Thursday, 5 November 2015

Verifying A Suspect's Alibi With Pollen Fingerprinting

He lured his friend to hut at the foot of a mountain with the promise to supply him with  hallucinogenic amphetamine tablets  as compensation for a failed drug deal. Instead, he shot the friend at close range in the back of the head with a .303 rifle...shattering his skull.
The body was found, decomposing more than two months later. It was June 25, 1999 in Wellington, New Zealand.
 This case  involves a murder suspect who gave an alibi to dissociate himself from the murder he was accused of.

I WAS NOT WHOM YOU SAW
1. He claimed the eyewitness who placed him at the murder scene on April 13, 1999, was mistaken. He wasn't the person.

YES I HAVE THOSE CLOTHES. BUT I BOUGHT THEM AFTER THE MURDER... FAR AWAY
2. He maintained that the clothes he was alleged to have been wearing at the time of the murder were bought after the murder date. Rather, he stated he was at Kaikoura  not Wellington where he bought the supposed clothing.

BURDEN OF PROOF
In order to win a conviction, the police had to prove the suspect was at the crime scene on the morning of the killing.

RECOVERING OF FORENSIC EVIDENCE
Forensic investigators at the murder scene noted the vegetation around the body and in the vicinity. Police collected clothing and other items from the suspect's home that looked similar to reports of what the murder suspect was wearing at the time of the murder.
Spores and pollen samples were taken from the clothing and other items of the murder suspect and analyzed by forensic palynologists.

FORENSIC ANALYSIS
The analysis involved the examination of the presence or absence of a specific pollen type among which was Nothofagus menziesii , common around the murder scene.

RESULTS
Evidence was presented from shopkeepers and representatives of
the wholesale trader of the clothing (claimed to be bought by the suspect) that such clothes could not have been purchased (from them) in Kaikoura. (Sorry!)

The pollen evidence suggested that the suspect had been at the murder scene; the Nothofagus menziesii pollen found on the clothing of the suspect was the same type of pollen found at the murder scene.(Oops!)

Also, no pollen of the said Kaikoura was found on any of the suspect's clothing. He never really went there after all. He had lied.

SHAME
Based on this evidence, the defense was forced to change their story and admitted that the murder suspect was indeed at the vicinity of the murder scene on the date in question.( didn't have a choice..)

This has shown how Forensic palynology provides great potentials for the justice system and law enforcement agencies to benefit from.  Verifying alibis is just one out of several applications of Forensic science.
Be sure to remember this when vouching for your client's alibi in court...dear counsel!