A Key Tool for Crime Scene Investigations

Sept. 12, 2013 – A California jury is virtually transported into a vivid 3D crime scene along a rural country road where they are shown compelling forensic evidence which leads them to convict a known gang member of assassinating a sheriff’s deputy; in open court a veteran New Jersey homicide detective uses a single 3D image to completely destroy a defendant’s claim of self-defense in the killing of his neighbor; in Washington D.C. a key witness to a homicide who, due to mental impairment, was previously unable to assist prosecutors in describing a killer’s actions from photos is suddenly able to clearly understand and recall the killer’s actions when shown an immersive, interactive 3D “TruView” of the crime scene.

What do these three homicide prosecutions have in common?

3D laser scanning was deployed by homicide investigators to all of these scenes, and the data collected later proved critical to making the prosecution’s case.

The Versatility of 3D Laser Scanning

3D laser scanning has been widely used by surveyors and engineers for documenting “as-built” conditions of highways, bridges, buildings and process plants for more than a decade. It is state-of-the-art surveying technology that has migrated very successfully into the world of criminal investigations.

When deployed to a crime scene, the 3D laser scanner is set up so that the scanner has a direct line of sight to the evidence being documented (aka “located” or “mapped” in 3D). With one push of a button, the scanner rotates and “freezes” the scene in time. In just a few minutes, it is able collect millions of high-accuracy “points” (aka “coordinates”) that when viewed collectively are known as a “point cloud”. As a second step, the scanner captures panoramic photography of the scene. The resulting data (which is viewed on a computer after downloading) is a true color, extremely detailed, rich, vivid and immersive 3D environment that jurors find quite compelling.

A True Picture of the Crime Scene

Scanning provides a true and accurate representation of your crime scene as discovered before any evidence (or what may turn out to be key evidence later!) has been moved. For this reason and many others, 3D laser scanning is quickly becoming the new standard of care for documenting homicide scenes with fidelity. Watch for it; it’s coming soon to a courtroom near you.

For expert guidance on how to improve your crime and crash scene documentation, please contact us.

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