Blood Spatter Free Essay

Introduction to Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Blood is important in the lives of any human and even animals, it is a body fluid that transports nutrients and oxygen to cells where they are needed and also transports metabolic wastes away from these cells. Blood is an essential fluid for needed for living, without there is inevitable death of the cells, tissues, organs, and systems leading to the eventual death of the human or animal. This makes blood an essential form of evidence for criminal investigation and an important tool for a forensic scientist. The pattern of blood spattered around a crime scene is called a bloodstain pattern and could contain relevant information about the sequence of events that may have surrounded the victim’s death or injuries (Nelson, 2018). In this paper, the word blood spatter would be used interchangeably with bloodstain pattern. In order to determine the cause of death or injuries using bloodstain pattern, there is a need to introduce special forensic scientists called bloodstain analysts, these are the ones responsible for analyzing the bloodstain pattern and coming up with results.

Blood behaves according to specific scientific principles, therefore, it requires a well-trained bloodstain pattern analyst to gather information and assist the investigators in recreating the sequence of events that may have led to the bloodshed (Forensicsciencesimplified.org, n.d). Bloodstain pattern analysis is a process of recreating the actions that led to a bloodshed at a crime scene through interpretation of bloodstains and its patterns. Bloodstain analysts do so by analyzing the size, shape, distribution, and location of the stains in order to generate opinions about what happened or did not happen. Bloodstain pattern analysts make use of certain biological principles like the behavior of the blood, physics, to determine the cohesion, capillary action, and velocity, and mathematics for determination of geometry, distance, and angle in order to aid the investigators provide answers to knowing where the blood came from, the cause of the wounds on the victim, the direction from which the victim was wounded, the position of the victim’s perpetrator, the number of perpetrators, and also to aid in witness statements.

Bloodstain pattern analysis is used worldwide by scientists, police officials, and medics. There is an organization for bloodstain pattern analyst called the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts (IABPA) and it allows various forms of membership (Brodbeck, 2012). Bloodstain pattern analysis has been used for centuries but a systematic study of bloodstain pattern analysis was first published in 1895 by Eduard Piotrowski from the University of Krakow, Poland about the formation, form, direction, and spread of blood stains as a result of blunt force trauma to the head (Brodbeck, 2012) and one can say bloodstain pattern analysis originated from this study. He did so by documenting the bloodstains from beating rabbits to death in a room covered by white sheets (Brodbeck, 2012). He also discovered that bloodstains often appear from a blood source, there are further researches that were carried out on bloodstain patterns from a blood source and would be discussed later in this paper. Several other publications tried to explain individual aspects of bloodstain patterns but none led to a systematic analysis (Brodbeck, 2012). It was later understood that the angle of the spatter can be calculated using trigonometry.

Another origin of bloodstain pattern analysis was from the Samuel Sheppard case. Samuel Sheppard was convicted of murdering his wife Marilyn Sheppard. She was found murdered in her Bay village her husband who had claimed that she was killed by a bushy-haired intruder (Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, n.d), he was later acquitted ten years later on grounds of lack of evidence. P.L Kirk an expert witness from the University of Berkeley who testified during the trial went on to develop a research project based on the case, it was his analysis of the bloodstain pattern in Sheppard’s home that was believed to exonerate Sheppard. This was then adopted by the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts (IABPA) and the continued development and use of Bloodstain pattern analysis (Brodbeck, 2012). Bloodstain pattern or blood spatter is an important technique for gathering evidence at a crime scene. One of the most important uses of bloodstain pattern analysis is to support witness statements as well as post-mortem and laboratory findings.

Bloodstain pattern analysis involves understanding the basic properties of blood, blood contains plasma, serum, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and proteins. Blood remains liquid in the body except in condition where the patient is suffering from a disease that leads to a blood clot in the body, however, the whole blood does not clot in the body in this diseased condition just a portion of it. When blood comes out of the body, however, it certainly clots and this can tell the bloodstain pattern analyst how long the attack lasted or how long the victim bled. Knowing the type of bloodstain could help to discover the instrument used in carrying out the crime. There are ranges of bloodstains depending on the amount of blood and pattern, it could be a pool of blood and/or little spots on the suspect’s body or clothing. At crime scenes, it is required that bloodstains are analyzed as soon as possible but the analysis can still be carried out weeks or even months later after the crime has been committed if the bloodstains are well preserved (Brodbeck, 2012). This, however, depends on the surface of the bloodstains’ location and the weather conditions during the crime (Brodbeck, 2012). It is necessary that the bloodstain analyst visits the crime scene in order to understand the location. This is important because it helps the bloodstain analysts assess how the blood traveled within the given space (Brodbeck, 2012). A Bloodstain analyst is required at the early stages of an investigation. At the crime scene, the standard today is the use of forensic lights for detecting blood stains. Chemical substances like luminol and fluorescein can detect stains while substances such as leuco-crystal violet can be used to enhance stains (Brodbeck, 2012). The bloodstain analyst should document everything in his or her report, this can be used in a trial at the court. Blood shows surface tension and cohesive forces that like the surface of the outer skin. If a blood drops at a 90-degree angle, it forms a near-perfect spherical shape. A smooth surface like tile causes no disruption to the spherical shape, however, if a blood drops on a rough surface like a concrete, the surface tension is disrupted and the blood breaks apart. The number of stains location, as well as the volume, can help the analyst gather the required information. Analysts may face challenges from stains that come from multiple sources. Samples of bloodstains can be collected by cutting away the stained surfaces, taking photographs of the stains, and drying and packaging the stained objects used by high-quality cameras, cutting instruments, and measuring instruments. The high-resolution cameras are used to take photographs of the crime scene, rulers and scales are also used to get the accurate measurements of the bloodstain patterns.

There are various techniques used to analyze a bloodstain pattern, a modern procedure for analyzing individual blood spots which involve estimating the body’s 2D location on the floorplan when the impact occurred (Shen, Brostow, and Cipolla, 2006), this allows blood spatter to be analyzed automatically and could prove to be an accessible alternative that can be used at crime scenes. Bloodstain patterns can be used as evidence for violent acts such as assault, abduction, homicide, vehicular accidents, and suicide. Albalooshi and Eltabie (2015) presented a case study on how bloodstain pattern analysis was useful in providing evidence of a road traffic accident. In this case, there was a discrepancy of findings between the forensic examiner and the forensic DNA analysis to determine who was driving the car at the time of the accident.

The accident involved a 22-year-old man who died immediately and a 31-year-old woman that survived the accident. Due to this discrepancy, the forensic examiner carried out a bloodstain pattern analysis on the driver’s seat allowing the resolution of the discrepancy and enabling the investigators to identify the driver correctly. Bloodstain pattern analysis has become a routine analysis in forensic science, hence the need to teach and carry out continuous research on the discipline. Attinger, Liu, Bybee, and Brabanter (2018) tried to establish a new set of data for analyzing bloodstain patterns that would aid researchers to test crime scene reconstruction model, and also provide a more accurate bloodstain pattern analysis method. It can also be used for teaching and instructional purposes (Attinger et al, 2018). They carried out their research by generating a controlled impact situation similar to a forensic beating situation, a data set of 61 blood spatter patterns were generated. This experiment was done in order to determine the geometry and speed the impact of a solid object would have on a blood source (Attinger et al, 2018). The result showed that blood droplets travel at a distance towards a poster board sheet creating a spatter just like Eduard’s findings.

Further researches have tried to correct the subjective science behind bloodstain pattern analysis by generating an equation that can be applied at crime scenes to determine the position of a bloodstain to replace the existing and outdated subjective method (Larkin & Banks, 2012). Blood spatter analysis often help investigators determine the kind of weapon used, the general area where the attack occurred, and to track the positions of the victims. Laan et al (2015) carried out a study to determine the accuracy of estimating the location of origin using gravity and drag into the reconstruction process something the bloodstain pattern analysts ignore. Their study also helps other analysts and investigators determine the correct position of the victim at the time of the crime, whether the victim was sitting or standing, and also the possibility of connecting the wounds on the victim’s body to the patterns of the stains, these are important for crime scene reconstruction. Another way to determine the point of origin of blood spatter an important process in reconstructing the sequence of events that occurred during a crime involving blood spatter is the use of laser scanning technology. A technique that has been shown to be accurate in comparison to reports of other software (Hakim & Liscio, 2015).  Bloodstain pattern analysis would continue to be employed by investigators as it is believed that it offers evidence that DNA results cannot prove. Over the years, there have been ups and downs about the credibility of using bloodstain pattern analysis as an expert testimony in court, this is because of the subjective nature of the discipline. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences found some deficiencies in bloodstain pattern analysis, they believed that the opinions of bloodstain analysts are subjective rather than scientific (Smith, 2018). Bloodstain pattern analysis is accepted as a reliable evidence in court, in Texas, it is required that a bloodstain analyst is to be accredited.

Blood Spatter can be from gunshots or remnants from swinging objects. It can be analyzed by bloodstain analysts. Bloodstain analysts are required to have some degree in forensic science to be considered an expert in the field. They are also required to have a basic knowledge of biology and/or physics. It is essential that the analysts work together with investigators in order to aid in reconstructing the sequence of events that might have led to the crime. The origin of bloodstain pattern analysis was from Eduard Piotrowski who conducted a study on blood spatters from blunt force trauma to the head, his work was published in Vienna in 1895. Bloodstain pattern analysis was also used in the exoneration of Dr. Samuel Sheppard which established the use of bloodstain pattern analysis as evidence in court. Bloodstain pattern analysis has a place in the criminal justice system and has shown by the numerous researches in this paper, more ways are being studied to perfect its use at crime scenes and its ability to generate evidence to avoid discrepancies. Bloodstain pattern analysts can be found at almost every crime scene investigation. They study patterns at the scene and also profile blood in the laboratory as well. Reconstruction of the crime scenes by the bloodstain analyst remains important in generating evidence, Criminal Defense and Prosecution rely on this reconstruction as evidence to corroborate what they think might have happened. Analysis and reconstruction of the crime scene link a variety of logical scientific explanations in order to understand the sequence of events that occurred at the scene as the events unfolded (Rooker, 2017). Blood spatter analysis is important in modern day criminology and forensic science, it can help investigators find evidence of difficult cases. The techniques involved in bloodstain analysis are becoming diverse that would allow more accurate analysis of a blood-spattered crime scene.

References

Attinger, D., Liu, Y., Bybee, T., & De Brabanter, K. (2018). A data set of bloodstain patterns for teaching and research in bloodstain pattern analysis: Impact beating spatters. Data in brief18, 648-654.

Albalooshi, Y. M., & Eltabie, M. A. (2015). The Importance of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis in the Investigation of Road Traffic Accidents: A Case Report= أهمية تحليل أنماط بقع الدم في التحقيق في حوادث الطرق المرورية: تقرير حالة. Arab Journal of Forensic Sciences and Forensic Medicine230(2475), 1-5.

Brodbeck, S. (2012). Introduction to bloodstain pattern analysis. SIAK Journal-Journal of Police Science and Practice2, 51-57.

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (n,d). Sheppard Murder Case. Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved on 9 December 2018 from https://case.edu/ech/articles/s/sheppard-murder-case

Forensicsimplified.org (n,d). A Simplified Guide to Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. Retrieved on 9 December 2018 from http://www.forensicsciencesimplified.org/blood/how.html

Hakim, N., & Liscio, E. (2015). Calculating point of origin of blood spatter using laser scanning technology. Journal of forensic sciences60(2), 409-417.

Larkin, B. A., & Banks, C. E. (2013). Bloodstain pattern analysis: looking at impacting blood from a different angle. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences45(1), 85-102.

Laan, N., de Bruin, K. G., Slenter, D., Wilhelm, J., Jermy, M., & Bonn, D. (2015). Bloodstain Pattern Analysis: implementation of a fluid dynamic model for position determination of victims. Scientific reports5, 11461. doi:10.1038/srep11461

Nelson, E (2018). Bloodstain Analysis. Forensic Science Online. Retrieved on 9 December 2018 from https://www.forensicscienceonline.org/bloodstain-analysis/#context/api/listings/prefilter.

 

Rooker, J (2017). History of Blood Spatter in Criminal Courts. The History of Blood Spatter Evidence In DUI and Criminal Courts. The Law Office of Jonathan Rooker. Retrieved on 9 December 2018 from https://www.jonathanrooker.com/history-of-blood-splatter-in-criminal-courts

Shen, A. R., Brostow, G. J., & Cipolla, R. (2006). Toward automatic blood spatter analysis in crime scenes.

Smith, L (2017). How an Unproven Forensic Science Spread Through the Criminal Justice System. ProPublica. Retrieved on 9 December 2018 from https://features.propublica.org/blood-spatter/blood-spatter-criminal-justice-courts-forensic-evidence/

 

 

 

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[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

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