" /> Law students learn evidence-gathering techniques from experts | Today at Elon | Elon University

Law students learn evidence-gathering techniques from experts

Elon law students dusted for fingerprints and tested for invisible blood Friday, April 25 during "CSI Greensboro," an event which featured the various techniques used by crime scene investigators. Details...

SBI agent Gerald Thomas showed students examples of blood splatter and pattern evidence from crime scenes he has investigated during “CSI Greensboro,” held April 25 at the law school.
The hands-on seminar gave students a chance to learn about DNA testing, fingerprint identification and detection, blood detection and splatter, and general crime scene investigation. Professor Steve Friedland arranged the seminar for first-year students enrolled in Criminal Law.

Four breakout sessions introduced students to techniques used by experts to decipher events at a crime scene. Agent Gerald Thomas with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation showed students examples of blood splatter from various crime scenes he has investigated. “No two scenes are ever alike, but we’re able to use our experience, physics and common sense to try to figure out what happened,” Thomas said. For example, investigators can measure the angles of different splatter patterns, then use some simple physics and calculus to measure the distance and direction blood may have traveled. “We combine a lot of different skills to do our work,” Thomas said.

Frank Keegan, Binford Professor in the forensics program at Guilford College, showed students how to dust for fingerprints. Silk powder is used to find prints on hard surfaces such as desktops and hardwood floors, while magnetic powder locates prints in porous objects such as paper or styrofoam cups.

“An event like this gives our students a glimpse into the world of crime scene investigators,” said Friedland. “It’s important for them to see and understand these techniques, because they may well rely on evidence gathered using these methods as practicing attorneys.”