following unprotected sexual intercourse. The results of this study corroborate previous research which has demonstrated that male DNA profiles can be successfully recovered by post-coital, self-examination methods, and discusses how this novel approach could enable the integration of DNA evidence into victim-centred approaches to investigating and prosecuting sexual violence in low-resource environments. The results and discussion challenge the prevailing assumption that intimate DNA swabs must be collected by trained medical professionals in order to be of evidential value.

      PubDate: 2017-07-23T13:46:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.07.004
       
  • Strengthening forensic DNA decision making through a better understanding
           of the influence of cognitive bias
    • Authors: Amy M. Jeanguenat; Bruce Budowle; Itiel E. Dror
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 July 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Amy M. Jeanguenat, Bruce Budowle, Itiel E. Dror
      Cognitive bias may influence process flows and decision making steps in forensic DNA analyses and interpretation. Currently, seven sources of bias have been identified that may affect forensic decision making with roots in human nature; environment, culture, and experience; and case specific information. Most of the literature and research on cognitive bias in forensic science has focused on patterned evidence; however, forensic DNA testing is not immune to bias, especially when subjective interpretation is involved. DNA testing can be strengthened by recognizing the existence of bias, evaluating where it influences decision making, and, when applicable, implementing practices to reduce or control its effects. Elements that may improve forensic decision making regarding bias include cognitively informed education and training, quality assurance procedures, review processes, analysis and interpretation, and context management of irrelevant information. Although bias exists, reliable results often can be (and have been) produced. However, at times bias can (and has) impacted the interpretation of DNA results negatively. Therefore, being aware of the dangers of bias and implementing measures to control its potential impact should be considered. Measures and procedures that handicap the workings of the crime laboratory or add little value to improving the operation are not advocated, but simple yet effective measures are suggested. This article is meant to raise awareness of cognitive bias contamination in forensic DNA testing, and to give laboratories possible pathways to make sound decisions to address its influences.

      PubDate: 2017-07-23T13:46:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.07.005
       
  • Analysing and exemplifying forensic conclusion criteria in terms of
           Bayesian decision theory
    • Authors: A. Biedermann; S. Bozza; F. Taroni
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 July 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): A. Biedermann, S. Bozza, F. Taroni
      There is ongoing discussion in forensic science and the law about the nature of the conclusions reached based on scientific evidence, and on how such conclusions – and conclusion criteria – may be justified by rational argument. Examples, among others, are encountered in fields such as fingermarks (e.g., ‘this fingermark comes from Mr. A’s left thumb’), handwriting examinations (e.g., ‘the questioned signature is that of Mr. A’), kinship analyses (e.g., ‘Mr. A is the father of child C’) or anthropology (e.g., ‘these are human remains’). Considerable developments using formal methods of reasoning based on, for example (Bayesian) decision theory, are available in literature, but currently such reference principles are not explicitly used in operational forensic reporting and ensuing decision-making. Moreover, applied examples, illustrating the principles, are scarce. A potential consequence of this in practical proceedings, and hence a cause of concern, is that underlying ingredients of decision criteria (such as losses quantifying the undesirability of adverse decision consequences), are not properly dealt with. There is merit, thus, in pursuing the study and discussion of practical examples, demonstrating that formal decision-theoretic principles are not merely conceptual considerations. Actually, these principles can be shown to underpin practical decision-making procedures and existing legal decision criteria, though often not explicitly apparent as such. In this paper, we will present such examples and discuss their properties from a Bayesian decision-theoretic perspective. We will argue that these are essential concepts for an informed discourse on decision-making across forensic disciplines and the development of a coherent view on this topic. We will also emphasize that these principles are of normative nature in the sense that they provide standards against which actual judgment and decision-making may be compared. Most importantly, these standards are justified independently of peoples’ observable decision behaviour, and of whether or not one endorses these formal methods of reasoning.

      PubDate: 2017-07-23T13:46:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.07.002
       
  • Dead weight: Validation of mass regression equations on experimentally
           burned skeletal remains to assess skeleton completeness
    • Authors: D. Gonçalves; J. d'Oliveira Coelho; A. Amarante; C. Makhoul; I.O. Santos; D. Navega; Eugénia Cunha
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 July 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): D. Gonçalves, J. d'Oliveira Coelho, A. Amarante, C. Makhoul, I.O. Santos, D. Navega, Eugénia Cunha
      In very fragmentary remains, the thorough inventory of skeletal elements is often impossible to accomplish. Mass has been used instead to assess the completeness of the skeleton. Two different mass-based methods of assessing skeleton completeness were tested on a sample of experimentally burned skeletons with the objective of determining which of them is more reliable. The first method was based on a simple comparison of the mass of each individual skeleton with previously published mass references. The second method was based on mass linear regressions from individual bones to estimate complete skeleton mass. The clavicle, humerus, femur, patella, metacarpal, metatarsal and tarsal bones were used. The sample was composed of 20 experimentally burned skeletons from 10 males and 10 females with ages-at-death between 68 and 90years old. Results demonstrated that the regression approach is more objective and more reliable than the reference comparison approach even though not all bones provided satisfactory estimations of the complete skeleton mass. The femur, humerus and patella provided the best performances among the individual bones. The estimations based on the latter had root mean squared errors (RMSE) smaller than 300g. Results demonstrated that the regression approach is quite promising although the patella was the only reasonable predictor expected to survive sufficiently intact to a burning event at high temperatures. The mass comparison approach has the advantage of not depending on the preservation of individual bones. Whenever bones are intact though, the application of mass regressions should be preferentially used because it is less subjective.

      PubDate: 2017-07-23T13:46:25Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.07.003
       
  • Practical evaluation of an RNA-based saliva identification method
    • Authors: Ken Watanabe; Tomoko Akutsu; Ayari Takamura; Koichi Sakurada
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 11 July 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Ken Watanabe, Tomoko Akutsu, Ayari Takamura, Koichi Sakurada
      Identifying saliva in samples found at crime scenes is important to clarify the tissue origin of DNA obtained for identification of individuals. Recently, a novel messenger RNA-based approach using two saliva-specific markers, Statherin (STATH) and Histatin 3 (HTN3), has been reported. This method can identify saliva more specifically than conventional amylase-based methods. Here, we performed several evaluations related to applying this method to real-world forensic work. First, we evaluated the effects of exposure to blue light (450nm) or to the reagent on Phadebas paper, which are direct methods used to locate saliva stains, on the stability of the RNA markers. The results demonstrate that exposure to the two direct tests did not affect the stability of the RNA markers. Second, we performed a comparative analysis of RNA-based and amylase-based conventional methods to examine the sensitivity and stability of the markers under various storage conditions. Although there was no difference in the sensitivity of the two methods for detecting 1-day-old saliva stains, a time-course study demonstrated that the RNA saliva markers were less stable than amylase, especially in wet conditions. During this time-course experiment, the stability of human DNA was also investigated. Although DNA was also unstable in wet conditions, it was more stable than the RNA markers in dry conditions. Taking the above results into consideration, we suggest that the RNA method could be introduced to current saliva identification procedures and should be used as a supplementary method to strongly support identification of saliva by the amylase-based method.

      PubDate: 2017-07-12T13:11:15Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.07.001
       
  • Recognition of computerized facial approximations by familiar assessors
    • Authors: Adam H. Richard; Keith L. Monson
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 20 June 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Adam H. Richard, Keith L. Monson
      Studies testing the effectiveness of facial approximations typically involve groups of participants who are unfamiliar with the approximated individual(s). This limitation requires the use of photograph arrays including a picture of the subject for comparison to the facial approximation. While this practice is often necessary due to the difficulty in obtaining a group of assessors who are familiar with the approximated subject, it may not accurately simulate the thought process of the target audience (friends and family members) in comparing a mental image of the approximated subject to the facial approximation. As part of a larger process to evaluate the effectiveness and best implementation of the ReFace facial approximation software program, the rare opportunity arose to conduct a recognition study using assessors who were personally acquainted with the subjects of the approximations. ReFace facial approximations were generated based on preexisting medical scans, and co-workers of the scan donors were tested on whether they could accurately pick out the approximation of their colleague from arrays of facial approximations. Results from the study demonstrated an overall poor recognition performance (i.e., where a single choice within a pool is not enforced) for individuals who were familiar with the approximated subjects. Out of 220 recognition tests only 10.5% resulted in the assessor selecting the correct approximation (or correctly choosing not to make a selection when the array consisted only of foils), an outcome that was not significantly different from the 9% random chance rate. When allowed to select multiple approximations the assessors felt resembled the target individual, the overall sensitivity for ReFace approximations was 16.0% and the overall specificity was 81.8%. These results differ markedly from the results of a previous study using assessors who were unfamiliar with the approximated subjects. Some possible explanations for this disparity in performance were examined, and it was ultimately concluded that ReFace facial approximations may have limited effectiveness if used in the traditional way. However, some promising alternative uses are explored that may expand the utility of facial approximations for aiding in the identification of unknown human remains.
      Graphical abstract image

      PubDate: 2017-06-22T12:55:43Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.06.004
       
  • Score based procedures for the calculation of forensic likelihood ratios
           – Scores should take account of both similarity and typicality
    • Authors: Geoffrey Stewart Morrison; Ewald Enzinger
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 June 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Geoffrey Stewart Morrison, Ewald Enzinger
      Score based procedures for the calculation of forensic likelihood ratios are popular across different branches of forensic science. They have two stages, first a function or model which takes measured features from known-source and questioned-source pairs as input and calculates scores as output, then a subsequent model which converts scores to likelihood ratios. We demonstrate that scores which are purely measures of similarity are not appropriate for calculating forensically interpretable likelihood ratios. In addition to taking account of similarity between the questioned-origin specimen and the known-origin sample, scores must also take account of the typicality of the questioned-origin specimen with respect to a sample of the relevant population specified by the defence hypothesis. We use Monte Carlo simulations to compare the output of three score based procedures with reference likelihood ratio values calculated directly from the fully specified Monte Carlo distributions. The three types of scores compared are: 1. non-anchored similarity-only scores; 2. non-anchored similarity and typicality scores; and 3. known-source anchored same-origin scores and questioned-source anchored different-origin scores. We also make a comparison with the performance of a procedure using a dichotomous “match”/“non-match” similarity score, and compare the performance of 1 and 2 on real data.

      PubDate: 2017-06-22T12:55:43Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.06.005
       
  • Events Guide
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 4


      PubDate: 2017-06-12T04:04:12Z
       
  • Council Information
    • Abstract: Publication date: July 2017
      Source:Science & Justice, Volume 57, Issue 4


      PubDate: 2017-06-12T04:04:12Z
       
  • Conceptualising forensic science and forensic reconstruction; part I: A
           conceptual model
    • Authors: R.M. Morgan
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 June 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): R.M. Morgan
      There has been a call for forensic science to actively return to the approach of scientific endeavour. The importance of incorporating an awareness of the requirements of the law in its broadest sense, and embedding research into both practice and policy within forensic science, is arguably critical to achieving such an endeavour. This paper presents a conceptual model (FoRTE) that outlines the holistic nature of trace evidence in the ‘endeavour’ of forensic reconstruction. This model offers insights into the different components intrinsic to transparent, reproducible and robust reconstructions in forensic science. The importance of situating evidence within the whole forensic science process (from crime scene to court), of developing evidence bases to underpin each stage, of frameworks that offer insights to the interaction of different lines of evidence, and the role of expertise in decision making are presented and their interactions identified. It is argued that such a conceptual model has value in identifying the future steps for harnessing the value of trace evidence in forensic reconstruction. It also highlights that there is a need to develop a nuanced approach to reconstructions that incorporates both empirical evidence bases and expertise. A conceptual understanding has the potential to ensure that the endeavour of forensic reconstruction has its roots in ‘problem-solving’ science, and can offer transparency and clarity in the conclusions and inferences drawn from trace evidence, thereby enabling the value of trace evidence to be realised in investigations and the courts.

      PubDate: 2017-06-12T04:04:12Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.06.002
       
  • Conceptualising forensic science and forensic reconstruction; part II: The
           critical interaction between research, policy/law and practice
    • Authors: R.M. Morgan
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 10 June 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): R.M. Morgan
      This paper builds on the FoRTE conceptual model presented in part I to address the forms of knowledge that are integral to the four components of the model. Articulating the different forms of knowledge within effective forensic reconstructions is valuable. It enables a nuanced approach to the development and use of evidence bases to underpin decision-making at every stage of a forensic reconstruction by enabling transparency in the reporting of inferences. It also enables appropriate methods to be developed to ensure quality and validity. It is recognised that the domains of practice, research, and policy/law intersect to form the nexus where forensic science is situated. Each domain has a distinctive infrastructure that influences the production and application of different forms of knowledge in forensic science. The channels that can enable the interaction between these domains, enhance the impact of research in theory and practice, increase access to research findings, and support quality are presented. The particular strengths within the different domains to deliver problem solving forensic reconstructions are thereby identified and articulated. It is argued that a conceptual understanding of forensic reconstruction that draws on the full range of both explicit and tacit forms of knowledge, and incorporates the strengths of the different domains pertinent to forensic science, offers a pathway to harness the full value of trace evidence for context sensitive, problem-solving forensic applications.

      PubDate: 2017-06-12T04:04:12Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.06.003
       
  • Improving uncertainty in Widmark equation calculations: Alcohol volume,
           strength and density
    • Authors: Peter D. Maskell; R. Alex Speers; Dawn L. Maskell
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 May 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Peter D. Maskell, R. Alex Speers, Dawn L. Maskell
      The Widmark equation is probably the most commonly used calculation for medicolegal purposes. Recently the National Research Council (USA) and the Forensic Science Regulator (UK) have called for the uncertainty of all results to be given with all forensic measurements and calculations. To improve the uncertainty of measurement of results from Widmark calculations we have concentrated on the uncertainties of measurement involved in the calculation of alcohol, that of the volume of alcohol, the concentration of alcohol and the density of alcohol as previous studies have investigated some of the other factors involved. Using experimental studies, the scientific literature and legal statutes, we have determined revised and improved uncertainties of the concentration of ethanol for Widmark calculations for both the USA and UK. Based on the calculations that we have performed we recommend the use of Monte Carlo Simulation for the determination of uncertainty of measurement for Widmark Calculations.

      PubDate: 2017-05-18T02:48:56Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.05.006
       
  • An investigation into the effect of surveillance drones on textile
           evidence at crime scenes
    • Authors: Alistair Bucknell; Tom Bassindale
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 May 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Alistair Bucknell, Tom Bassindale
      With increasing numbers of Police forces using drones for crime scene surveillance, the effect of the drones on trace evidence present needs evaluation. In this investigation the effect of flying a quadcopter drone at different heights over a controlled scene and taking off at different distances from the scene were measured. Yarn was placed on a range of floor surfaces and the number lost or moved from their original position was recorded. It was possible to estimate “safe” distances above and take off distance from the bath mat (2m and 1m respectively), and carpet tile (3m and 1m) which were the roughest surfaces. The maximum distances tested of 5m above and 2m from was not far enough to prevent significant disturbance with the other floor surfaces. This report illustrates the importance of considering the impact of new technologies into a forensic workflow on established forensic evidence prior to implementation.

      PubDate: 2017-05-18T02:48:56Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.05.004
       
  • The transfer of diatoms from freshwater to footwear materials: An
           experimental study assessing transfer, persistence, and extraction methods
           for forensic reconstruction
    • Authors: E.A. Levin; R.M. Morgan; V.J. Jones
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 15 May 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): E.A. Levin, R.M. Morgan, V.J. Jones
      In recent years there has been growing interest in environmental forms of trace evidence, and ecological trace evidence collected from footwear has proved valuable within casework. Simultaneously, there has been growing awareness of the need for empirical experimentation to underpin forensic inferences. Diatoms are unicellular algae, and each cell (or ‘frustule’) consists of two valves which are made of silica, a robust material that favours their preservation both in sediments and within forensic scenarios. A series of experiments were carried out to investigate the transfer and persistence of diatoms upon common footwear materials, a recipient surface that has historically been overlooked by studies of persistence. The effectiveness of two novel extraction techniques (jet rinsing, and heating and agitation with distilled water) was compared to the established extraction technique of hydrogen peroxide digestion, for a suite of five common footwear materials: canvas, leather, and ‘suede’ (representing upper materials), and rubber and polyurethane (representing sole materials). It was observed that the novel extraction technique of heating and agitation with distilled water did not extract fewer diatom valves, or cause increased fragmentation of valves, when compared to peroxide digestion, suggesting that the method may be viable where potentially hazardous chemical reactions may be encountered with the peroxide digestion method. Valves could be extracted from all five footwear materials after 3min of immersion, and more valves were extracted from the rougher, woven upper materials than the smoother sole materials. Canvas yielded the most valves (a mean of 2511/cm2) and polyurethane the fewest (a mean of 15/cm2). The persistence of diatoms on the three upper materials was addressed with a preliminary pilot investigation, with ten intervals sampled between 0 and 168h. Valves were seen to persist in detectable quantities after 168h on all three upper materials. However, some samples produced slides with no valves, and the earliest time after which no diatom valves were found was 4h after the transfer. Analysis of the particle size distributions over time, by image analysis, suggests that the retention of diatoms may be size-selective; after 168h, no particles larger than 200μm2 could be found on the samples of canvas, and >95% of the particles on the samples of suede were less than or equal to 200μm2. A pilot investigation into the effects of immersion interval was carried out upon samples of canvas. Greater numbers of valves were extracted from the samples with longer immersion intervals, but even after 30s, >500 valves could be recovered per cm2, suggesting that footwear may be sampled for diatoms even if the contact with a water body may have been brief. These findings indicate that, if the variability within and between experimental runs can be addressed, there is significant potential for diatoms to be incorporated into the trace analysis of footwear and assist forensic reconstructions.

      PubDate: 2017-05-18T02:48:56Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.05.005
       
  • The use of handwriting examinations beyond the traditional court purpose
    • Authors: Anna Agius; Kylie Jones; Rochelle Epple; Marie Morelato; Sébastien Moret; Scott Chadwick; Claude Roux
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 May 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Anna Agius, Kylie Jones, Rochelle Epple, Marie Morelato, Sébastien Moret, Scott Chadwick, Claude Roux
      Traditionally, forensic science has predominantly focused its resources and objectives on addressing court related questions. However, this view restricts the contribution of forensic science to one function and results in lost opportunities as investigative and intelligence roles are often overlooked. A change of perspective and expansion of the contributions of forensic science is required to take advantage of the benefits of abductive and inductive thought processes throughout the investigative and intelligence functions. One forensic discipline that has the potential to broaden its traditional focus is handwriting examination. Typically used in investigations that are focused on both criminal and civil cases, the examination procedure and outcome are time consuming and subjective, requiring a detailed study of the features of the handwriting in question. Traditionally, the major handwriting features exploited are characteristics that are often considered individual (or at least highly polymorphic) and habitual. However, handwriting can be considered as an information vector in an intelligence framework. One such example is the recognition of key elements related to the author's native language. This paper discusses the traditional method generally used around the world and proposes a theoretical approach to expand the application of handwriting examination towards gaining additional information for intelligence purposes. This concept will be designed and tested in a future research project.

      PubDate: 2017-05-18T02:48:56Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.05.001
       
  • The persistence of human DNA in soil following surface decomposition
    • Authors: Alexandra Emmons; Jennifer M. DeBruyn; Amy Z. Mundorff; Kelly L. Cobaugh; Graciela S. Cabana
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 May 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Alexandra Emmons, Jennifer M. DeBruyn, Amy Z. Mundorff, Kelly L. Cobaugh, Graciela S. Cabana
      Though recent decades have seen a marked increase in research concerning the impact of human decomposition on the grave soil environment, the fate of human DNA in grave soil has been relatively understudied. With the purpose of supplementing the growing body of literature in forensic soil taphonomy, this study assessed the relative persistence of human DNA in soil over the course of decomposition. Endpoint PCR was used to assess the presence or absence of human nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, while qPCR was used to evaluate the quantity of human DNA recovered from the soil beneath four cadavers at the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility (ARF). Human nuclear DNA from the soil was largely unrecoverable, while human mitochondrial DNA was detectable in the soil throughout all decomposition stages. Mitochondrial DNA copy abundances were not significantly different between decomposition stages and were not significantly correlated to soil edaphic parameters tested. There was, however, a significant positive correlation between mitochondrial DNA copy abundances and the human associated bacteria, Bacteroides, as estimated by 16S rRNA gene abundances. These results show that human mitochondrial DNA can persist in grave soil and be consistently detected throughout decomposition.

      PubDate: 2017-05-18T02:48:56Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.05.002
       
  • Genetic DNA profile in urine and hair follicles from patients who have
           undergone allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
    • Authors: Ana Santurtún; José A. Riancho; Maite Santurtún; Carlos Richard; M. Mercedes Colorado; Mayte García Unzueta; María T. Zarrabeitia
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 13 May 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Ana Santurtún, José A. Riancho, Maite Santurtún, Carlos Richard, M. Mercedes Colorado, Mayte García Unzueta, María T. Zarrabeitia
      Biological samples from patients who have undergone allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) constitute a challenge for individual identification. In this study we analyzed the genetic profiles (by the amplification of 15 autosomic STRs) of HSCT patients found in different types of samples (blood, hair and urine) that may be the source of DNA in civil or criminal forensic cases. Our results show that while in hair follicles the donor component was not detected in any patient, thus being a reliable source of biological material for forensic identification, mixed chimerism was detected in urine samples from all patient, and no correlation was found between the time elapsed from the transplant and the percentage of chimerism. These results certainly have practical implications if the urine is being considered as a source of DNA for identification purposes in HSTC patients. Moreover, taking into consideration that chimerism was found not only in patients with leukocyturia (given the hematopoietic origin of leukocytes, this was expected), but also in those without observable leukocytes in the sediment, we conclude that an alternative source or sources of donor DNA must be implicated.

      PubDate: 2017-05-18T02:48:56Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.05.003
       
  • ATR-FTIR characterization of, generic, brand-named and counterfeit
           sildenafil- and tadalafil-based tablets found on the Brazilian market
    • Authors: José Coelho Neto; Fernanda L.C. Lisboa
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 April 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): José Coelho Neto, Fernanda L.C. Lisboa
      Viagra and Cialis are among the most counterfeited medicines in many parts of the world, including Brazil. Despite many studies have been made regarding discrimination between genuine and counterfeit samples, most published works do not contemplate generic and similar versions of these medicines and also do not explore excipients/adjuvants contributions when characterizing genuine and suspected samples. In this study, we present our findings in exploring ATR-FTIR spectral profiles for characterizing both genuine and questioned samples of several generic and brand-name sildenafil- and taladafil-based tablets available on the Brazilian market, including Viagra and Cialis. Multi-component spectral matching (deconvolution), objective visual comparison and correlation tests were used during analysis. Besides from allowing simple and quick identification of counterfeits, results obtained evidenced the strong spectral similarities between generic and brand-named tablets employing the same active ingredient and the indistinguishability between samples produced by the same manufacturer, generic or not. For all sildenafil-based and some tadalafil-based tablets tested, differentiation between samples from different manufacturers, attributed to slight variations in excipients/adjuvants proportions, was achieved, thus allowing the possibility of tracing an unknown/unidentified tablet back to a specific manufacturer.

      PubDate: 2017-04-25T02:09:09Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.04.009
       
  • The adaptation of a 360° camera utilising an alternate light source (ALS)
           for the detection of biological fluids at crime scenes
    • Authors: Kayleigh Sheppard; John P. Cassella; Sarah Fieldhouse; Roberto King
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 12 April 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Kayleigh Sheppard, John P. Cassella, Sarah Fieldhouse, Roberto King
      One of the most important and commonly encountered evidence types that can be recovered at crime scenes are biological fluids. Due to the ephemeral nature of biological fluids and the valuable DNA that they can contain, it is fundamental that these are documented extensively and recovered rapidly. Locating and identifying biological fluids can prove a challenging task but can aid in reconstructing a sequence of events. Alternate light sources (ALS) offer powerful non-invasive methods for locating and enhancing biological fluids utilising different wavelengths of light. Current methods for locating biological fluids using ALS's may be time consuming, as they often require close range searching of potentially large crime scenes. Subsequent documentation using digital cameras and alternate light sources can increase the investigation time and due to the cameras low dynamic range, photographs can appear under or over exposed. This study presents a technique, which allows the simultaneous detection and visualisation of semen and saliva utilising a SceneCam 360° camera (Spheron VR AG), which was adapted to integrate a blue Crime Lite XL (Foster+Freeman). This technique was investigated using different volumes of semen and saliva, on porous and non-porous substrates, and the ability to detect these at incremental distances from the substrate. Substrate type and colour had a significant effect on the detection of the biological fluid, with limited fluid detection on darker substrates. The unique real-time High Dynamic range (HDR) ability of the SceneCam significantly enhanced the detection of biological fluids where background fluorescence masked target fluorescence. These preliminary results are presented as a proof of concept for combining 360° photography using HDR and an ALS for the detection of biological stains, within a scene, in real time, whilst conveying spatial relationships of staining to other evidence. This technique presents the opportunity to presumptively screen a crime scene for biological fluids and will facilitate simultaneous location and visualisation of biological evidence.

      PubDate: 2017-04-18T01:36:10Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.04.004
       
  • Forensic intelligence applied to questioned document analysis: A model and
           its application against organized crime
    • Authors: Josep De Alcaraz-Fossoul; Katherine A. Roberts
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 April 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Josep De Alcaraz-Fossoul, Katherine A. Roberts
      The capability of forensic sciences to fight crime, especially against organized criminal groups, becomes relevant in the recent economic downturn and the war on terrorism. In view of these societal challenges, the methods of combating crime should experience critical changes in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the current resources available. It is obvious that authorities have serious difficulties combating criminal groups of transnational nature. These are characterized as well structured organizations with international connections, abundant financial resources and comprised of members with significant and diverse expertise. One common practice among organized criminal groups is the use of forged documents that allow for the commission of illegal cross-border activities. Law enforcement can target these movements to identify counterfeits and establish links between these groups. Information on document falsification can become relevant to generate forensic intelligence and to design new strategies against criminal activities of this nature and magnitude. This article discusses a methodology for improving the development of forensic intelligence in the discipline of questioned document analysis. More specifically, it focuses on document forgeries and falsification types used by criminal groups. It also describes the structure of international criminal organizations that use document counterfeits as means to conduct unlawful activities. The model presented is partially based on practical applications of the system that have resulted in satisfactory outcomes in our laboratory.

      PubDate: 2017-04-11T08:08:16Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.04.003
       
  • An investigation into the cause of the inner dark areas and outer lighter
           areas (ghosting) seen in dynamically-created two-dimensional bare
           footprints
    • Authors: Wesley Vernon OBE; Sarah Reel; Selina Reidy; Neil Simmonite
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 3 April 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Wesley Vernon OBE, Sarah Reel, Selina Reidy, Neil Simmonite
      Dynamic bare footprints differ from static bare footprints through the presence of additional, lighter markings around the rear of the heel print and apices of the toe print areas. These images can appropriately be described as inner dark and outer ghosting features. To date, the functional cause of both features has not been understood. To gain such an understanding could potentially allow the further development and use of these features in forensic identification. The aim of this project was to investigate the causes of the inner dark and outer ghosting features seen in dynamic bare footprints through an observational, practice-based action research approach within a gait laboratory. Volunteer male participants provided bare footprints on inkless paper taped to a Kistler force plate with video cameras situated either side. Ground reaction force data were collected as the footprints were formed and the event recorded using video cameras to allow these data to be correlated later. The findings suggest that the ghosting at the heel is the result of splaying of the fibro fatty pad, while that at the toes is the result of the distal ends of the toes coming into contact with the ground as the heel is lifted. Footprint, ground reaction force and video data comparisons showed that the inner dark area of the heel print corresponded with the main body of the heel contacting the ground. Outer ghosting corresponded with a backward splaying of the fat pad and the heel strike transient spike in vertical ground reaction force during increased loading. The inner dark area of the toes corresponded with a longer period of toe contact with the ground. Outer ghosting corresponded with the decreasing vertical ground reaction force and shorter contact time as the toes were leaving the ground towards the end of the contact phase of gait. Although the sample size was limited, these are new appreciations which could facilitate the use of the inner dark features in identification to provide additional points for comparison in cases involving dynamic bare footprints. Further work is now indicated to study these features in different populations and under varying conditions.

      PubDate: 2017-04-04T07:46:32Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.03.007
       
  • Identification at the crime scene: The sooner, the better? The
           interpretation of rapid identification information by CSIs at the crime
           scene
    • Authors: Madeleine de Gruijter; Claire Nee; Christianne J. de Poot
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 31 March 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Madeleine de Gruijter, Claire Nee, Christianne J. de Poot
      New technologies will allow Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) in the near future to analyse traces at the crime scene and receive identification information while still conducting the investigation. These developments could have considerable effects on the way an investigation is conducted. CSIs may start reasoning based on possible database-matches which could influence scenario formation (i.e. the construction of narratives that explain the observed traces) during very early phases of the investigation. The goal of this study is to gain more insight into the influence of the rapid identification information on the reconstruction of the crime and the evaluation of traces by addressing two questions, namely 1) is scenario formation influenced from the moment that ID information is provided and 2) do database matches influence the evaluation of traces and the reconstruction of the crime. We asked 48 CSIs from the UK to investigate a potential murder crime scene on a computer. Our findings show that the interpretation of the crime scene by CSIs is affected by the moment identification information is provided. This information has a higher influence on scenario formation when provided after an initial scenario has been formed. Also, CSIs seem to attach great value to traces that produce matches with databases and hence yield a name of a known person. Similar traces that did not provide matches were considered less important. We question whether this kind of selective attention is desirable as it may cause ignorance of other relevant information at the crime scene.

      PubDate: 2017-04-04T07:46:32Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.03.006
       
  • Sample-specific odontometric sex estimation: A method with potential
           application to burned remains
    • Authors: Marcia Filipa de Jesus Gouveia; Inês Santos; Ana Luísa Santos; David Gonçalves
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 March 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): Marcia Filipa de Jesus Gouveia, Inês Santos, Ana Luísa Santos, David Gonçalves
      Metric features are often the only preserved sexually dimorphic features to allow sex estimation in burned human remains, but this is complicated by heat-induced dimensional changes. The potential of odontometry for sex estimation was investigated. A sample of permanent lower second pre-molars from 20 males and 20 females was experimentally burned at 900°C to assess heat-induced changes in the sexual dimorphism of seven dimensions of the cementum-enamel junction and the root. Four of them, cementum-enamel junction perimeter; mesiodistal, buccolingual and perimeter at the mid-root level, were investigated for the first time. Also, five measurements combining some of the isolated standard measurements were investigated. Additionally, 10 permanent upper central incisors and 10 permanent lower first molars were experimentally burned at 400°C and 700° C to document heat-induced dimensional changes and serve as comparison with the 900°C sample. Results showed that most of the standard measurements, although presenting significant sex differences, were not reliable enough to allow for correct sex classifications close to 100% both before and after the burning. Nonetheless, the perimeter at the cementum-enamel junction and the combined measurements of the mesiodistal and buccolingual diameters, at the same level, were quite promising in the post-burning analysis with correct sex classifications above 80%. At 900°C, females were slightly more affected by shrinkage in this measure than males thus artificially increasing sexual dimorphism after burning. Therefore, and although additional research is needed, this feature was not discarded as having potential for skeletal sex estimation.

      PubDate: 2017-03-28T10:21:58Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.03.001
       
  • The chronology of the radiographic visibility of the periodontal ligament
           and the root pulp in the lower third molars
    • Authors: M. Timme; W.H. Timme; A. Olze; C. Ottow; S. Ribbecke; H. Pfeiffer; R. Dettmeyer; A. Schmeling
      Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 March 2017
      Source:Science & Justice
      Author(s): M. Timme, W.H. Timme, A. Olze, C. Ottow, S. Ribbecke, H. Pfeiffer, R. Dettmeyer, A. Schmeling
      Eruption and mineralization of third molars are the main criteria for dental age estimation in living adolescents. As the validation of completion of the 18th year of life appears not to be possible with the forensically necessary probability even if all the third molars of a person are completely mineralized, degenerative dental characteristics might be used for this purpose. In previous publications by Olze et al. (2010a,b) the radiographic visibility of the periodontal ligament and the root pulp in lower third molars were suggested as methods for this purpose. The aim of this study was to validate these characteristics in a large study population with a wide age range. In a material of 2346 orthopantomograms of 1167 female and 1179 male Germans aged from 15 to 70years the radiographic visibility of the root pulp in the lower third molars with completed mineralization were studied according to stage classifications proposed by Olze et al. (2010a,b). 1541 orthopantomograms of 705 females and 836 males with a sufficient quality of the radiograph showed at least one third molar. The suitability of the studied characteristics for age estimation in living individuals could be confirmed. Males and females presenting stage 1 of both characteristics were older than 18years of life. Males and females presenting stage 2 of both characteristics were older than 21years of life. The high number of missing third molars in the studied age group (46–60%) must be considered as a limitation of the methods. In further studies the influence of ethnicity, dietary habits and modern dental health care on the characteristics in question should be investigated.

      PubDate: 2017-03-21T08:01:29Z
      DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2017.03.004
       
 
 
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