|Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 04:30 am: ||
I am in the UK, helping a man convicted of murder 13 years ago. The Crown alleged that the body of the victim was carried in the boot of the car owned by the two convicted men (father and son.) The found the son's fingerprint on the outside of the boot. No problem with that, he was the one who mainly used the car, and often went into the boot. The problem was that according to the prosecution, the two adjoining prints they found were in blood. One print was visible, but not identifiable, one next to it was barely visible, enhanced with a DAB test, and identified as that of the convicted man. The owner of the print, now out of jail after serving 13 years and still vehemently protesting his innocence, is quite happy that they are his prints, and says they could have got there quite innocently. I have sought expert advice on the error rate of DAB and understand that it is about 95% reliable, but that it reacts to all blood, not just human. Have I understood this correctly? The convicted man says he often went shopping for meat, and brought it home in bags which sometimes leaked, and I wonder if this could account for a small amount of blood on his finger, and consequently the print. What I would also like to know is how long after a print is made can it be enhanced using a reagent such as DAB? In other words, could this have been a print made perfectly innocently a few days or even weeks before? I should add that although the investigators grouped smears of blood on the boot as the group same as the victim, the blood on the print was never analysed. I am concerned that the tests carried out by the prosecution destroyed the blood and the prints, which were at no stage examined by the defence. I also understand that if a reaction to DAB is obtained by a material other that blood, ie some vegetables or sweat, the reaction is different. This concerns me only slightly, but I have always wondered why the only photograph of the print taken by the investigating team is in black and white. The print is important because it is the only piece of evidence against this convicted man that separated him from his brother, whom he was with all evening (no dispute about that.) The brother was acquitted by the judge at the end of the prosecution case as there was no evidence against him. I won't bore you with the reasons why I believe this man is innocent - they are extensive, include other forensic discrepancies, and were gathered by myself and a colleague during five years work on the case. I should just say that we have experts who contest whether the body was ever carried in this car at all. The convicted men say the car was used by others, and indeed a number of unidentified prints were found on the vehicle. Thank you very much for any help you can give.
Concerned And Confused
|Posted on Sunday, August 04, 2002 - 04:17 pm: ||
Thank you for your prompt reply.
I am very skeptical of his story and wanted to hear from a knowledgable source whether his claim is even possible, aside from the implications if true.
I made no referrence to his possible "motives" only stating that he had no legitimate reason to touch anything other than the light switch. Meaning if he in fact did, he is obviously guilty.
I felt from the start that his story was just bull but now.... I know it is.
Pat A. Wertheim
|Posted on Sunday, August 04, 2002 - 01:20 pm: ||
Is it "scientifically" (whatever you mean by that) possible to transfer a latent print? In a word -- NO! Theoretically, it it is "possible," but extensive experiments conducted by myself and others over the past century lead one to conclude that it is virtually, if not "scientifically" (as you phrase it) impossible. There is a century's worth of published literature on the topic of fingerprint forgery, which is what you are referring to. Although it is a favorite plot device of fiction authors dating from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1894, in reality, there is only one documented case of fingerprint forgery, and that was in 1946 using the mold-cast method, not a transfer. However, "forgery" is not to be confused with "fabrication," which, unfortunately, is not that rare in the US (see "The Fingerprint that Lied" from a 1976 Readers' Digest article, the David Harding case with the NY State Police, Herm Wiggins case in San Diego, and so on ad nauseum). But in my extensive research, fingerprint forgery such as the hypothetical transfer your "friend" is charging the police with, is nothing more than an excuse to try and get out of a well-deserved conviction. And while you imply he had no motive in stealing a diamond ring while working as a mainenance man, come on, "wake up and smell the coffee."
Concerned And Confused
|Posted on Sunday, August 04, 2002 - 01:23 am: ||
I know a guy who was doing a job in a tenant's apartment. (changing a light switch)
He stands accused of stealing a diamond ring from a jewelry box inside a dresser drawer.
He, of course had no need or business touching the dresser or the box.
The police claim to have gotten his prints from the drawer and/or jewelry box. He claims that it's a setup and that they must have transfered his prints from the light switch plate (smooth plastic) to the incriminating surfaces.
I am baffled by the whole thing and I just want to know if it is scientifically *possible*.