Forensic Gun Shot Wound Analysis, Essay Example

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Essay

One of the major jobs of a forensic pathologist is to investigate wounds and determine how it was inflicted and what caused the infliction.  The forensic pathologist can perform a scientific analysis on the wound and reenact the event.  In addition, the forensic pathologist is able to suggest from their analysis if the event was self-defense or if the wound was received before or after death of the individual.  (Forensic Panel)  Bullet wounds are indicated to account for about two-thirds of the death by homicides within the United States. (Forensic Panel)  Forensic pathologists are therefore used to determine all differences in gunshot wounds, such as contact (skin to gun), near contact, medium range, or distant gunshot wounds.  The forensic pathologist uses technology and previous experience to determine details in the case, such as the direction of the bullet, range, sequence or number of fires, the path of the bullet after firing, the entry and exit, the evaluation of entry and exit wounds, the make and model of the gun used, the specific manner in the death of the individual and the probability of surviving after a particular gunshot wound.  (Forensic Panel)  This paper presents the description of the explanation from an expert witness forensic pathologist for the types of forensic evidence used in a case of gunshot wounds in order to determine the distance from gun and body.

As an expert witness forensic pathologist for this trial involving firearm analysis, I have used different types of forensics analyses in order to determine the distance from the gun to the body of the victim.  The first two pieces of evidence that I evaluated was gunshot residue analysis and firearm analysis in order to determine whether or not the gunshot wound found on the victim occurred from suicide or was a homicide.  Three different tests methods were used to analyze gunshot residue on the victim and suspect, neurton activation, flameless atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS), and scanning electron microscopic-energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDX). These methods analyzed for metallic elements on the back of the hand that is suspected of firing the gun. In addition, this method can determine if the gunshot was on the palm of the hand, indicating a defensive gesture for the victim. The second part of the analysis was to find the distance of the gun from the victim’s body.  (Mahoney Criminal Defense Group, 2012)

In the firearm analysis, if the firearm was held against the skin, and the wound was in the right temple and the victim is right handed, this might suggest a suicide; however, in order to determine the possibility of a homicide, the location of the wound, angle of the bullet’s trajectory and the absence of the weapon at the scene of the crime can indicate the possibility of a homicide and exclude the possibility of the death from suicide.  For instance, most suicide cases do not have gunshot wounds through clothing and the victim is usually holding onto the gun due to what is called cadaveric spasm in suicide.  (Forensic Resources, ltd 2009) In regard to firearm analysis, the bullet can be associated with a specific firearm.  In addition, the bullet from the scene of the crime can be matched to a suspect’s firearm.  Furthermore, the gunshot residue can be analyzed on the victim or suspect skin.  (Forensic Resources ltd, 2009)

The particulars to the wound are examined as well.  In a hard-contact wound, the muzzle of the gun is held against the skin and there is the entrance to the skin can be examined for powder and blackening around the edges of the wound.  In a loose-contact wound, the muzzle of the gun is held loosely against the skin and the soot is found around the zone of the entrance to the wound.  In an angled-contact wound, the angle of the gun is acute to the skin and the soot radiates outward.  If the gun was held at a near distance, the muzzle did not contact the skin, but the powder leaves a powder tattooing near the wound.  If the gun is held at an intermediate range, the muzzle of the gun is held away from the victim, but closes enough to still leave a powder tattoo with red lesions around the entrance of the wound.  A distant wound from a gunshot doesn’t leave any marks, but a perforation in the skin.  (Mahoney Criminal Defense Group, 2012)

References

Forensic Panel. Web. Available at:  http://forensicpanel.com/expert_services/pathology/criminal_law/wound_analysis.html

Forensic Resources ltd.  (2009) Forensic Science: Gunshot Wound Analysis and Gunshot Residue Investigation. Web.  Available at:http://www.forensicresources.co.uk/blog-54-ForensicScienceGunshotWoundAnalysis

Mahoney Criminal Defense Group.  (2012).  Gunshot Wounds. Available at: http://www.relentlessdefense.com/forensics/gunshot-wounds/

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