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Monday, January 5, 2009

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Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
by Kasey Wertheim
Carbon County Man Arrested for 16 Arsons
MSNBC - Dec 30, 2008
State Police Fire Marshal David Klitsch said, "A latent fingerprint was recovered and subsequently part of the incendiary device was sent away for DNA ...
Christina Barber, 36, brought dedication to career and family
Orlando Sentinel, FL - Dec 27, 2008
She found a career about which she was passionate: fingerprint analysis. For more than a decade, she worked major cases for the Volusia County Sheriff's ...
Police solve decades-old ‘whodunit’ murder of gay man
Gay and Lesbian Times, CA - Dec 24, 2008
They also found fingerprints and a palm print, according to Metcalf’s 13-page arrest warrant. Immediately after finding Jackson’s body, San Diego Police put ...
CSI Lawrence: Fingerprints lifted from shards of glass
Eagle Tribune, MA - Dec 21, 2008
"I dusted the window ... and found some latents which did have some ridge quality..." Detective Carlos Vieira wrote in his report.

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    Finally signed up on Facebook, and even created a group called "Complete Latent Print Examiners on Facebook". If you are a Facebook member, add me as your friend and I'll write on your wall and/or come over and join the group! To think... after all these years and I'm just getting into social networking - I like the more personal side to balance the professional. And I consider you all my friends, so check out my profile:  Oh yeah - you might want to do this from home tonight instead of from the office. ;)


    Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group (FIG) page with FIG #76; Moisture distortion by S. Siegel of Texas.  You can send your example (anonymously if you desire) of unique distortion through Charlie Parker:  For discussion, visit the forum FIG thread.

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    we start off 2009 with a light Weekly Detail from the Chat Board.


    • A thread about the importance of good crime-scene documentation!

      Started by Charles Parker on 31 Dec 2008 01:03 pm

      Can anyone from Indiana enlighten some of us readers with more details of the case listed below besides the "wire report".

      Burglary conviction overturned on fingerprint evidence

      Wire Report

      SOUTH BEND - The Indiana Court of Appeals has overturned a man's burglary conviction, ruling that even through his fingerprints were found on a window and in a home's kitchen it was not enough evidence to support a conviction.

      In Monday's ruling, the appeals court wrote that although prosecutors presented enough evidence that a burglary had occurred, they did not present enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Larry Weathers had committed that crime.

      A St. Joseph County jury convicted Weathers in April of felony burglary for a May 12, 2007, break-in at a residence in South Bend.

      Police found Weather's fingerprints on one window and in various areas of the home's kitchen.

      But the appeals court judges wrote that the jury could not "reasonably infer" that Weathers broke into the home because it was unclear from a police officer's testimony where the fingerprints had come from on the window.

      In other words, the court found that none of Weathers' fingerprints suggested he had illegally forced his way into the home.

      Weathers is serving a 20-year prison sentence on the conviction, according to the Web site of the Indiana Department of Correction.

      Charles Parker
      Cedar Creek, TXCharles Parker


      Re: Enlightment
      by rbostrum on 31 Dec 2008 02:08 pm

      Maybe someone with 1st-hand knowledge can add to the discussion but, until that happens, I suggest reading the published opinion. It is online at

      Interesting example of judicial reasoning and logic. A few quotes may clarify the situation.

      "Weathers’s argument revisits the question presented to our supreme court in Mediate v. State, 498 N.E.2d 391 (Ind. 1986), namely, “what quantum of additional evidence, if any, is necessary to sustain a conviction based principally upon a fingerprint?”


      "Because the State failed to prove that Weathers’s fingerprints were recovered from the interior, wood-frame window, we are left with a situation where the fingerprint evidence “does not readily indicate a forced or illegal entry.” Mediate, 498 N.E.2d at 394. Our supreme court indicated in Mediate that such a case requires additional evidence to permit the jury to infer the defendant was the burglar."


      "But the State did not present any evidence beyond Weathers’s fingerprints, and it therefore follows that insufficient evidence supports Weathers’s burglary conviction."

      Basically, it seems there was no issue with the fingerprints being present, nor that they were from Weathers. It sounds to me that it was a matter of insufficient documentation of the crime-scene; that is, where were the prints actually found? The officer wrote "Kitchen Window" on the charts but couldn't say if they were from the inside or outside of the window. Under Indiana law, the failure of the officer to provide a precise location was sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt such that, without supplementary evidence, the presence of the prints alone did not support the original conviction.

      Brent Ostrum,
      Sr Scientific Advisor - Forensic Document Examination
      Canada Border Servies Agency, LSSD
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canadarbostrum


      Re: Enlightment
      by Charles Parker on 31 Dec 2008 02:23 pm

      Brent----Thanks that helped clear some of it up.

      The Wire Report stated off the window and from the kitchen but in the published opinion there is no mention about in the kitchen just off the window in which the officer could not state if they were inside or outside.

      The kitchen part in the 'Wire Report' had me going for a few minutes.

      Thanks for providing the opinion--------Something to hang on to for teaching.

      Charles Parker
      Cedar Creek, TXCharles Parker


      Re: Enlightment
      by Gerald Clough on 31 Dec 2008 02:52 pm

      And, as it must be, it is more about ruling on a matter of law than whether or not the appeals court believes he did it. There are several special factors in this case that can be viewed in combination. The poor documentation is one where the effect of the ambiguous location of the point of entry prints is directly addressed in the guiding Indiana cases that are cited. The State's case is further diminished by failure to properly record the location of other prints. Although they don't speak directly to the point, it may well have been in the panel's mind that when evidence is so poorly documented, a defendant cannot really be confronted with the evidence in a way that permits it's value to be argued. And, by the same reasoning, the jury is deprived of the ability to properly judge the weight of the evidence. As they point out, the print evidence, flawed as it is, might have been more meaningful if presented along with something else. It would, for instance, have completed a case where the defendant was found with the stolen property by putting him at the scene. No problem there with the jury finding the he was clearly a party, whether he himself entered or not.

      While it's clear that his prints must mean something, it's like trying to come to court with uncertified records. I can testify that I went to X and they provided be with records, but unless I can produce the custodian of records to testify or a business record affidavit, it's just words on paper. In this case, they're just prints on cards. The evidentiary prints were all from "Kitchen Window," and the officer couldn't say where any one of them were from. One of the lifts, we can reasonable presume also from "Kitchen Window" excluded the defendant. Which of them came from inside? Which of them came from outside? The officer can't say.

      From the court's discussion of their cited cases, it's clear that, had the prints been properly documented, presumably some of the defendant's being found on the inside, they would have deferred to the jury and supported the conviction. Really not an instructive case about the use of fingerprints, other than the need to do at least the barest minimum documentation. And the case is not going to be used as precedent, both on account of its being a memorandum opinion and because it just doesn't make any new law. It's a plain finding of facts.

      Good work on the part of his appellate counsel.

      Gerald Clough
      "Nothing has any value, unless you know you can give it up."


      Re: Enlightment
      by Charles Parker on 31 Dec 2008 06:05 pm

      Gerald---as usual a reasonable response and I am going to steal a few lines from you.

      No one likes to see a person that has committed a crime to get away----but that only means we as a profession need to be on our toes and treat each case as it is going to court. Taking short cuts and being complacent is a road that is very rocky and just might overturn the apple cart.

      Cannot fault the courts on this one-----someone else has to take the responsibility for that.

      Have a very Good New Year.

      Charles Parker


      Re: Enlightment
      by Shane Turnidge on 01 Jan 2009 07:19 pm

      Happy New Year everyone,

      Charlie, this subject [Charles wrote> Taking short cuts and being complacent is a road that is very rocky and just might overturn the apple cart.] could be a month long course taught anywhere in the world. I would argue it is the most significant challenge facing our discipline today.

      Shane Turnidge
      "You're only as good as your last Ident."

      Re: Enlightment
      by Charles Parker on 01 Jan 2009 07:36 pm

      That and good and I mean GOOD quality exemplars.

      Do not get me started on the poor quality exemplars as I will never shut up.

      May everyone have a very good new year. May all of your latent print cases have 35 clear and concise ridge characteristics; may all your exemplars be fully rolled with the best contrast, and may all your court cases plead out five minutes after the defense attorney has read your report. May officers not contaminate your crime scenes or leave their prints on the evidence. May your supervisor take a long vacation and not get into your business. May all your cases be short so as to spend more quality time on CLPEX. May every case you run in AFIS is a hit and every hit becomes the 'CASE' of the year and you get the keys to the city and a 45% across the board pay raise.

      Have I left anything out.

      Happy New Year

      "Fingerprints Rule and Others Drool"

      Charles Parker
      Cedar Creek, TX


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