Thursday, June 28, 2007

Spector Case... experts or hired guns?


Guilty... of a hair-don't.
by blogger jgl


I have been following this trial in a half-assed sort of way. Some of the testimony bothers me. Sure, it is reasonable that 2 scientists come to different conclusions over "objective" physical evidence, but it seems like both sides are strongly declaring themselves right and the other side wrong. Scientists know it is not black and white. Do you have to fake it in court?

For example, Spector claims to have been 6 feet away from where the actress shot herself. He had blood spatter on him. Can blood spatter travel 6 feet? One person says blood spatter can only travel 2 feet. Another person says it's consistent with traveling 6 feet. They both are using different studies to support themselves.

DiMaio also defended his reliance on a German study of blood spatter in which a scientist shot calves to collect evidence on how far blood spatter can travel. American studies cited by the prosecution involved experiments shooting into sponges.

Can't we just have one expert giving both sides of the argument? (sure, that's a stupid question)

What really bothered me is a statement that DiMaio made that went something like... since 99% of oral gunshots are suicides, statistically, this is probably a suicide. Then he implies his "statistical reasoning" is just like DNA testimony.

Dr. Vincent DiMaio said he was basing his opinions on scientific evidence and not trying to help Spector, for whom he is working.

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson accused DiMaio of relying too heavily on statistics that the majority of women who commit suicide use handguns.

"Statistics don't get us any closer to the facts of this case, do they?" asked Jackson.

"If we didn't use statistics you would have to discard DNA," said DiMaio. "DNA is all probabilities."

I'm no statistician and don't know much about no logic... but isn't there a flaw with that comparison?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course two authorities can use the same evidence to come to different conclusions. To me, the evidence gives a third conclusion. Specter put the gun in Lana's mouth and Lana fought him. With her hands over his, when he pulled the trigger, blood splater would appear on her more than on him. No woman puts her purse over her shoulder to shoot herself in the mouth. The end. ;)

Anonymous said...

Looking at crime scene photos in this case, the gun is laying very neatly besides Ms. Clarkson left leg as if someone had placed it there. Ms. Clarkson was right handed. Wouldn't the gun have fallen on her right side if she committed suicide? That's suspicious enough to me that she did not committ suicide. CD

Forensic Bloggers said...

interesting theory on the hand covering his. that seems to be one reasonable explanation.

as for the location of the gun, although it seems likely that the gun would fall to her right side, it is hard to say. unfortunately, this is something that can't be studied directly, only inferred from other cases. I'm not sure if anyone has reported on gun location following suicide. I think it would be possible for the gun to fall in a semi-random way (60% to the right, 20% to the left, 20% in the lap). hard to say, but good thought.

-jgl

Anonymous said...

Just looking at it it seems as if its something kind of farfetched. With blood spatters appearing where they did, I would think he would have his hand in the dealing, but the problem would be to actually place him there in a situation that called for him to be there near the victim, but then again I'm just spectulatiung, but this has grabbed my attention and I surely will be looking for more details and probably give my two cents, but it really is soemthing to look at from another point of view.

JJD

Forensic Bloggers said...

you're right. as with a lot of physical evidence, it may tell you something you already know (blood spatter places him in the room), but not what you need to know (did he pull the trigger).

jgl

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