Friday, November 19, 2010

Conference on Forensic Death Investigation

"Cause of Death” is the topic of the 10th annual conference at the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University today and tomorrow. Speakers include forensic experts, criminal investigators, attorneys, and judges presenting the latest methods and strategies in forensic science.

The first presentation was by Dr. Henry Lee, a prominent forensic scientist most people have seen on TV in high profile court cases. He says the ever-growing forensic database and new instruments and equipment offer unprecedented opportunities for gathering physical evidence at crime scenes.

Dr. Cyril Wecht, chairman of the Institute’s advisory board, says prospective jurors today tend to expect definitive physical evidence, though it doesn’t always exist, and they get angry when disappointed, so defense attorneys and prosecutors may ask if people in the jury pool watch CSI.

Dr. Lee says it’s the prosecutor’s job to explain the physical evidence, or lack thereof, to the jury, and he’s found juries to be eminently reasonable.

Dr. Wecht says the field of forensics grows in sophistication constantly, but there's been no earth-shaking discovery since DNA forensic profiling became possible in the mid-1980s.

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