What If You’re Wrong?

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement, – Hebrews 9:27

Processing Sequence Paper

A match between a person and physical evidence collected from a crime scene does not prove guilt of a crime but presence at the location of offense. However, in conjunction with other evidence, it can make a case. Latent (hidden or invisible) evidence overlooked or destroyed by improper processing can lose a case.

In crime scene investigation the manner chosen to uncover evidence, such as latent prints, is decided prior to the search. The methods vary per the type of scene searched and evidence sought. Subsequent analysis and comparison of discovered physical evidence can lead to a match with a suspect.

So what if that decision is wrong?

Steps in Examining Physical Evidence for Latent Prints

I have written before about processing items for latent prints using fingerprint powders. Those techniques are effective for only certain kinds of evidence. Their use on other types will either fail to enhance (reveal or make visible) or simply destroy a print. Alternate techniques use chemicals to enhance latent prints.

Lab and field personnel have used sequential charts to effectively process evidence for years. The first step on each is visual examination. Each step after targets different components of the latent print and the substrate examined. Processing out of sequence hinders or eliminates success. For example, referencing the chart to the left, in processing paper for latent  prints:

  • Iodine fumes can be used to enhance fatty oils (they appear dark brown) but do not affect amino acids in latent prints.
  • Ninhydrin can be used to enhance amino acids (they appear dark purple) but will destroy fatty oils in latent prints.
  • Using ninhydrin prior to iodine fuming eliminates what iodine might have yielded.
  • Instead of having two chances to enhance a print only one remains.

I have learned valuable lessons seeing prideful decisions based on a CSI’s believing their personal knowledge greater than those who have come before them. Their decisions, more often than not, turn out bad.

  • Procedures exist because mistakes, very likely the ones you will make, have been made before.
  • Learning from mistakes of others is better than learning from your own.
  • Considerate examination and processing of evidence has the potential to prove a person innocent or guilty of the highest crimes. Making the examiner directly or indirectly responsible for drastically affecting or ending a person’s life.
  • If you decide to skip a step be very, very sure because, if you are wrong, the blame falls on you and you alone.
  • That decision can drastically affect your life.

Steps in examining spiritual evidence

I am not aware of any sequential processing charts to guide you through examination of spiritual latency. I suppose I might try my hand at making one in a future post. However, the mistake of letting one’s pride-in-self override the experience of those who have come before is the same.

There are plenty of people, theologies, and ideologies to tell you what decision to make. We all must decide to make a choice, or not decide, and choose nolo contendere (no contest).

So what if the decision is wrong?

You now know the potential end results not following steps in examining physical evidence. I seriously request you look at the end results of NOT following the steps of finding truth in the world’s major religions.

I have looked at each of them and found Christianity to have the simplest end results. Death brings you immediately into the presence of the Creator. The choice you have made to believe: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was sent by the Creator, and did die as sacrificial payment for your sins (past-present-and future), did rise from the grave, and did ascend back to heaven to reign over us; brings you eternal life without pain, sorrow, or hardship. The choice to not believe sends you to an eternity outside of God’s love, in pain, sorrow, and hardship. Pretty straight forward, no do-overs, ifs-ands-or-buts; simply heaven or hell—based on one decision.

Look at what the major religions teach about afterlife. How many hoops do you have to jump through to get to heaven? Or is it even possible?  Which one do you NOT want to get wrong? Be very, very, sure about this one. The choice is yours. If you’re wrong the blame will fall on you, and you alone.

Revealing the Fingerprints of God – Part 2

 

Revealing God’s Presence 

In the book of Exodus, God punished ancient Egypt with ten plagues because Pharaoh refused to free the Hebrew slaves. Pharaoh’s magicians tried to counter God’s power. They failed but realized real power when they saw it and proclaimed God’s presence to Pharaoh. He refused to acknowledge the warning.

As explained in part one of this post, a CSI visually inspects a surface for patent or plastic prints. If none are observed the surface is processed with powders and/or UV light to enhance latent prints into the visible range. Comparing prints from the scene to known suspect prints establish their presence there.

Physical evidence, tying a suspect to a scene, greatly aids an investigation. A suspect’s print on a murder weapon or victim’s body, is hard to defend in court. It proves the accused—pun intended—had a hand in it. Egypt might have been spared the plagues had Pharaoh admitted and yielded to God’s hand.

Parallels between Spiritual vs. Physical Processing 

First, the influence of the Holy Spirit on a person’s heart and mind is the basis for all conversions to Christianity regardless of their life history. It is expected of Christians to help the process by telling people about that influence, the presence of God’s hand—His fingerprints—in life. Some do not know how to see them. Others, like the Pharaoh, are unwilling to acknowledge them.

Knowing how a CSI locates prints can aid revelation of God’s presence in a person’s life. Please consider the following parallels that I have noticed between latent print processing and conversing with non-believers

  • God’s Word = fingerprint powder
  • The history of the person = surface to be processed
    • A calm life = a smooth surface
    • A rough life by circumstance = a rough surface
    • A rough life by circumstance and/or choice = a rough and/or multicolored surface
  • Counseling a person = the type of brush and powder to be used
  • The Holy Spirit = UV light

Latent print dusting always starts with visual examination of the surface and then light application of powder. As latents develop additional powder can be applied or different technique can be used. Few things, however, ruin good latent development like dumping a large amount of powder on a surface and hoping for good results.

If a CSI processes a smooth, monochromatic surface they will most likely apply a standard powder with a brush. Ample amounts of powder can be used without great risk of clogging the details of the print. Speaking with someone who has a relatively easy life allows a greater amount of scripture in the conversation and personal encouragement. These people are least likely to feel threatened and pull away from proactive interaction.

If a CSI processes a rough textured and/or dirty surface a magnetic wand and powder might be a better option. Brush bristles will have too much contact and likely wipe away the latent or clog the clarity of it. Persons who have rough lives by coincidence or circumstances tend to not trust abrupt fellowship and goodwill from others. A nominal exposure to scripture based around specific rather than general areas of their life (e.g. confidence, abandonment, loss of material) and reactive fellowship will work better. Dumping a large amount of scripture and personal attention can push untrusting people away.

If a CSI processes a rough and/or multicolored surface he knows that clogging of details and contrast between powder and surface will be an issue. A magnetic wand and fluorescent powder works best in this instance. Application of UV light to the dusted latent draws the light of the print out. This light from the print provides contrast with the texture and opposing colors of the surface. Someone who made bad choices and suffered consequences for them is quite often prideful. I speak from my personal history in this. Similar to those who have hard lives because of circumstance, God’s word is best applied to specific parts of their life (e.g. envy, lust, desire for material). Pride often obscures the difference between what the world trained them to see and reality. Only the intervention of the Holy Spirit can provide illumination and the contrast needed to see. The only option Christians have to affect this is steadfast prayer.

A Word to the Wise 

Before any scriptural counsel, or interactive fellowship, Christians must listen to people and understand their history, fears, needs, and dreams. Knowing this (their surface type) we can better offer scripture in conversation and fellowship. I have seen some amazingly clear fingerprints developed (as a CSI and as a Christian) by following these techniques. I hope you will too.

The Evidence Cascade

Elkton house burglars leave clues at crime scene – Cecil Daily: Local News.

 

 The one condemned to die is to be executed on the testimony of two or three witnesses. No one is to be executed on the testimony of a single witness.         –Deuteronomy 17:6

I believe an acceptable punishment for certain crimes—after a swift, just, and objective judicial process—is death. I also firmly agree with Deuteronomy 17:6 regarding the testimony of a single witness.

The Silent Witness

Truth-be-told, cases with only one witness are extremely rare because there are many kinds of witnesses. Eyewitnesses are good but the silent witnesses are better. Evidence, physical and otherwise, has often been called the silent witness.  These can be:

  • Documentary – photo/video, digital (computer), actual documents
  • Physical – fingerprint, DNA, ballistic, hair & fiber, fracture, etc…
  • Circumstantial – logical conclusions drawn from known facts surrounding an event

Witnesses to any crime add up if the investigators can find them.

My realm of expertise lies in physical evidence. But all evidence must be studied under the same standards.

  • Evidence must be scrutinized through an impartial lens.
  • All evidence, laid side-by-side, should draw the same conclusion.
  • Any differences must be considered and form a logical explanation.
  • The intent of such an examination is not to determine guilt or innocence, but fact (truth).

The Evidence Cascade

I affirm the testimony of a single witness should not justify a conviction. However, one piece of evidence of seeming minimal value can start what I call an evidence cascade. In the news story linked above, a single piece of evidence (store receipt) found in the crime scene did just that.

Having worked similar cases, I can make an educated guess about the possible cascade of evidence that followed:

  • The receipt at the scene bore a store location, date, and time.
    • Provides the suspect location at a date and time
    • Provides DNA and fingerprints (of suspect or story employee)
  • The store security video at the location identified on the receipt
    • Provides documentary evidence (one suspect wearing the t-shirt at a specific location, date, and time)
    • Provides documentary evidence (second suspect associated with the first in the eyewitness testimony)
  •  An item handled by the suspects at the store provides physical evidence (fingerprints, DNA, etc…).
  • DNA or fingerprints on receipt of store employee who gave suspect the receipt.
    • Provides additional eyewitness by store employee.
  • The t-shirt left at the scene, and evidence from it enters the cascade.
    • Matches physical description of eyewitnesses
    • Hairs and fibers
    • DNA
  • Locating the suspects by examining evidence above lead to an arrest.
  • Additional evidence is provided by the arrested suspects.
    • The suspect wearing or in possession of victim’s clothing provides physical evidence
    • A knife in possession of the suspects provides physical evidence (fibers from the cut screen at the crime scene).
    • Other items stolen from victim in suspect’s possession provide physical and documentary evidence.
    • Testimonial and documentary (verbal and written confession)

I am not privy to the investigative details of this case. I do know that if the knowledge, time, and equipment are available, the smallest piece can spearhead an overwhelming case against a criminal. Then the future of the suspect lies solely in the hands and mercy of the court.

The Burden of Proof

As is my tendency, I evaluate what I know about a particular crime scene investigation, my knowledge of physical evidence, and what I read in biblical scripture. Then I form a conclusion based on them.

  • First, I have objectively examined evidences that prove to me biblical scripture teaches truth about the spiritual and behavioral nature of humans.
    • I am human.
  • Second, if the first is true—and I use the same examination standards—do I see any other teachings in the bible that I cannot logically accept as true?
    • I do not.
  • Third, would the smallest piece of evidence I have left behind in my life cascade to prove my innocence or guilt before God?
    • After considering this question I can only conclude:
      • I am guilty.
      • Being guilty, my future lies solely in the hands and mercy of God.
  • Fourth, if the first and second are true
    • God has already deliberated my case and ruled on it.
      • See John 3:16
      • Jesus Christ has taken my punishment for me.

I greatly encourage everyone to undertake the same investigation I did. Determine the validity of the first and second points. If you come to the same conclusion you must ask yourself:

  • Would an evidence cascade of your life prove guilt or innocence?
  • How many witnesses would testify against you?
  • What hope do you have?