H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.
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The Emerging Role of Forensic Analysis of Evidence

The airwaves are full of television shows demonstrating the vital relationship between science and truth in the criminal justice system. CSI, NCIS, Etc…

The following story demonsrates the life and death relationhip between achieving truth through science and correcting flaws in an imperfect system. But the careful rules of foresnic analysis MUST be followed..

Firearms Analysis in Murder Conviction Rejected

On the third day of a retrial of an October 2008 Virginia murder conviction, forensics supervisors testified that the forensic firearms analysis in the case was incomplete, did not follow procedure, missed the presence of telltale gunpowder particles, and used inappropriate fabric to judge the firing distance.

On the third day of a retrial of an October 2008 Virginia murder conviction, forensics supervisors testified that the forensic firearms analysis in the case was incomplete, did not follow procedure, missed the presence of telltale gunpowder particles, and used inappropriate fabric to judge the firing distance.

The victim’s body was exhumed to prove the exact length of her arm, a crucial element in the muzzle-to-wound distance estimated by the original forensics investigators to determine whether the death was murder or suicide.

The conclusions and results stemming from the original forensic tests conducted on the .45 caliber weapon found near the body and on a black tube-top she wore the night of her death could not be duplicated, and the analyst who performed the tests has since been let go for failure to follow procedures on other cases.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch

http://www.forensicmag.com/news/firearms-analysis-murder-conviction-rejected
H. Michael’s Take:

Here – the excellent work of the criminal defense lawyers defending the accused, their hard work and study of the complex procedures that must be carefully followed before forensic evidence will be admitted at trial — may save the accused from an unfair conviction… well done. The testing here is called proximity testing.

When you retain your Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer — make certain that he or she goes the extra mile and examines, researches and studies every piece of evidence against you.. as was done here.

Proximity testing measures the remants and spread of the stream of heated particles
(Gun Shot Resiue or GSR) that emerge from the muzzle of a weapon that has been fired at a special cloth designed to measure the distance of the muzzle at the time of discharge.

Gunshot residue (GSR) is principally composed of burnt and unburnt particles from the explosive primer, the propellant, as well as components from the bullet, the cartridge case and the firearm used.

In 1971 John Boehm (né Lawless) presented some micrographs of GSR particles found during the examination of bullet entrance holes using a scanning electron microscope. If the scanning electron microscope is equipped with an X-ray microanalysis (electron microprobe), the chemical elements present in such particles, mainly lead, antimony and barium, can be identified.