Spatter Chatter

Blood Does Not Lie

 Blood Does Not Lie

The idea of blood and its “spatter” traces seems ugly.  

Let’s be clear: it is.  Uglier still is an unsolved murder. 

We pursue this in the spirit of a better understanding of what happened August 2nd, 2006.

 

There’s no doubt both prosecution and defense teams are zeroing in on what crime scene evidence will prove admissible.  Not to prove, or refute, murder – which no-one has yet been charged with – but to demonstrate, or refute, the charges of evidence tampering, obstruction and conspiracy.

The defense’s job is easier – look for weak points in the medical report, on-scene police work, definitive signs of conspiracy, etc. – and raise reasonable doubt among the jury.  The prosecution’s task is to construct a coherent and definitively provable narrative that clearly demonstrates guilt in at least one of the 17 overt acts the defendants are charged with.

Both teams will avail themselves of every legal weapon they can to make their case.  Today we focus on what may be one of the prosecution’s sharpest foils – retired FBI Special Agent Robert Spaulding.

Blood doesn’t lie.  But it doesn’t always tell the full truth, either.

When it comes to “blood pattern analysis” – or spatter work – Robert Spaulding wrote the book.  Literally…or at least helped write it.  Now retired from the FBI and doing consulting work, Spaulding has testified at scores of  murder trials.  He has been recognized from the bench and by his colleagues as a leading expert at crime scene reconstruction, and has trained a new generation of forensic examiners.

We learned this summer that Spaulding is among the expert witnesses Glenn Kirschner intends to call during the trial.  We also note the following from the original indictment of Dylan Ward:

“A blood pattern/blood spatter expert examined the photographs of the scene and concluded that the blood stains and patterns on the bed are entirely inconsistent with a violent stabbing having been perpetrated against an individual lying on the bed depicted in Exhibits C and D.”

Robert SpauldingIt’s not clear that this expert was in fact Spaulding; however it goes without saying that Spaulding will back this claim up on the stand…and bring with him years of experience and knowledge in reconstructing crime scenes. 

One person who has worked with him over the years calls him “…one of the best…and one of Kirschner’s biggest assets.”

Looking ahead, we will soon post on an interview just conducted with another experienced spatter analyst who offered general thoughts about how blood analysis works – as well as some candid observations of the Wone case. 

The interview was eye-opening, and may provide some insight into what we can expect next May on a topic that promises to figure large at trial.

posted by Doug

15 comments for “Spatter Chatter

  1. Clio
    11/11/2009 at 12:59 PM

    I’m glad that these “assets” such as Mr. Spaulding are being tapped: Glenn, don’t blow this one!

    The spot of blood on Dyl’s comforter: whose is it and what does its shape, color, and viscosity say about the actions of the children’s book author?

  2. Craig
    11/11/2009 at 1:43 PM

    Clio – Robert Spaulding is more a crime scene analyst than a DNA jock I think. He’ll be looking at the scene and trying to reconstruct what did or did not happen.

    We still haven’t heard how that spot found on Ward’s comforter has tested, whether it was blood or not, and whose it was.

  3. Clio
    11/11/2009 at 8:19 PM

    Well, if the blood spatters and patterns are “entirely inconsistent” with what the trouple’s official story says happened, then how can Henry C. Lee and other experts, even with their considerable invoices, argue against “entirely” inconsistent? “Entirely” means 100%. Wouldn’t even the television-driven Lee legend suffer if he argued against “entirely”?

    • Bea
      11/11/2009 at 9:16 PM

      Never forget how ‘clever’ Dr. Henry Lee can be – I refer, again, to the Michael Peterson trial for murdering his wife (bludgeoned her in the stairwell of their home).
      ____________
      “Along with pools of blood on the floor and lower steps, defense expert, Dr. Henry Lee testified his client’s hallway also contained an astounding amount of blood spatter — estimating there were 10,000 blood drops. Having been paid a pretty penny for his thoughts, Lee told Michael’s jury the scene was so bloody, it was beyond what he would expect to find — even after a brutal beating.

      The scientist’s traumatic words had a blunt force: ‘Too much blood for a beating.’

      Of course, if there was too much blood for a murder, there was surely too much blood for an accident.

      Not unlike Mr. Lestrade’s response — when Dr. Lee was asked what event would result in a scene bloodier than that of a beating, he shrugged and said it was a mystery.

      The mysterious incident becomes clear when the crime scene evidence is viewed as a whole. In Lee’s word’s “You have to look at the totality.”

      Bearing in mind the blood-soaked soles of Kathleen Peterson’s feet and the wet blood spatter on top of dried spatter, it’s reasonable to conclude that after Michael beat his wife and left her to die, she was able to revive herself. She struggled to her feet and probably surprised Michael, who panicked and beat his wife again — mercilessly.

      5,000 blood drops became 10,000 as Michael poked, punched, kicked and choked his “soulmate.”

      Afterward — most likely realizing there was far, far too much blood for a clumsy slip down the stairs — Peterson tried to clean away some of the blood with towels. The useless endeavor was abandoned. Time was becoming an issue, but calling 9-1-1 had to be delayed until the scene was arranged. He spent an hour hiding items, preparing fake props, re-positioning his wife’s corpse, and — among other odd things — removing his shoes and socks. ”

      http://www.peterson-staircase.com/too_much_blood.html

      • Clio
        11/12/2009 at 10:36 AM

        Ugh! So, Dr. Lee could say that there was too little blood for tampering — here, Henry may say that the case ought to be dismissed, because the intruder(s) must have been especially meticulous janitors. Check (for Dr. Lee), please!

        • CDinDC
          11/12/2009 at 12:21 PM

          But we still haven’t seen the forensic testing results of what was removed from the house. So, we don’t know yet what amount of blood was found where in the rest of the house.

          As far as the guest room, I think I remember a drop of blood fell to the bed linens. I recall something about an unbroken path or something to that effect, which would mean that Robert’s body was not disturbed enough for that drop to get smudged or altered, etc.

          Given the heroics that Joe supposedly performed on his dying friend, you’d think there would be evidence of that in the blood patterns, etc.

          • Bea
            11/12/2009 at 3:19 PM

            I agree that the “evidence” as we know it suggests that SOMEONE cleaned the scene (i.e. ‘tampered’) strictly from a common sense perspective – still want to know about the drop of blood on Dylan’s comforter of course. But my fear resides in that Dr. Lee has no problem testifying to ridiculous conclusions. The documentary ‘Behind the Staircase’ (while in a sense apologetic to the defendant from some perspectives) shows the defense attorney and Dr. Lee behind the scenes trying to find some way to piece together a ‘testimony’ to clear the defendant – appalling.

            • CDinDC
              11/12/2009 at 3:48 PM

              So, Dr. Lee was actually helping to come up with a story to fit the evidence? That is appalling.

              • Bea
                11/12/2009 at 4:08 PM

                And allowed himself to be filmed doing so. And “took advice” from counsel about what sounded right, what didn’t. Despicable. Personally, I’d use that film to discredit him on cross if there was a way to work it in. Just the testimony that there was ‘too much’ blood for a beating so he couldn’t have beaten her to death – yet a fall down the stairs is more plausible to cause it?

                • CDinDC
                  11/12/2009 at 4:20 PM

                  Is there some sort of legal action that can be taken against someone that does this? Obviously, his testimony is influenced, if not perjured.

                • CDinDC
                  11/12/2009 at 4:24 PM

                  Then there is this jewel: “On May 23, 2007, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler, the judge in the Phil Spector murder trial, said that he had concluded Dr. Henry Lee hid or accidentally destroyed a piece of evidence from the scene of actress Lana Clarkson’s shooting.”

                  • Bea
                    11/12/2009 at 4:53 PM

                    Yeah, if I recall correctly, he was accused of finding the victim’s fingernail and making it ‘disappear’ and wasn’t allowed/decided not to testify.

                    • CDinDC
                      11/12/2009 at 5:59 PM

                      Back in the day, Dr. Lee was one of the preeminent forensics specialists. Now he’s selling his soul. Very sad.

                    • Clio
                      11/14/2009 at 9:16 PM

                      I know. Yet, how many people from Taiwan get to play the Connecticut squire? Dr. Henry C. Lee and the American Dream/Nightmare — coming to a theater (or courtroom) near you!

                      Why is he in Turkey? Istanbul this time of year could be quite lovely — particularly on the trouple’s dime.

                    • Craig
                      11/15/2009 at 12:53 PM

                      Bernie did say that Dr. Lee’s globe trotting mayyy prevent him from remaining on the case. This could mean the defense might have to shop for another expert.

                      Hopefully we’ll get the Nov. 6 status hearing transcript soon. That exchange was rather… amusing. Or surreal.

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