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Physics Offers New Perspective on Blood Spatter Investigations

According to an article appearing on forensicmag.com, BPA which is described as an intricate piece of the crime scene puzzle, now faces a substantial error ratio showing the possibility of an overestimate of blood “drag and gravity” patterns which may have been miscalculated by as much as 50% from their original projection. This advancement in physics could play a significant role in the reversal of a multitude of previously unsolved homicide cases, many of which were deemed suicide as a result of a lack of blood spatter evidence.

In brief, when a weapon is fired at point-blank range, propellant gases from the gunpowder are discharged from the end of the barrel at high speeds forming what forensic scientists describe as “turbulent vortex rings” or waves of pressure emanating from the muzzle gases discharged at the time of fire. Using high-speed shadowgraphy, the effect is observed visually as waves or vortexes that appear much like the distortion seen within a wind and thrust testing tunnel in the study of supersonic aircraft. Even at point-blank range, researchers are now demonstrating that blood spatter droplets may actually propel backward from the shooter and toward the victim, the opposite of what has been the traditional science of crime scene forensic analysis.

According to Alexander Yarin, distinguished professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, “This means that [blood] droplets can even land behind the victim, along with forward spatter caused by a penetrating bullet.” In past investigations, criminal defense attorneys have relied on the lack of blood spatter on the defendant to assert the innocence of defendants in close-range shootings. Modern physics may now refute that defense.

The research was first considered following an investigation into the high-profile celebrity murder of actress Lana Clark, found shot to death in the mansion of record producer, Phil Spector in 2003 by a single gunshot wound to her face. Spector, at the time of the shooting, was originally vindicated following the testimony of a witness who observed him running from the house shortly after the shooting while wearing all white clothing. Upon arrival at the crime scene, investigators noted that Spector was without a single drop of blood on his clothing, suggesting he could not have been involved in a point-blank shooting. The death was originally deemed an accidental suicide until scientists reconsidered the physics of turbulent vortex rings and their effect on blood splatter analysis. Despite his pristine outfit at the time of the killing, Spector’s fate as a murderer would eventually be sealed.

In a published white paper entitled “Physics of Fluid,” theoretical and experimental analysis explains how, as a result of the turbulent vortex, a murder suspect could shoot someone in the face at point-blank range and emerge from that shooting with zero bloodstain evidence on his or her person. Unfortunately for the suspect, the physics is indisputable.

The analysis has inspired the reopening of a multitude of cases previously ruled as suicide despite the existence of highly unusual and suspicious circumstances surrounding individuals named as “parties of interest” in each case. Physics may eventually “catch up” with those guilty parties who previously thought they made a “clean” getaway. 

 

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