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Friday, December 2, 2005

 

Why we cannot rely on firearm forensics

`Tyrone Jones is serving a life sentence, in part because of a microscopic particle that Baltimore police found on his left hand. At his trial for murder in 1998 the crime-lab examiner gave evidence that the particle was residue from a gunshot. He claimed Jones must have held or fired a gun shortly before his arrest.

Jones denies this and still protests his innocence. His defence team is appealing the conviction, claiming that the science of gunshot residue (GSR) analysis is not as robust as the prosecution claims.

Now, a New Scientist investigation has found that someone who has never fired a gun could be contaminated by someone who has, and that different criminal investigators use contradictory standards. What’s more, particles that are supposedly unique to GSR can be produced in other ways.’

Yet another reason why the death penalty is horribly flawed.




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