by D.H. Garrison, Jr.
Originally published in the Association of Firearm Toolmark Examiners Journal, Oct. 1993.
Just because a shot was fired, and just because someone was injured or died as a result of the shooting, and just because a shooting reconstruction was completed…this does not mean that the expert can render an opinion about the intent behind the bullet thus fired.
While many an attorney, whether prosecution or defense, wants to “prove” the intent or lack thereof to a jury, and sometimes tries to use a expert witness to accomplish that end, this does not mean that the shooting reconstruction expert has any scientific basis whatsoever to state an opinion as to what was or was not the intention of the shooter at the moment of the shooting. Intent, after all, is usually an “ultimate issue” and, thus, the purview of the jury, the finders of fact, and cannot properly be addressed by the expert. Continue reading
by Daryl W. Clemens
This article originally appeared in the MAFS newsletter, 27(2), April 1998.
Crime Scene Reconstruction- The use of scientific methods, physical evidence, deductive reasoning and their interrelationships to gain explicit knowledge of the series of events that surround the commission of a crime.
-Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction, The Scene, 4(1), Jan 1997, p. 2.
Criminal Profiling- The application of psychological theory to the analysis and reconstruction of the forensic evidence that relates to an offender’s crime scenes, victims and behaviors.
– Turvey, B., “CP101: An Introduction to Criminal Profiling”, Online Course,
http://www.corpus-delicti.com, May 1997.
While both of these activities may appear to be similar and are in fact related, it is important to note that they are not the same. The difference between the two is most easily understood by looking at which questions about the crime they attempt to answer.1,2,3,4 Crime Scene Reconstruction looks at the physical evidence and attempts to determine “What happened?” and “How did it happen?”.5,6 Criminal Profiling looks at the physical evidence and the reconstruction and attempts to determine “Why may this have happened?” and “What does that tell us about Who may have done it?”.7 It is important to keep in mind that only those directly involved in the crime know for sure what happened and why, and they may be unable or unwilling to say. 8,9
By Dean H. Garrison, Jr.
This article originally appeared in the MAFS newsletter April 1996.
“I tend not to try to determine why people do things at crime scenes.”
-Criminalist Charles Morton
California v Menedez II, Trial transcript 12-5-95
Crime scene reconstruction may answer the question of where a victim was standing when an axe hit him or who stepped in the pool of blood by the door or what caused the revolver’s hammer to fall or when the third shot hit the car window or how the knife ended up out on the patio, but the crime scene reconstructionist cannot answer the ultimate question, the final question that tugs at everyone’s mind, the all-encompassing, all-seeing, all-knowing question of WHY did the crime happen? This may account for the fact that attorneys (for either side) very seldom ask “Why?” questions. Continue reading
By John E. Douglas, Ed.D. Special Agent
Chief of the Investigative Support Unit FBI Academy
Served as Honors Intern FBI Academy
This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1992.
Most crime scenes tell a story. And like most stories, crime scenes have
characters, a plot, a beginning, a middle, and hopefully, a conclusion. However,
in contrast to authors who lead their readers to a predetermined ending,
the final disposition of a crime scene depends on the investigators assigned
to the case. The investigators’ abilities to analyze the crime scene and
to determine the who, what, how, and why govern how the crime scene story
To ensure a satisfactory ending, that is, the apprehension and prosecution
of the violent crime offender, investigators must realize that the outcome
depends on their insight into the dynamics of human behavior. Speech patterns,
writing styles, verbal and nonverbal gestures, and other traits and patterns
give shape to human behavior. These individual characteristics work in concert
to cause each person to act, react, function, or perform in a unique and
specific way. This individualistic behavior usually remains consistent,
regardless of the activity being performed. Continue reading
By Robert R. Hazelwood, M.S.
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime
Park Elliott Dietz, M.D.,
Forensic Psychiatrist Newport Beach, California
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
and Biobehavioral Sciences
University of California at Los Angeles
Janet Warren, D.S.W.
Institute of Law Psychiatry and Public Policy
of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia
This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,
Any investigator who has taken a statement from a tortured victim or who
has worked the crime scene of a sexually sadistic homicide will never forget
the experience. Human cruelty reveals itself in many kinds of offenses, but
seldom more starkly than in the crimes of sexual sadists.
This article describes the more commonly encountered actions of sexual sadists
and differentiates sexual sadism from other cruel acts. It also describes
the common characteristics of sexually sadistic crimes and offers investigators
suggestions that they should follow when confronted with the crimes of the
sexually sadistic offender. Continue reading
By Robert R. Hazelwood, M.S.
Special Agent Behavioral Science Instruction/Research Unit Quantico, VA
Janet Warren, D.S.W.
Institute of Psychiatry and Law University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
This Article Originally Appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1990.
From 1984 to 1986, FBI Special Agents assigned to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) interviewed 41 men who were responsible for raping 837 victims. Previous issues of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin provided an introduction to this research1 and the characteristics of the rapists and their victims.2 This article, however, describes the behavior of these serial rapists during and following the commission of their sexual assaults. The information presented is applicable only to the men interviewed; it is not intended to be generalized to all men who rape.
The majority of the sexual attacks (55-61%) committed by these men were premeditated across their first, middle, and last rapes, while fewer rapists reported their crimes as being impulsive (15-22%) or opportunistic (22-24%).Although no comparable data on serial rape are available, it is probable that the premeditation involved in these crimes is particularly characteristic of these serial rapists. It is also probable that this premeditation is reflective of their preferential interest in this type of crime and largely accounts for their ability to avoid detection. Continue reading