The TV show CSI has nothing on this new criminal justice technology that could become standard crime scene procedure in the years to come.
Developed in England, this forensic technique applies an electrical charge to bullet casings to detect areas on which sweat from fingers has corroded the metal. Fingerprints can be discerned in this manner years after the bullet was fired and even if it’s been wiped off.
Few forensic procedures are as controversial as brain fingerprinting, a technique that measures the brain’s response to stimulation. The test determines whether a person has knowledge of an event — specifically, a crime — by recording the brain’s response to various words and/or pictures that flash on a computer screen in front of the subject. Some of the stimuli have specific relation to the case, while others have nothing to do with it, and still others are tangentially related.
This test does not, however, prove a person’s innocence or guilt. It determines whether the person has information about the crime stored in his brain. Unlike lie detection, brain fingerprinting is admissible in court.
Touch DNA hit the national spotlight in 2008, when it was used to clear members of the Ramsey family in the 1996 murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. The process collects DNA from skin cells deposited on an object coming in contact with human skin. Because skin cells aren’t as visible as body fluids, touch DNA is something of a guessing game, as crime scene investigators must make educated guesses as to what object is most likely to have been touched by the culprit.
Sperm-free DNA Testing
Many attempts to identify DNA in sexual assault cases are hampered by the lack of sperm in the semen samples. A new procedure overcomes that hurdle by gathering DNA from other types of cells in sperm-free semen — for instance, skin or immune cells. The new process combines two techniques — laser microdissection (LMD), which extracts individual cells, and fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH), which distinguishes between male and female cells — to identify and isolate male cells for DNA testing.
Laser Scaling Device
The Laser Scaling and Measurement Device for Photographic Images (LSMDPI) is a device that adds scale to photos, aiding in the analysis of crime scene identification photography. The instrument, a box that emits two lasers, was developed by NASA to determine the scale of damage on the Space Shuttle. However, it’s been adapted for use by police and FBI crime scene investigators in the examination of crime scene photos to determine the size of objects on the scene and the distance between various locations.
Antibody Profiling Identification
Antibody Profiling Identification (AbP ID) was developed by a company called Identity Sciences as a fast, accurate means to identify humans from body fluids. Instead of DNA, the test uses auto-antibodies, which rid the body of dead and diseased cells and have their own unique genetic profile. Auto-antibodies are found in blood, urine, semen, saliva, tears and perspiration. AbP ID was developed as a companion to DNA testing, a tool to identify suspects who should be targeted for DNA tests.
3-D Fingerprint Enhancer
Since the depth of fingerprint ridges are just as distinctive as the pattern, new technology that creates 3-D recreations of fingerprints provides a valuable tool in matching fingerprints that might otherwise not be usable in the two-dimensional realm.
Spherical photography creates photorealistic, 3-D images of crime scenes using a 360-degree camera with a fisheye lens and High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, that captures real-world lighting without clipping pixels or bleaching areas within the image. The heightened realism aids in recreating the crime scene for extended analysis and observation after the fact.