A study of the O.J. Simpson trial as an example for learning about the investigative techniques of a homicide.
Investigation Techniques of a Homicide The O. J. Simpson double murder trial is perhaps the most publicized case this decade. However, before the police can arrest Simpson and prosecute him, they must investigate. The investigation techniques LAPD used are used all over the world. CRIME SCENE Patrol officers received a disturbance call at Nicole Simpson’s residence. They arrived on scene and discovered two bodies. They looked around to see if the suspect is anywhere around then they checked to determine the two subjects were dead. The officers immediately contacted the detectives on duty and supervisors and then secured the area to ensure no contamination to the scene. The officers’ duties included making sure that no unauthorized people may enter the scene. They also have to protect all possible evidences left by the suspect. In the Simpson case, the officers did not do a very good job at securing the scene. They had allowed unauthorized officers the go through the scene, thus causing some contamination to the crime scene. This error had allowed the defense to attack the creditability of the police department. CAUSE AND TIME OF DEATH When the officers first arrived the scene, they saw two people lying in a pool of blood. The officers did not know if they were dead and if they were, how and when. After the medical examiner looked at the bodies and the wounds on the victims, he concluded that they were stabbed to death. The time of death was a bit harder to determine. Death caused some changes to the bodies. The investigator looked at the changes and was able to estimate a time of death. Some of the changes the examiners look for are: lost of body temperature, rigor mortis, and postmortem lividity. The body temperature will start to decrease after death. The body will also start to stiffen after death, this is call rigor mortis. Rigor mortis usually starts to set in two to four hours after death. Time of death can be estimated by the stiffness of the body. Another way to estimate the time of death is postmortem lividity. When the body ceased to function, gravity pulls the blood down and settled at the lowest points of the body. Postmortem lividity may appear on the body between half hour to four hours after death. The determination of the time of death is important in a homicide investigation. This information can give the police a viable suspect. It can also break the suspect alibi. EVIDENCES There were numerous evidences at the residence of Nicole Simpson. There were the bodies of both Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. There was a large amount of blood of both victims. There were also shoe prints and other evidences. These evidences could tell the investigators how the and where the victims were killed. The importance of crime scene security is once again emphasized here. On the bodies and the scene, there may be trace evidence from the suspect. These trace evidences could help the investigators learn about the suspect. There might be hair and clothe fibers transferred on to the victims by the suspect. These trace evidences can tell what sex, age, and race of the suspect. If the scene was not protected well against contamination, some of these trace evidences could be lost. The main evidences of this case are the bodies, blood, and the questionable bloody glove. The bodies were searched thoroughly and removed. Then the scene was searched for more obvious evidences and processed. Then trace evidences were searched for and collected. Since most of the evidences had blood on them, the were treated with extreme caution. The evidences were also collected in a paper bag to prevent moisture build-up, hence ruining the evidences. DOCUMENTING THE SCENE The first officers on the scene had taken some notes regarding the murder case. The investigators made more detailed notes. They also made sketches of the scene. They marked down where Nicole Simpson’s body was and the patterns which the blood splattered. They did the same thing with Ron Goldman’s body. The investigators also wrote down where every thing was found and marked them on their sketches. On their reports, there were the overall description of the scene, date time and location, victims’ description, and wounds of the victims. Numerous photographs were taken as well. With all these information, the investigators were able to reconstruct and estimate how the crime was committed. With the aid of computers, LAPD reconstructed what might have happened with computer animation. Photographs were also very important. Every inch of that crime scene was photographed. The pictures showed where everything was and the exact location of the evidences. All these pictures and the sketches and reports were used in court to help the prosecution. INTERVIEW POSSIBLE WITNESSES While the investigators processed the scene, the other officers and the detectives were locating and interviewing all possible witnesses. The statements taken from those witnesses could help the police determine the time of the incident and possibly a suspect description. All the neighbors of Nicole Simpson were interviewed. Their statements helped in the establishment of the time of the incident. Both Nicole and Ron’s friends were interviewed. The police found out why Ron Goldman was at Nicole Simpson’s house. The police also found out about the victim’s lifestyles in order to determine if they have any enemies who might do this to them. At the same time, the victims’ next of kin were notified. The police had already determined that the victims were murdered. Their biggest task was to find out who and why. O. J. Simpson was at Chicago during that time. He was shocked when he found out about the murder. After more interviews with the witnesses and friends of the victims, the police found out that O. J. had a history of domestic violence. Also some of the statements given by his limo driver and his house guest did not favor O. J. any. Soon the police narrowed the investigation and focused on O. J. When O. J. found out that he was the suspect of this double murder case he became suicidal and pacifically resisted arrest. He led the police on a fairly low speed chase in his white Ford Bronco driven by his friend. The chase was captured by the news media and gained the attention of the world. The chase ended at O. J.’s house where he turned himself in to the police. THE ELEMENTS OF CRIME The LAPD had arrested O. J. Simpson as the suspect of the double murder. They collected enough evidences to charge him with two counts of first degree murder. The chase with the police did not help him a bit. In order for O. J. to be tried for first degree murder, the prosecution must prove that he knowingly caused the deaths of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman after deliberation on the matter. Simpson’s house guest stated that he saw Simpson pulled up in the white bronco shortly after the time of the murders. The limo driver who drove Simpson to the airport said he waited for Simpson for fifteen minutes. All the times given by these witnesses coincide with the alleged time of the murders. The police investigations uncovered more evidences to link Simpson to the murders. All the testimonies showed that Simpson had actually planned the crime. He even had an alibi which was shaky. Simpson also had a history of spousal abuse. All the evidences pointed unfavorably toward O. J. Simpson. The elements of the crime the police needed were established and Simpson was formally Charged. DNA There were no fingerprints at the crime scene. However, there were some blood which belonged to neither victims’. Thanks to modern technology, scientists can detect differences in people’s DNA. DNA is the genetic fingerprint of a person. The principal of DNA identification is the same as fingerprints, no two persons can have the same composition. During the Simpson trial, the admissibility of DNA evidence was highly debated. The O. J. Simpson trial had ended for a year now. O. J. was cleared of murdering his former wife and her friend. The police is still investigating this case. The LAPD made some mistakes which allowed the defense to attack the creditability of the police. This showed the importance of protecting the crime scene. Other than these mistakes, the LAPD conducted a almost text book perfect investigation.