Quality Exclusives

Off-Topic Case Study: Laser Scans Evidence in Homicide

January 25, 2010
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3-D laser scan data is used as demonstrative forensic evidence in homicide trial.

During a murder trial in Georgia, Leica TruView was used to virtually place the jury at the crime scene and show them how the homicide could have occurred. Source: Leica Geosystems Inc.



District Attorney Joe Mulholland of the South Georgia Judicial Circuit used Leica Geosystems’ 3-D laser scan data as evidence in the court case of a homicide of 21-year-old Ebony Clarke of Bainbridge, GA, who was shot and killed on August 12th, 2008, during a street altercation between two men.

During the murder trial of Antonio Jerome Greenlee in Decatur County Superior Court, witness and crime scene investigator, Andy Forte of the Thomas County Sheriff’s Department, used Leica TruView to virtually place the jury at the crime scene and to show them how the homicide could have occurred.

TruView is a free, Web-enabled panoramic point cloud viewer that allows users to view, pan, zoom, measure and markup the rich point cloud captured by the Leica ScanStation 3-D laser scanner. The Leica ScanStation allowed investigators to first photograph, and then make millions of measurements of, the crime scene in just a few minutes thus “freezing the scene in time” forever. The data set is generated in minutes after scanning for briefings or analysis or as, in this case, a jury exhibit.

“The jury really liked it and we had jurors comment afterwards about how effective it was” said District Attorney Mulholland. “We not only used the TruView to support Andy’s testimony, but the judge then allowed [him] to show it again during my direct examination of other witnesses as I asked them questions about where they were standing or where the shooter was. TruView is basically a high-tech picture. It is not testimony. It is offered as an exhibit and demonstrative evidence.”

Mulholland said that after the trial, the judge called him to the bench and commented on how effective the use of the Leica TruView was and encouraged him to use it again. “We certainly plan on doing so. The scanning software was absolutely fantastic” he said. The judge also contacted Thomas County Sheriff R. Carlton Powell to thank him for his agency’s assistance with the case and to compliment him on the professional nature of the exhibits generated by his investigators. Sheriff Powell was instrumental in bringing ScanStation technology to Georgia law enforcement and has made it available to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and other agencies as a courtesy.


Leica Geosystems Inc.
(770) 326-9557
www.leica-geosystems.us/forensic

Benefits

  • The Leica ScanStation allowed investigators to first photograph, and then make millions of measurements of, the crime scene in just a few minutes thus “freezing the scene in time” forever. The data set is generated in minutes after scanning for briefings or analysis or as, in this case, a jury exhibit.

  • TruView is a free, Web-enabled panoramic point cloud viewer that allows users to view, pan, zoom, measure and markup the rich point cloud captured by the Leica ScanStation 3-D laser scanner.
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