Securing and evaluation of a murder scene is well explained by forensic science. According to Fraser (2006) forensic science is defined as practical application of a wide range of sciences to provide answers for questions of concern to a legal system. Usually the forensic science is related to a civil action or crime. To secure and evaluate a crime scene can be traced back into the Roman times when a criminal charge was all about presenting the case in the forum in front of a group of public individuals. Speeches were given by both the accuser and the individual accused of the crime. The individual who gives the best argument in an organized delivery determines the final result of the case. Europe medical practitioners in university and army settings started to collect information regarding the causes and manner of death during the 16th century (Gardner, 2007). According to Strauch, et al. (2006) a French army surgeon, Pare consistently examined the effects of violent death, such as murder, on internal organs. Logic and procedure has been in use as seen from the early examples. John Toms, in Lancaster 1784, was tried and convicted as he murdered Edward Culshaw using a pistol. Edward's dead body was examined and a pistol ward that was found in the head wound corresponded with a torn newspaper in Tom's pocket (Fraser, 2006).
Crime scenes, for example the murder scenes, are usually difficult and chaotic to secure. An accurate investigation must be employed and the crime scene properly secured. While using forensic evidence in solving a crime, the first step is crime scene investigation. During this stage of criminal investigation, all items found at the scene are observed, gathered and analyzed so that to determine the manner in which the crime was committed (MacLean, Powley & Dahlstrom, 2005). So as to accomplish the task, crime scene investigators are supposed to follow the procedures that constitute: securing the murder scene; managing the scene; surveying the scene; scene documentation; searching and examining the murder scene; collection of evidence; and Reconstruction and release of the crime scene (De Forest & Crim, 2005).
Securing the scene
This is to ensure that evidence is preserved and protected (Eunice, 2009). The first person to arrive at the murder scene should make sure that barriers and crime scene tapes are put to secure the crime scene. Some should act as security personnel to keep out those individuals who do not belong at the scene. The crime scene is properly secured by following particular guidelines.
1. The boundaries of the murder scene should be established by determining an inner perimeter, the specific point where the murder took place, and an outer perimeter, for instance, entrance windows or door. These boundaries can be established beyond the original scope of the murder scene while bearing in mind that the size of boundaries can be reduced if necessary but not easily expanded. There will possibly an extended perimeter, where a culprit may have thrown a murder weapon while fleeing the murder scene.
2. The perimeters with murder scene should be marked by setting up physical barriers, such as cones, ropes, crime scene tape, security personnel, available vehicles, and other necessary equipment. Existing boundaries like walls, doors, and gates can also be used to mark perimeters.
3. Once the boundaries have been marked, entry and exist points should be documented for all people coming into as well as leaving the murder scene. This is very necessary in controlling the flow of persons and animals leaving and entering the murder scene to ensure integrity of the scene.
4. Unnecessary individuals should be removed from the scene so that any available witnesses can easily be gathered.
5. The presence of any evidence should be determined. In case there is any evidence, measures should be effectuated to preserve and protect it so that it cannot be compromised or lost.
6. The conditions if the area, where murder has taken place, should be recorded. The following are usually written down: whether conditions, time, number of people, and description of the area upon your arrival.
7. After completing all documentation, the crime scene should be released. All evidences should be secured, and all sketches and photographs taken should be removed. The release should take place only when every individual agrees that there have been adequate search over the scene.
Managing a Murder Scene
According to Eunice (2009) management of a crime scene centers on crime scene investigations and evidence collection, preservation of evidence, packaging of evidence, transportation, and physical evidence documentation. At any crime scene, there are many individuals walking around carrying various tasks. It is very necessary for the investigator in charge to manage the logistics of the murder scene, the available personnel, the information to be propagated to the involved people and the type of technology being employed. This communication level is significant since what happens in the course of the murder scene investigation phase cab break or make a case.
Surveying the scene
It is an important phase of crime scene investigation that includes a police officer as well as an investigator. This phase involves; having a look at the entire scene and then forming early theories concerning what may have taken place in due course of the crime. Investigators are not supposed to make any snap conclusions when they carry out this task since the hypotheses are open to change based once forensic examinations are pursued (Eunice, 2009).
Documenting the scene
Organized stepwise approach scene documentation is very crucial for proper processing of a murder scene. Properly documented crime scene is very important because it can enhance reconstruction of the scene, and the results can be used for presentation in the court room. Documentation of crime scenes is done by four methods: taken photos; written notes which are finally used to construct a final report; sketches; and videos (Wolson, 2006). Reports and notes are done chronologically and should not include analysis, opinions, and conclusions, but facts only. An evidence recovery technician or crime scene investigator should document what they observe and not what they think. Therefore the final report is supposed to provide a descriptive story regarding the scene. Each and every step during documentation is important since it acts as a permanent record of the scene after the location has been squared away and the evidence has already been forwarded to forensic examiners (Wolson, 2006). There should be consistency between these four methods.
Searching and examining the murder scene
Investigators perform the search depending on what was observed in course of the crime scene's earlier survey. In the course of crime scene investigation, evidence will be gathered in some established order. Investigators should carefully observe the ground or floor surrounding the body. Items such as marks and stains should be looked for since they have got evidential value. Since every crime scene has got three dimensions, it is also important to look up. Only one investigator is allowed at a time to approach the body so as to avoid biasness. The positioning of the body should never be moved or altered while close visual examinations of both the body and the immediate surroundings is done (Burnett, Orentes & Pierson, 2007).
The intensity or scope of the search will depend on the situation and conditions present, for instance it will be difficult to do a detailed examination of the murder scene when lighting is not adequate. If examination of the scene is done without considering whether factors like light are adequate then this will lead into destruction of latent or trace evidence as well as overlooking of the available evidence. It is not possible to report all possibilities of the crime scene if an improper search takes place. In addition to lighting, other factors that can determine the intensity of search are experience, judgment and training of the forensic investigator. Once the forensic investigators are through with examination of the scene and the body has been removed, they should take the remaining time to consistently check the rest of the house, vehicle, location or business and carefully note the evidential items (Gardner, 2007).
According to Gardner (2007) a crime scene is a place where crime evidence may be found. This is not necessarily a place where the crime was done. Crime scenes can either be primary, secondary, and tertiary. For example, the corrections officers may employ a warrant to search the home a suspect. There is a possibility that the crime evidence may be found at the home of the suspect even though the crime was not committed at the location. A suspect can also kidnap a victim at one location, referred to as a primary crime scene, and transport the victim in car which is a secondary crime scene, to distant location where he or she commits the murder as well as disposing of the body. All locations with the potential for crime evidence recovery must be treated in the same way. At the crime scene, the lead investigator will elect one individual to collect and preserve the available evidence so that it does not become contaminated or get lost (Gardner, 2007). The following instructions are necessary during the collection of evidence:
1. It is very important that the pieces of evidence should be handled with care, packaged separately and then marked by the forensic investigator of the crime scene. The investigation as well as conviction of a culprit is reliant on the capability of the prosecutor to produce a dependable evidence to support the case in the court.
2. Once evidence is detected, it is photographed and re-photographed using a photographic marker. For an item of evidence to be documented fully, an overall, close-up and mid-range photograph should be taken and a scale is always used. The item of evidence's location is recorded as its distance from fixed points for example walls. In case the item of evidence is located outside the building, the measurements are taken from available permanent features. After documentation the item of evidence can either be processed on the scene or gathered and processed later at a laboratory.
3. The item of evidence is admitted in a court of law, but only if the documentation is done properly and it can be identified by every individual that has handled it. The chain of custody starts with the individual who first gathered the physical evidence. At the court, those who handled the item of evidence must be proved, and anyone who handled the item must admit that it was the same item they had handled. Most agencies identify every individual who handled the item of evidence by use of a property receipt that kept together with the item of evidence. Therefore, it will be better if few people had handled the item of evidence.
4. Once the item of evidence has been gathered it should be preserved in the right manner. The collection of items is done in boxes or paper bags. So as to avoid cross contamination, the items should be packaged separately. This is very important especially when the items are to be processed for fingerprints or DNA. If the clothes are bloody, they are wrapped in a paper before putting them in a bag.
5. If guns are involved, they should be unloaded. Bullets and cartridge cases should be gathered in separate bags, and the gun should be put in a gun box. If knives are involved, they should be collected in a knife box to avoid accidents.
6. Once gathered, all packages are sealed with an evidence tape and this tape must be signed. When the item is opened, the package should be sealed again and the tape re-signed. A property receipt is filed out, including type of investigation, time and date of collection, case number, the identification number of the item, location evidence was gathered, description of the evidence, and name of culprit and victim. This property receipt is attached to the package of evidence and must be initialed by any individual who handles the evidence.
Reconstruction and release of the crime scene
According to Raymond (2005) crime scene reconstruction is defined as the employment of scientific methods such as deductive reasoning, physical evidence, and their interrelationships to obtain explicit knowledge regarding the sequence of events that enclose the commission of the crime. In the reconstruction stage of the crime scene investigation, a number of theories concerning the crime are developed or dismissed depending on the evidence that was discovered and collected. The accuracy and reliability of the theories is determined when the forensic scientists examine the evidence (Raymond, 2005). Once processing of the crime scene has been done, it can be released.
But before release, a final walk is made through the scene for purposes of a fresh look (Petricevic & Elliot, 2005). There is a possibility that an investigator might see what he or she missed during the last visit. An investigator may also find the tools of investigation he might have left behind. After the release, the investigator should get together with county or district attorneys, and other detectives who may have processed the case. This group of individuals work together as a team in reviewing what had been covered in the course of murder scene investigation. Once every member is satisfied, the murder scene is formally released. The name of the person releasing the murder scene as well as date and time is recorded in the checklist. The investigator should document the date and time the murder scene is released as well as the name and contacts of the person to whom the scene is released (Gardner, 2007).
Securing and evaluation of a murder scene is well explained by forensic science as a practical application of a wide range of sciences to provide answers for questions of concern to a legal system. Usually the forensic science is related to a civil action or crime. Crime scenes are usually difficult and chaotic to secure, such that for an accurate investigation to take place, the scene must be properly secured. A crime scene is a place where crime evidence may be found. This is not necessarily a place where the crime was done. Crime scenes can either be primary, secondary, and tertiary. For example, the corrections officers may employ a warrant to search the home a suspect.
There is a possibility that the crime evidence may be found at the home of the suspect even though the crime was not committed at the location. A suspect can also kidnap a victim at one location, referred to as a primary crime scene, and transport the victim in car which is a secondary crime scene, to distant location where he or she commits the murder as well as disposing of the body. So as to accomplish the task of crime investigation, crime scene investigators follow a set of procedures including: securing the murder scene; managing the scene; surveying the scene; scene documentation; searching and examining the murder scene; collection of evidence; and Reconstruction and release of the crime scene.