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?


I Am The Walrus…But I Am Not A Killer!

I Am The Walrus

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. Proverbs 19:2

New fossil suggests giant ‘killer walrus’ was just a toothy fish-eater | EveryONE

The above linked article tells how an ancient walrus (the Pelagiarctos thomasi), a “killer” species, was not really so fearsome. Believed to be an apex predator, it “ripped apart birds and other marine mammals” as part of its daily feeding habit. The walrus earned apex (dominant) status in the 1980’s after a robust jawbone and sharp teeth were discovered. However the title of “killer” has been rescinded after examination of more complete fossils. An over-arching assertion made about the creature, based on a miniscule part of the whole, proved wrong. In short the walrus apparently got a bad rap.

This rush to make a determination is not limited to paleontology. In recent weeks news of an Egyptian parchment fragment spread speculation (of proof that Jesus Christ was married) across the media. In the video inserted below Karen L. King (Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University) inferred the item does not prove or disprove Christ’s marital status. She does, however, speak about studying the fragment (at 1:10 in the video) and using words that “would be in the missing part” to make determinations about the context of the fragment. In effect making a determination about the whole based on a miniscule part—aided by a non-existent part. An assumption based on the desire to know a fact does not in turn constitute a fact.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlmoILJmH4M&w=560&h=315]


faked homicide

Such conjectures do more than tilt the opinion and discussions of science and religion. In crime scene investigation this tendency to fill in the blanks starts an investigation downs a slippery slope. This has been a long-standing danger in law enforcement as well. Conjecture about crime scene evidence can start a manhunt for a killer when none exists, or convict an innocent for a crime they did not commit. This Milwaukee Journal clipping from September 10, 1941 highlights the tendency and how additional evidence revealed the truth.

I firmly believe the tenet taught in Deuteronomy 19:15 should be a basic principle in crime scene investigation. One piece of evidence (a witness) physical or otherwise does not prove guilt. Neither does it prove innocence. The wisdom, relayed to us in Proverbs 19:2 proves invaluable, no matter the context it is applied to.

Have you seen hasty judgments proven wrong after further revelation and examination? I would like to hear about your experience.

Seton Hall student Jessica Moore killed saving friend Nakeisha Vanterpool — witnesses – NYPOST.com

“A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”  Proverbs 29:23

A young man denied entry into a party takes pride-filled revenge in an act of wanton violence. A young woman, known for kindness, shows the greatest act of love for another. One will be known as a villain, the other, a hero.  Click on the link below to read the details.

Seton Hall student Jessica Moore killed saving friend Nakeisha Vanterpool — witnesses – NYPOST.com.