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  Citation statistics : Table of Contents
   2015| July-December  | Volume 1 | Issue 2  
    Online since November 27, 2015

 
 
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REVIEW ARTICLES
The Role of the Subjectivist Position in the Probabilization of Forensic Science
Alex Biedermann
July-December 2015, 1(2):140-148
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.169569  
This paper is concerned with the contribution of forensic science to the legal process by helping reduce uncertainty. Although it is now widely accepted that uncertainty should be handled by probability because it is a safeguard against incoherent proceedings, there remain diverging and conflicting views on how probability ought to be interpreted. This is exemplified by the proposals in scientific literature that call for procedures of probability computation that are referred to as "objective," suggesting that scientists ought to use them in their reporting to recipients of expert information. I find such proposals objectionable. They need to be viewed cautiously, essentially because ensuing probabilistic statements can be perceived as making forensic science prescriptive. A motivating example from the context of forensic DNA analysis will be chosen to illustrate this. As a main point, it shall be argued that such constraining suggestions can be avoided by interpreting probability as a measure of personal belief, that is, subjective probability. Invoking references to foundational literature from mathematical statistics and philosophy of science, the discussion will explore the consequences of this interdisciplinary viewpoint for the practice of forensic expert reporting. It will be emphasized that–as an operational interpretation of probability–the subjectivist perspective enables forensic science to add value to the legal process, in particular by avoiding inferential impasses to which other interpretations of probability may lead. Moreover, understanding probability from a subjective perspective can encourage participants in the legal process to take on more responsibility in matters regarding the coherent handling of uncertainty. This would assure more balanced interactions at the interface between science and the law. This, in turn, provides support for ongoing developments that can be called the "probabilization" of forensic science.
  14 2,661 305
ORIGINAL ARTICLES
Transfer of Fibres onto Knife Blades in Stabbing Events: Distribution and Determination of the Stabbing Sequence
Michael Schnegg, Line Gueissaz, Jessica Rodriguez, Sabine Hess, Genevieve Massonnet
July-December 2015, 1(2):84-92
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.164659  
Knives are among the weapons most frequently involved in criminal cases. They represent the most encountered category of weapons in Swiss homicide cases (completed and attempted homicides considered) and are also frequently employed in assault cases, notably bodily injuries. Whenever a knife is involved in a stabbing event, DNA and fingerprints may be sought. When garments are damaged, fibres can also be investigated. Fibres from the victim's garments might transfer onto the blade of the knife used in the assault and can thus provide useful information to determine whether a particular weapon could have be used to stab the victim. This study simulates vertical stabbings into garments with the use of a special holding device. Different types of knives and blades straight or serrated were used as weapons. Two garments presenting different shedding capacities and garment structures were also considered for the simulations. The distribution of fibres transferred onto the blade (number and position) was recorded for each simulation performed. Sequences of stabbings into the two garments were also carried out to assess whether the order of the stabs could be determined. Several parameters were considered, notably the distribution of fibres transferred onto the blade. The transfer of fibres inside the stab damage ballistic soap was used in this study and on the area near the second damage was also investigated. This study provides new insight into the interpretation of fibres transferred onto knives after a single stab or a sequence of stabbings and into determining the stabbing sequence. Finally, the study brings some guidelines for the search and recovery of fibres on the crime scene and on the blades of knives.
  9 3,970 1,812
Bayesian Networks for the Age Classification of Living Individuals: A Study on Transition Analysis
Emanuele Sironi, Franco Taroni
July-December 2015, 1(2):124-132
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.162785  
Over the past few decades, age estimation of living persons has represented a challenging task for many forensic services worldwide. In general, the process for age estimation includes the observation of the degree of maturity reached by some physical attributes, such as dentition or several ossification centers. The estimated chronological age or the probability that an individual belongs to a meaningful class of ages is then obtained from the observed degree of maturity by means of various statistical methods. Among these methods, those developed in a Bayesian framework offer to users the possibility of coherently dealing with the uncertainty associated with age estimation and of assessing in a transparent and logical way the probability that an examined individual is younger or older than a given age threshold. Recently, a Bayesian network for age estimation has been presented in scientific literature; this kind of probabilistic graphical tool may facilitate the use of the probabilistic approach. Probabilities of interest in the network are assigned by means of transition analysis, a statistical parametric model, which links the chronological age and the degree of maturity by means of specific regression models, such as logit or probit models. Since different regression models can be employed in transition analysis, the aim of this paper is to study the influence of the model in the classification of individuals. The analysis was performed using a dataset related to the ossifications status of the medial clavicular epiphysis and results support that the classification of individuals is not dependent on the choice of the regression model.
  4 2,475 284
Forensic Automatic Speaker Recognition Based on Likelihood Ratio Using Acoustic-phonetic Features Measured Automatically
Huapeng Wang, Cuiling Zhang
July-December 2015, 1(2):119-123
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.169617  
Forensic speaker recognition is experiencing a remarkable paradigm shift in terms of the evaluation framework and presentation of voice evidence. This paper proposes a new method of forensic automatic speaker recognition using the likelihood ratio framework to quantify the strength of voice evidence. The proposed method uses a reference database to calculate the within- and between-speaker variability. Some acoustic-phonetic features are extracted automatically using the software VoiceSauce. The effectiveness of the approach was tested using two Mandarin databases: A mobile telephone database and a landline database. The experiment's results indicate that these acoustic-phonetic features do have some discriminating potential and are worth trying in discrimination. The automatic acoustic-phonetic features have acceptable discriminative performance and can provide more reliable results in evidence analysis when fused with other kind of voice features.
  2 2,826 333
Chemical Analysis of Tire Traces in Traffic Accidents Investigation
Line Gueissaz, Genevieve Massonnet
July-December 2015, 1(2):99-108
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.164660  
The aim of the forensic investigation of traffic accidents is to help establish the nature and/or the circumstances of the event. This might be done with the purpose of determining the legal responsibilities of each person involved or to provide families, with a reconstruction of the events, to help understand why their relatives were injured or killed. A methodology for the comparison of chemical profiles of tire traces and tire tread samples obtained by pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry has been developed. Chemical profiles are represented by relative abundances of 86 compounds. The variability of the tread within and between 12 tires was assessed. Considering the level of the source as "brand and model" the intra-variability was found to be smaller than the inter-variability, leading to the complete discrimination of the 12 tires of the sample set. Braking tests were carried out on a racetrack in order to produce tire traces which origin was known. The results obtained with a supervised classification method showed that more than 94% of the replicates of the traces were correctly assigned to the class membership (i.e., brand and model) of the tire at their origin. These results support that the chemical profile of one trace does not differ from the chemical profile of the tire at its origin but differs generally from the other chemical profiles of the sample set.
  1 2,963 432
Identification of the Mislabeled Breast Cancer Samples by Mitochondrial DNA Haplotyping
Xiaogang Chen, Di Lu, Ji Zhang, Feng Song, Haibo Luo, Zheng Ren, Wei Wei, Yiping Hou
July-December 2015, 1(2):133-139
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.170603  
The task to identify whether an archival malignant tumor specimen had been mislabeled or interchanged is a challenging one for forensic genetics. The nuclear DNA (nDNA) markers were affected by the aberration of tumor cells, so they were not suitable for personal identification when the tumor tissues were tested. In this study, we focused on a new solution - mitochondrial single nucleotide polymorphism (mtSNP) haplotyping by a multiplex SNaPshot assay. To validate our strategy of haplotyping with 25 mtSNPs, we analyzed 15 pairs of cancerous/healthy tissues taken from patients with ductal breast carcinoma. The haplotypes of all the fifteen breast cancer tissues were matched with their paired breast tissues. The heteroplasmy at 2 sites, 14783A/G and 16519C/T was observed in one breast tissue, which indicated a mixture of related mitochondrial haplotypes. However, only one haplotype was retained in the paired breast cancer tissue, which could be considered the result of proliferation of tumor subclone. The allele drop-out and allele drop-in were observed when 39 STRs and 20 tri-allelic SNPs of nDNA were applied. Compared to nDNA markers applied, 25 mtSNPs were more stable without interference from aberrance of breast cancer. Also, two cases were presented where the investigation of haplotype with 25 mtSNPs was used to prove the origin of biopsy specimen with breast cancer. The mislabeling of biopsy specimen with breast cancer could be certified in one case but could not be supported in the other case. We highlight the importance of stability of mtSNP haplotype in breast cancer. It was implied that our multiplex SNaPshot assay with 25 mtSNPs was a useful strategy to identify mislabeled breast cancer specimen.
  1 1,893 209
Detection of TNT by Surface Plasmon Resonance Based on Molecularly Imprinted Polymers
Hong Zhou, Ling Zeng, Xinming Chen, Hongxia Hao
July-December 2015, 1(2):109-113
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.162780  
2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) is a commonly used explosive. It is not only a threat to public safety but also causes environmental pollution, affecting human health. However, at this stage of TNT detection, technology cannot meet the demands of the current situation. To acquire a new method devoted to the study of fast and quantitative detection of TNT. It combines the molecular imprinting technique (MIT) with surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technology for high sensitivity. In this study, a molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) film for the detection of TNT was synthesized by heat in acetonitrile at 60°C, using the TNT imprinting molecule and azobisisobutyronitrile (AIBN) as initiators. In the present work, there are many factors that can influence the elution efficiency, such as raw material ratios,fore-reaction time, reaction time, etc. The polymers have the highest elution efficiency when raw material mole ratios [n(TNT):n methacrylic acid (MAA):n ethylene glycol dimethylacrylate (EGDMA)] were 1:4:8; the MIP sensor could detect a TNT concentration as low as 1×10-10 M. Compared to the blank polymer with the same chemical composition, the imprinted polymer had higher binding efficiency and higher selectivity.
  1 2,488 271
REVIEW ARTICLES
The Role of Forensic Examination at Trials in China
Baosheng Zhang, Yin Li
July-December 2015, 1(2):149-158
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.170604  
Expertise gains increasing acceptance and importance at trials in China. Currently, the forensic examination quality management system of China has been preliminarily established. There are problems, however, for example, laws and regulations related with forensic examination are not comprehensive, forensic institutes pursue their own economic profits excessively and judges sometime have undue blind faith in scientific evidence in fact-finding. These are hindering forensic examination from being put into full play duly. In 2005, the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the Administration of Forensic Examination strengthened the neutrality of forensic institutes. The Criminal Procedure Law and the Civil Procedure Law revised in 2012 initially set up the expert assistant system, which is expected to break the excessively credulous but unjustified belief in scientific evidence and solve pertinent problems. We need to focus on the following aspects: First and foremost developing a unified set of rules on forensic examination; secondly, judges need to strengthen their own ability to review scientific evidence and determine its reliability; thirdly, we should actively promote fundamental legal education reform to remedy the insufficiency of legal understanding of forensic science; and finally, the existing expert assistant system must be further improved to help judges and litigants effectively to identify and use expertise.
  1 2,689 308
BRIEF COMMUNICATIONS
Potential Application of Quantitative Prostate-specific Antigen Analysis in Forensic Examination of Seminal Stains
Zhenping Liu, Yang Yang, Zhikan Pan, Xiaoxu Zhu, Shi Feng, Dong Zhao
July-December 2015, 1(2):159-162
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.169640  
The aims of this study are to use quantitative analysis of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the seminal stain examination and to explore the practical value of this analysis in forensic science. For a comprehensive analysis, vaginal swabs from 48 rape cases were tested both by a PSA fluorescence analyzer (i-CHROMA Reader) and by a conventional PSA strip test. To confirm the results of these PSA tests, seminal DNA was tested following differential extraction. Compared to the PSA strip test, the PSA rapid quantitative fluorescence analyzer provided the more accurate and sensitive results. More importantly, individualized schemes based on quantitative PSA results of samples can be developed to improve the quality and procedural efficiency in the forensic seminal inspection of samples prior to DNA analysis.
  - 2,657 317
To Commemorate the 100th Year Anniversary of Forensic Science Education in China: A Brief Review of the Lives and Achievements of Forensic Science Pioneers from Zhejiang Province
Lin-Sheng Yu, Yan-Yan Fan, Jun-Ge Han, Xing-Biao Li, Guang-hua Ye, Xiang-Ping Feng, Yi Liao, Cai-Qun Xu, Qi-Yu Bao, Feng Li
July-December 2015, 1(2):163-165
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.167231  
Looking back at modern China's 100-year history of forensic science education, we have found a number of forensic science pioneers from the Zhejiang Province who have made historic contributions to forensic science education. This paper briefly reviews the lives and achievements of these pioneers in chronological order. They include Song-Ming Xu, Ji-Zu Wang, Lv-Gao Chen, Jin-Chang Zhu, Ying-Han Xu, Mei-Yun Wu, Jia-Zhen Zhu, Guang-Zhao Huang, Zhan-Pei Zheng, and Shi-Xian Chen. History is only worth writing about if it teaches us about the future. This historical review sets examples for both current and future forensic pathologists to learn from the contributions of these pioneers.
  - 1,999 196
COMMENTARY
From De Facto Fact-finder to Expert Witness? Transition of Forensic Examination in China
Thomas Y Man
July-December 2015, 1(2):75-83
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.170602  
Forensic examination plays an important role in China's judicial system, especially in the fact-finding process of both civil and criminal proceedings. Since 2005, this system has experienced gradual, yet significant changes. This paper seeks to examine the major themes of these changes in the context of the continued conceptual reformulation and structural realignment of civil and criminal procedures and the ongoing effort to codify evidence law with transforming impact on China's judicial system and culture. Emphasis is given to the transition of the forensic examination system from an officially (both administrative and judicial) administered fact-finding mechanism with powerful impact on the courts' truth-seeking activities to, at least partially, an expert witness system with significant participation and control by the parties' to judicial proceedings. A convergence of influence from both the continental inquisitorial tradition and the common law adversarial structure appears to have strongly informed the process and direction of the Chinese forensic examination reform. This paper attempts to explain the reasons for this convergence of influence, identify the trend and direction of this development, and provide observations and suggestions for further improvement of the forensic examination system in several key aspects with particular reference to the legal principles and judicial practices under the Federal Rules of Evidence of the United States.
  - 2,881 4,452
ORIGINAL ARTICLES
Ultrasound-Assisted Low-Density Solvent Dispersive Liquid-Liquid Extraction for the Determination of Amphetamines in Biological Samples Using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
Liang Meng, Wenwen Zhang, Pinjia Meng, Yuxian Liu
July-December 2015, 1(2):114-118
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.164654  
In order to control drug crime effectively, it is necessary to develop selective analytical methods suitable for unambiguous identification and determination of drugs in illicit samples and biological matrices. A novel microextraction technique based on ultrasound-assisted low-density solvent dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction, (UA-LDS-DLLME) has been applied to the determination of four amphetamines (methamphetamine, amphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, and 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine) in urine samples by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The parameters affecting extraction efficiency have been investigated and optimized. UA-LDS-DLLME used ultrasound energy to assist in the emulsification process without any disperser solvent. Under the optimized conditions, linearity was observed for all analytes in the 0.15–10 μg/mL range with correlation coefficients (R) ranging from 0.9886 to 0.9894. The recoveries of 75.6–91.4% with relative standard deviations of 2.5–4.0% were obtained. The limits of detection (S/N = 3) were estimated to be in the 5–10 ng/mL range. The UA-LDS-DLLME technique had the advantages of shorter extraction time, suitability for simultaneous pretreatments of batches of samples, and the higher extraction efficiency. It was successfully applied to the analysis of amphetamines in real human urine samples.
  - 2,188 204
Research on Several Inspection Methods to Determine the Sequence of Photocopying and Stamping
Jing Wang
July-December 2015, 1(2):93-98
DOI:10.4103/2349-5014.170601  
Determining the sequence of document production and stamping is one of the most important issues in the field of questioned document identification. In China, whether a contract or a document is legal or not, highly depends on the relationship between the generation time of the document's content and its stamping. Usually, a formal (legal) document would become effective once a seal is affixed, and normally, the content of the document is generated first and then subsequently stamped after being approved by the relevant personnel. Therefore, correctly identifying the sequence used to produce a document is necessary to determine whether it is authentic or whether it may have been forged. However, because of the interference of many factors, the identification of such kind of forged documents has long been considered one of the most difficult technical issues in the field of questioned document identification. In this work, four nondestructive approaches to determine the order of photocopying and stamping were investigated: The stereomicroscope method, fluorescence microscopy, the three-dimensional pseudo-color method, and the contour ring method. Each method is associated with its own advantages and disadvantages, but all have been shown to produce some useful results relevant for determining the sequence of photocopying and stamping.
  - 1,971 534