Forensic Science Survey Course

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					Forensic Science Survey Course
CJ 380

Primary Instructor: Christie T. Davis 415-863-3466
Office: not on campus
Office Hours: anytime via email or electronic chat on BB Vista by appointment

Guest Experts:
Wayne Jeffery, B.Sc., M.Sc(Pharm)
Jaime S. Prevolsek, , B.Sc., MA
Anita Wonder
Michele Yezzo

Course goals and objectives: This survey course introduces some principles and
techniques of forensic science as they pertain to crime scene investigation and crime
laboratory analysis. The course is designed to be accessible to those without a science
background, but at the same time will provide a well-rounded introduction to some topics
for those considering further studies in the field. Upon completion of this course, the
student will have an understanding of the scope, scientific foundation, and techniques of
a variety of the scientific disciplines practiced in the field.

Resources:     Lectures, visual aids, articles and web sites

Grading:      Weekly homework               20%
              Web attendance/participation     5%
              Quiz 1                       12.5%
              Quiz 2                       12.5%
              Final                          50%

Course Format:           This course is taught solely on line via WebCT; instructors live
in varied areas of North America and do not have a physical presence on campus. The
course consists of Lectures, homework, quizzes, final exam, on-line discussions and live
chats. Each lecture will consist of an overview of one of the topics outlined in this
syllabus and will be provided as a text document. Homework assignments will be
attached to each lecture. There will be one or more chats before each quiz and the final
exam. The number of chats is up to the needs and schedule of the students. You will be
expected to log into class on a daily basis.

About the Experts:
Christie Davis has a Ph.D. from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, now called the
Henry Ave. MCP Campus of Drexel. She is President and Principal Consultant at Helix
Analytical, Inc. in San Francisco, CA. that provides independent forensic case review of
DNA and Serology testing done in state or federal labs in felony cases. She analyzes lab
data and other documents, and teach attorneys about both the science of DNA, and case
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specific issues and if necessary, will testify in court regarding findings. She has
consulted on over 550 cases encompassing several states in the US (including PA) and in
Michele Yezzo is a retired Forensic Scientist with over 32 years experience in the
analysis of trace evidence, blood, physiological fluids and bloodstain pattern evidence.
Her employer was the State of Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Bureau of Criminal
Identification and Investigation. Her work involved the analysis, reporting and testimony
on criminal cases primarily in Ohio. She also consults on cases in various jurisdictions
including Ontario and Quebec, Canada. She has testified well over 350 times in
jurisdictions in Ohio as well as cases in West Virginia, Military court, Canada. As well
she has provided training to other scientists, law enforcement, medical and nursing, and
attorneys on these topics and presenting papers for numerous regional, national and
international forensic organizations. Ms. Yezzo has a B.S. in Comprehensive Sciences
with a concentration in Biology and Chemistry and a minor in Criminal justice from
Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio.
Anita Wonder: has a M.A. in Criminal Justice from California State University
Sacramento, has spent over 30 years in research, lecturing, and casework in the field of
Bloodstain Pattern Evidence. She also has 38 years of Clinical Laboratory Science
background which has helped her understand the nature and behavior of blood in
criminal violence events. She has authored two textbooks well received in the science
community. She approaches bloodstain pattern analysis in casework from sound science
principles, and has communicated the applications to 28 law enforcement courses across
the USA. She has spoken before groups of lawyers, reporters, clinical lab scientists, and
the local Rotary club. The importance of facilitating communication between widely
divergent viewpoints within the criminal justice system is a life time goal.
Jaime S. Prevolsek has a Masters degree specializing in Forensic Entomology in the
brand new Forensic Research Centre at Simon Fraser University in B.C., Canada. She
also has a BSc (hons) from the Department of Biological Sciences from SFU. Ms.
Prevolsek investigates the oviposition or egg-laying behaviour of forensically-important
blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) species.
Wayne Jeffery: At present Mr Jeffery was the first one in Canada trained as a Drug
Recognition Expert Officer and is a DRE Instructor. He is the co-coordinator of the
program in British Columbia. He has given training on drug identification and identifying
the drug user to Police forces in Asia, Caribbean, Central and South America and Europe.
Mr. Jeffery is a lecturer on the following Police courses: Drug Identification, Drug
Undercover Investigative Techniques, Clandestine laboratory Investigations and
Chemical Safety and Drug Awareness Training.

Attendance/Participation Students who participate in class (ex ask questions, make
insightful comments, answer other students' questions and otherwise make a serious
attempt to contribute to the class) will not go unrecognized in my evaluation and
determination of class grade. To gain from this class, you need to participate by
completing the required readings on time, by turning in homework assignments on time,
by participating in web chats and discussion boards in a timely manner. More than one
week's absence or lack of participation in discussions and chats will detrimentally affect
your attendance/participation grade.

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Due Dates: Homework assignments, quizzes and final exam will be available on
WebCT. All assignments are due to be posted on the Web site by the date indicated on
Class calendar. Location and times of testing will be specified on WebCT. Late
assignments may be penalized unless prior permission for an extension has been
obtained. Unless prior permission has been obtained for an extension, missed exams
cannot be made up.

Online Chats: One recorded chat per week will be run online. To be determined by
class participants' schedules.

Plagiarism: It is assumed that the work you submit for this course is your own. Any
attempt to present someone else's work as your own is plagiarism, a form of academic
dishonesty. Plagiarism includes copying another student's work, or copying,
paraphrasing, any ideas, written and/or published work, without due credit to the author.
Plagiarism is a serious academic offence that can result in a failing grade for the
assignment, and/or for the course and a report to the Office of Judicial Affairs.

Academic Dishonesty: Quizzes and the final test are to be taken individually.
Collaboration between students will not be tolerated. Any form of cheating will result in
an automatic zero.

For further information, please consult Drexel's Student Handbook - look for
academic honesty under Judicial Affairs.

Grading Policy: Drexel now supports division of grades into plus and minus, for
example a grade of “A” will be designated A+ (98-100), A (93-97) or A- (90-92). In
general, A: 90-100% B: 80-89% C: 70-79% D: 60-69% F: 0-59% (borderline grades
are left to the discretion of the professor)

The effort you make in this class will be noticed and will be considered when I compute
your final grade; particularly if your grade is borderline.

Course Topic Modules:

MODULE 1 / WEEK 1: Course Introduction

MODULE 2 / WEEK 2: Crime Scene Investigation
1. Setting up a scene: securing, isolating, sketching, photographing, setting up a search
grid, who is in charge, how the structure may change from one county/jurisdiction to the
2. Legal Issues (chain of custody, search and seizure rules): how much of the law do
you have to know? Do you collect only what you are directed to collect? Do you agree
with, find frustrating, etc how crime scenes are processed? Have you processed entire
scenes, or do you stick to samples within your field?
3. Crime Scene Safety: OSHA rules, Biohazard issues, etc

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4. Collection and Preservation
5. report writing and testimony
6. Others

MODULE 3 / WEEK 3: Trace Evidence
Criminalistics is the overall term for the analysis of evidence in the forensic laboratory.
There are many subspecialties in the forensic laboratory including one area called trace
evidence. Trace evidence is a broad ranging specialty which may include the analysis of
samples such as hairs, fibers, glass, paint, plant material, tapes and adhesives, impression
evidence (footwear, tire and fabric impressions), and miscellaneous other materials.

This section will focus on the analysis that can be conducted on these sorts of materials
with an emphasis on potential results, value for investigative purposes and court
presentation. Current methods of analysis will be highlighted with case examples

Introduction to Trace Evidence
    1. Overview of basic forensic procedures
           a. Locard’s exchange principle
           b. Collection and handling of Trace Evidence
    2. What is Trace Evidence?
           a. Hairs/Fibers
           b. Glass
           c. Paint
           d. Soil
           e. Plant material
           f. Tapes and Adhesives
           g. Impression Evidence
           h. Miscellaneous
    3. How are Samples analyzed?
           a. Physical examination
           b. Microscopic examination
           c. Instrumental Analysis
    4. What is the evidentiary value of Trace Evidence?
           a. Investigative purposes
Court presentation

WEEK 4: Homework Catchup and Quiz

MODULE 4 / WEEK 5: Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Topic 1: Introduction to Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Controversy in Progress from Police work to Forensic Science Approach
A. TVs Dexter is Entertainment, not fact
B. Shift from "Instant Evidence" to systematic criteria
C. Present situation between law enforcement and the crime lab.
D. 3 stages to Bloodstain Pattern Analysis:

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1. Recognition of blood (relates to Michele’s Module)
2. Recognition of types of distribution
3. Interpretation of combinations and overlap of patterns
Reading assignment:
Topic 2: Outline of pattern types and criteria approach
A. Spatter Groups versus Not Spatter groups
B. Directions of Travel
C. Objective Criteria ordering of pattern types.
Topic 3: Nonspatter groups
Selection and tips on when and how to measure spatters
Topic 4: What’s wrong with this Picture
A fun lecture in which photos from actual cases show errors in interpretation from
alleged "experts in Bloodspatter Evidence." The premise is that before you can solve a
problem you must first understand it.
Topic 5: Review, case examples, and Quiz (multiple choice)
Answers for the quiz provides further information in interpretation.

MODULE 5 / WEEK 6: Forensic Toxicology
Compare and contrast psychological and physical dependence
·      Name and classify the commonly abused drugs
·      Describe the laboratory tests normally used to perform a routine drug
·      Describe and explain the process of chromatography
·      Explain the difference between thin-layer chromatography and gas
·      Describe the utility of ultraviolet and infrared spectroscopy for the identification
        organic compounds
·      Describe the concept and utility of mass spectrometry for identification analysis
·      Understand the proper collection and preservation of drug evidence
·      Explain how alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, transported throughout the
       body, and eliminated by oxidation and excretion
·      Understand the process by which alcohol is excreted in the breath via the lungs
·      Understand the concepts of infrared and fuel cell breath-testing devices for alcohol
·      Describe commonly employed field sobriety tests to assess alcohol impairment
·      List and contrast laboratory procedures for measuring the concentration of alcohol
        in the blood
·      Relate the precautions to be taken to properly preserve blood in order to analyze

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      alcohol content
·     Understand the significance of implied-consent laws and the Schmerber v.
       California case to traffic enforcement
·     Describe techniques that forensic toxicologists use to isolate and identify drugs
      and poisons
·     Appreciate the significance of finding of a drug in human tissues and organs to
      assessing impairment

MODULE 6 / WEEK 7: Forensic Entomology
    Introduction to Forensic Entomology
           1. What is Forensic Entomology?
           2. How to become a Forensic Entomologist
           3. What are the various uses of Forensic Entomology

      Estimating Elapsed Time Since Death using Insects
             1. Overview of the two techniques currently used
             2. Introduction to blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae)
             3. Overview of blow fly development
             4. Types of cases in which insects are used
                            i. Human homicide investigations
                           ii. Animal Poaching
                          iii. Elder and Child abuse/neglect

      Introduction into Maggot Therapy

      Factors that must be considered when using insects as evidence
             Discussion of nocturnal oviposition of blow flies and various other
             environmental factors that must be taken into account such as season,
             climate etc.

      Discussion of the VENUS (Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea)

      Introduction to the procedures used for insect collection at a crime scene
             1. Overview of basic forensic procedures
             2. Outline of collection for different necrophagous insects

WEEK 8: Homework Catchup and Quiz

MODULE 7 / WEEK 9: Forensic Biology (Serology and DNA)
Overview and Introduction toDNA typing
          1. Serology and DNA Introduction –.
          2. Structure, function, genetic overview
          3. Population variation / types of DNA polymorphism


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             1. Introduction to current Evidence Screening procedures
             2. Introduction to Forensic DNA typing

      Forensic Issues
             1. Applications of DNA Typing:
                 Missing persons

             2. Interpretation of DNA testing

WEEK 10: Final Exam Preparation

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