Nova (1974–…): Season 40, Episode 2 - Forensics on Trial - full transcript

Nova investigates forensic science and examines how what is often perceived as rock solid forensic evidence can sometimes lead to wrongful convictions. It looks at a cases where false fingerprint and tooth impression matches have lead to wrongful accusations and convictions. It also examines how MRI and CT technology are now being used to determine causes of death. Finally, it examines problems in the forensics of the O.J. Simpson murder case and looks at how crime scene investigators use computers to record crime scenes in minute detail.

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There is a crisis
in forensic science.

The most trusted
crime fighting tools

responsible for hundreds
of thousands of convictions,

may not be as bulletproof
as once thought.

There's a laundry list
of forensic techniques

that are now scrutinized.

Fingerprints may not be
as unique as we thought.

Nobody's ever questioned
fingerprints before.

And decades-old techniques

like blood spatter analysis
and bite mark comparisons

are being exposed as more art
than science.



Killers are walking free,

and innocent people
are going to prison.

I don't belong here.

I'm innocent.

Can new technologies

help put the science back
in forensic science?

Now, researchers and crime scene
investigators

venture into
the not-so-distant future

where avatar detectives
enter murder scenes

to witness the moment of death.

We can see the body
on the floor.

Forensic engineers

make identifications from
fingerints of glass.

And coroners conduct
virtual autopsies,



peeling back layers
of 3D victims,

exposing once undetectable
evidence of murder.

Now, NOVA puts forensics
under the microscope

to see how good science
can go bad

and how to make getting away
with murder a thing of the past.

Right now on NOVA--
"Forensics on Trial."

♪ NOVA 40x02 ♪
Forensics on Trial
Original Air Date on October 17, 2012

== sync, corrected by elderman ==

Major funding for NOVA is
provided by the following...

March 11, 2004.

7:30 a.m.

Rush hour.

Ten bombs rip through Madrid's
crowded commuter trains.

191 people are killed,
more than 1,800 wounded.

It is the worst terror attack
in Spain's history

and bears the hallmarks
of Al Qaeda.

The scale of these attacks
has horrified Spain.

Soft targets chosen,
no warnings given.

The international manhunt
that follows

triggers a crisis
in forensic science

that will shake it
to its very foundation.

...knew about the shoddy work
of the FBI special agent.

Forensic techniques trusted
by police for over 100 years

are shown to be
dangerously flawed.

...served 18 years in prison

for a murder he did not commit.

Killers are walking free

while innocent people are sent
to prison, and even death row.

This was a gross perversion
of justice.

The investigation to find
the Madrid bomber

sends shockwaves through
the forensic community.

And it all starts here.

In a commuter parking lot
ten stations away

from where the bomb went off,
Spanish police find a van.

Inside is a blue plastic bag

containing bomb-making
materials.

It could be a huge break.

It's possible fingerprints have
been left behind

on the bag itself.

The idea that every person's
fingerprint is unique

has been a foundation
of forensic investigation

for over 100 years.

But this case poses
a potential challenge.

The lines and ridges that form
the distinctive patterns

of fingerprints left on evidence
are created from sweat and oil.

A print left on plastic, like
the bag recovered in Madrid,

can be easily wiped off
or distorted.

Mark Acree is a former FBI
fingerprint analyst.

Plastic bags by their very
nature are nonporous.

The fingerprint is sitting
on the surface,

and it's very vulnerable
to being smeared or smudged.

But there are established ways

to recover prints
from nonporous surfaces.

Evidence ranging from gun
handles to keys to plastic bags

are placed in an airtight
chamber.

Inside, a chemical called
cyanoacrylate,

more commonly known
as superglue, is heated up.

Its vapors coat the sweat
and oil of the print

with a sticky white residue,
making the print visible.

But it does have limitations.

Superglue chemically alters
the lines of sweat and oil

and can even obscure details
of a print's unique pattern.

Using this method,

Spanish investigators recover
a partial print on the bag.

They rush digital photos to
forensic labs across the globe,

including the FBI.

Examiners first need
to determine

if there are enough lines
and details in the ridges

for a clear comparison.

Ridge details are broken down
into distinctive shapes,

like dots, that look
like islands,

endings, where ridgelines
terminate,

and intersecting lines
called bifurcations.

From the Madrid bomber's print,
the FBI is able to zero in

on seven unique traits
for comparison.

Now they look for a match.

They take the image,
they encode it,

and then it's launched
against this database.

From over 47 million criminals,
federal employees,

military personnel and people of
national security interest,

the FBI's supercomputer
identifies 20 prints

that contain some of the same
distinctive traits

as the Madrid print.

Examiners require that 12 unique
traits correspond

to declare a match.

The FBI identifies
one of the 20 prints

that actually shares
15 traits in common

with the one found in Madrid.

It comes from the left index
finger of this man,

a 37-year-old former
U.S. Army lieutenant...

and a convert to Islam,

Brandon Mayfield.

As a lawyer now living
in Portland, Oregon,

Mayfield recently represented
a convicted terrorist.

The FBI sneaks into his home
while he's at work...

taps his phones,
collects samples for DNA

and watches his wife
and children.

On May 6, 2004, just two months
after the bombing,

the FBI moves in.

They pushed their way
into my office.

They took my hands behind my
back, and they handcuffed me.

I didn't know what they were
searching and arresting me for.

They never told me.

This fingerprint match

sparks the arrest
of American Brandon Mayfield

as the bomber responsible
for the murder

of nearly 200 people--
Spain's 9/11.

A fingerprint top
counterterrorism officials

now tell Newsweek magazine
is a, quote,

"Absolutely
incontrovertible match"

to Portland attorney
Brandon Mayfield.

Mayfield insists
on his innocence.

He hires his own
fingerprint analyst

to testify at a pretrial
hearing.

The expert's testimony is not
what Mayfield expects.

He sd, "It's a match."

That's when I knew the train
to a death penalty

had just pulled out
of the station.

Federal agents take Mayfield
back to jail to await trial.

Hours later, half a world away,

Spanish investigators make
a stunning discovery

that changes
Brandon Mayfield's life.

I was told that the Spanish
police had found

that this fingerprint belonged
to an Algerian;

that it wasn't me.

Spanish police determine

that the fingerprint belongs
to this man--

Ouhnane Daoud,
a known terrorist.

News from Spain.

A fingerprint found on a bag

linked to the Madrid
train attacks

belongs to an Algerian national,
not Brandon Mayfield.

Mayfield is released from jail
after 15 days.

Now the question
on everyone's mind is,

how could this misidentification
happen?

It's a question that will
eventually make its way

to the United States Congress.

The similarity between
Mayfield's print

and the bomber's is undeniable.

It challenges a century-old
pillar of forensic science--

that no two prints are
identical.

We always assumed
that fingerprints

are very, very unique.

But what the Mayfield case
demonstrates

is that parts of a fingerprint
can be so similar

that it's possible
for two people

to be identified
to one latent print.

The U.S. Congress

calls on the National Academy
of Sciences,

the nation's most prestigious
research institution,

to conduct an investigation

into all forensic technologies
and techniques.

In July 2009, they release
their report.

In short, they find

there's not enough science
in forensic science.

The big news was that forensic
science was fractured.

Jessica Gabel is
a professor of law

and frequently lectures
on the NAS findings.

It lacks the rigors,
the standards,

the quality controls
and procedures

that we find usually in science.

And in that light,

forensic science actually
can sometimes contribute

to wrongful convictions.

The Madrid bomber case

is a perfect storm
of forensic flaws.

Only a partial print is
recovered on a plastic surface,

and that is eventually
distorted.

There is also a surprising
similarity

between parts of Mayfield's
print and the real bomber's.

Together these could have led

to the conviction
of an innocent man.

Can modern science prevent this
from happening again?

The answer is deceptively
simple--

examiners need a way

to expose more of fingerprints'
unique details.

I was talking
to Dr. Shaler...

Akhlesh Lakhtakia and his team

at Penn State University's
Materials Research Institute

are eyeing a new technology that
promises to do just that.

His project got wings
from a fly.

A fly's ability to elude capture

fascinated Lakhtakia
since he was a boy.

Before you can approach the fly,

the fly has seen you somehow
or the other,

and has flown off.

Lakhtakia wonders if the
structure of the fly's eye

gives it a unique ability

to see predators approaching
from all angles.

To find out, he turns to an
ultrathin material called CTF--

Columnar Thin Film--

to make an impression
of the minutest contours

of the fly's cornea.

Each square inch of the film

contains billions
of glass bristles.

It forms a layer 200 times
thinner than a sheet of paper.

When it coats the fly's eye,

the bristles conform
to every peak and valley.

The result is that microscopic
nooks and crannies

show up in stunning
three-dimensional detail.

The technology isn't helping
Lakhtakia catch flies.

But it does give him an idea
for how to catch criminals.

Could this technology be used

to get the same incredible
detail from a fingerprint?

This film would reproduce
the topographic features,

the geography, if you will,

of the ridges
in the fingerprint.

If CTF can capture
a fingerprint,

it could revolutionize
forensics.

But will it work?

The team places a fingerprint
on a glass slide.

The slide is loaded
into a chamber

called a thermal evaporator.

Inside the evaporator,

the fingerprint is sprayed with
a microscopically thin layer

of vaporized glass.

Unlike superglue,

the glass does not chemically
alter the oils

that form the print.

After about 30 minutes,
the glass bristles harden

into an ultrathin film that
preserves minute details.

Even with the naked eye,
the CTF print reveals ridges

that would be missing
in a superglue print.

With the new technique, the
ridges are far more prominent.

You can see creases.

Like, this is a crease.

This is a crease.

This is another crease.

Under a microscope,

there are exponentially
more ridgelines.

With this technique,

examiners
in the Madrid bombing case

could have had more points
for comparison

and a better chance to match the
fingerprint to the real bomber.

The CTF fingerprint technique

is currently being reviewed
for use in the field.

But fingerprint analysis
is not alone

on the list of forensic
disciplines

currently under the microscope.

There's a laundry list
of forensic techniques

that are now scrutinized based
on the NAS report--

bite mark evidence,
footwear impressions.

There's no real science
behind it

as much as it's just trying
to match patterns.

And if that matching process
goes bad,

people's lives are changed
forever.

May 23, 1991.

2:10 a.m.

In a rural community
outside Syracuse, New York,

police and firefighters rush
to a blaze at a farmhouse.

Flames shooting up
the front of the house.

Beautiful big
two-story farmhouse.

The occupant of the home,

49-year-old Sabina Kulakowski,
is missing.

I took on deputy,

and we went up this laneway,
worked our way up to about here.

She was nude.

Just about totally covered
with blood.

She had been stabbed
numerous times.

A distinctive bruise
catches his eye.

We noticed a bite mark
on the side of the body.

But it gets worse.

At the autopsy,

Ecker sees bite marks on her
breast, belly and back.

We discovered that
there was at least

four more sets of bite marks.

These marks could be the key

to identifying Sabina's killer.

Dr. Lowell Levine is a leading
expert on forensic dentistry.

The teeth cause a pattern
injury in skin.

The person will actually close
their teeth down on some tissue.

So a bite mark is really
a bruise.

And it's basically a bruise
with patterning.

Bite mark forensics is based
on the idea

that everyone's teeth create
distinctive patterns.

To find a match, forensic
dentists, or odontologists,

make a wax impression
of a suspect's teeth.

Then they try to match
the pattern

made by the size, shape
and spacing of the teeth

on the wax impression

to a photo of the bruise
on the skin of the victim.

What we're basically doing

is looking for similar
characteristics

in similar locations.

In the murder
of Sabina Kulakowski,

it doesn't take long to find a
suspect to compare for a match.

Investigators learn that six
days before the murder,

a hard-drinking 31-year-old
is released from prison.

His name is Roy Brown.

After a Cayuga County, New York,
social service agency

takes away his daughter,
he threatens a massacre.

What was said was,
"What do you want?

"Do you want me
to come down there

and open up on
you all with an Uzi?"

Sabina Kulakowski worked

at the Cayuga County
Social Service Agency.

Police interviews with Brown's
ex-wives reveal a bombshell--

when he gets mad, he bites.

Brown denies involvement
in the killing.

I gave them all kinds
of samples and tests

to show it's not me.

I gave them all kinds of hair
samples, saliva samples,

blood samples, you name it.

He allows authorities

to take a wax impression
of his teeth.

It reveals
a distinctive pattern.

Brown is missing two teeth.

This leaves wide gaps
in the wax impression.

The bruise on the victim
should have the same gaps

that correspond to Brown's
missing teeth.

But it only has a gap
on the right side.

It appears Brown's teeth
don't match the evidence.

The forensic odontologist

examines the bite pattern
evidence.

He thinks it shows that Brown
bit down and, like a pit bull,

twisted his mouth
into the victim's skin,

obscuring any gap
on the left side.

Based on his interpretation
of the bite marks,

he declares a match.

Police charge Brown
with first-degree murder.

I said, "You're making a real
serious mistake.

It ain't my teeth, man."

And they said, "Well, we got
confidence in our dentist."

And that was it.

A jury finds Roy Brown guilty.

He's sentenced to 25 years
to life.

Brown spends the next 15 years
in jail

trying to prove his innocence.

I don't belong here, you know?

I'm innocent.

I turned my cell into an office,
became my own attorney.

Brown pores over
every scrap of evidence.

11 years into his sentence,
he finds a clue.

It's a statement taken from one
of the firefighters

on the night of the murder.

The firefighter's name
is Barry Bench.

He's the former brother-in-law
of the victim.

They were fighting
over her possession

of his family's farmhouse.

Transcripts reveal that police
questioned Bench

is whereabouts the night
of the murder.

Brown finds something suspicious
in Bench's statement.

He says, "I left in my 1983
Datsun Century car

"and went to Jake's Tavern.

I stayed there
until 12:30 or 1:00."

Bench states he then drove home.

But to Brown,
something doesn't add up.

He has to drive right
by his family farm--

the house that's in flames.

You're going to tell me in
the middle of the dark night,

a gigantic ball of fire that big
is just burning away,

and he doesn't notice it or stop
or anything?

And he's a fireman.

Brown sends Bench a letter
on December 24, 2003.

He accuses Bench of murder.

"Well, Christmas is tomorrow.

"My gift to you is,
mark my words--

"they will eventually find out
about your guilt.

Have a Merry Christmas but don't
count on a Happy New Year."

And I sent it out to him.

And I got a hell of a response.

Five days later,

Barry Bench lays down in front
of an Amtrak train.

Police become suspicious

and decide to compare
Bench's DNA

to saliva recovered
on the victim's t-shirt

found at the crime scene.

They match
with almost 100% certainty.

Still, the judge believes
that the bite mark evidence

is strong enough
to keep Brown in prison.

There is only one way for Brown
to prove his innocence--

exhume Bench's body

and compare his teeth to
the marks left on the victim.

The case is assigned
to Dr. Lowell Levine

at the New York State Forensic
Science Unit in Albany.

He faces two key questions:

Did Roy Brown do it?

And if not, who did?

First, Levine reviews
the forensic evidence

that convicted Roy Brown.

He compares the bite marks
on Sabina Kulakowski

to the wax impression
of Brown's teeth.

I can positively tell you

Roy Brown didn't cause
the bite mark on the skin.

There is no way

that Roy Brown could have caused
this area in here.

While the right side of the bite
mark has a space,

the left side does not.

The bite mark evidence used
to convict Roy Brown

was based on an implausible
interpretation.

It is impossible to get
a marking

if you don't have a tooth.

Forensic bite mark evidence

is more art than it is science.

There is a lot of varied
interpretation

that goes into that.

One thing is clear--

Roy Brown did not murder
Sabina Kulakowski.

After 15 years in prison,

47-year-old Roy Brown
is finally released.

He sues the state of New York
and wins $2.6 million.

What about Barry Bench?

Levine examines the teeth from
Barry Bench's disinterred jaw.

But there's a problem.

Trauma from the train injury

and body decomposition
from being buried

limits Levine's ability to make
a bitemark analysis.

By looking at what we were able
to find on Mr. Bench,

I can only tell you it's
possible he could have caused

the bite marks
on Ms. Kulakowski.

Barry Bench's badly
deteriorated remains

prevent Levine from making
a more definitive match.

The Sabina Kulakowski murder
case is still open to this day.

So what if there were a way
to perfectly preserve evidence,

including bodies, and be able
to access and examine them

in a pristine state, no matter
how much time passes?

In Sweden that's already
happening.

The corpse inside this body bag
may be the victim of a crime.

It's what police suspect,
but have no way to prove.

That's the job of Dr. Anders
Persson and his team.

They are about to perform
an autopsy.

But this is no ordinary
cut-open-the-cadaver job.

In Sweden's Center for Medical
Image Science and Visualization,

this man is about to be sliced
up in a virtual autopsy.

It begins inside
this CT scanner.

It's like an X-ray on steroids.

Regular X-rays scan
just the outline of bones.

But CT scans use
a rotating X-ray.

It takes 12 images per second,

creating cross-sectional slices
of bone, thinner than a dime.

These image slices are stacked
side by side,

forming a stunning picture
of a body's skeleton.

Dr. Persson's team also scans
the body through an MRI

to search for evidence of damage
to organs.

MRIs create a map of the body's
tissue slice by slice,

using powerful magnets
and pulsing radio waves.

The victim is never removed
from the body bag.

With the click of a mouse, the
covering can be made invisible

to get a virtual peek inside.

What we're seeing here

is the cadaver inside
of the body bag.

And right here is the zipper
of the body bag,

which is obviously metal.

We have made everything else...

the plastic of the bag
is now transparent.

The team merges the CT
and MRI data

to produce a 3D model
of the suspected murder victim.

Now, the virtual autopsy begins.

I can use a virtual knife
and go into the body.

We get rid of the soft tissue,

and then I look for small
fractures in the skeletons,

and for small bleedings.

Some of these fractures
and other evidence

are invisible to the naked eye.

The most critical are gases.

Gas is a huge problem when
you do a normal autopsy.

We can't see it.

Gases escape the body
as it's cut open

in a standard autopsy.

But in the virtual corpse,

Dr. Persson can punch
through the skin

without releasing gases.

If he finds
trapped gases inside,

it could be a telltale sign
of strangulation.

When you try to strangle
someone,

you squeeze your hands.

The pressure in the lungs
goes up,

the pressure in the trachea
goes up,

and the air goes out
in the soft tissue.

Normally, air flows directly up
and down the throat,

or trachea.

But when a victim is strangled,
the air is cut off

and the pressure forces air
outside the walls of the throat.

In the virtual autopsy,
gases show up as blue.

Dr. Persson uses his digital
scalpel to get a closer look.

In the soft tissue
outside the trachea,

he sees something suspicious.

He calls
Detective Conny Petterson,

one of Sweden's federal crime
scene investigators.

There shouldn't be blue color
outside the trachea.

That's not normal.

And it seems that it could be
a strangulation.

The virtual autopsy

may have uncovered clues
to a murder.

This technology is proving
so effective,

Dr. Persson and his team

at Sweden's nearby
Interactive Institute

are designing a portable
application.

Called the Virtual
Autopsy Table,

it's putting digital slice
and dice at their fingertips.

When it comes to medical
visualization,

the user interaction design
is really important.

What you want is an easy-to-use
and simple system.

It's like a giant iPad.

Designer Thomas Rydell uses
simple hand gestures

to peel back skin,
arteries or bone.

It fulfills the very meaning
of the Greek word autopsia--

"to see for oneself."

Right now we're looking
at a woman

who had a ruptured aneurism
in the brain.

And then by rotating, we can
look inside the brain.

So by just using
simple gestures,

you can control really advanced
and huge medical data.

And the team has created
a dynamic way

to share investigations
visually...

virtual autopsies in 3D.

I can see a future when it will
be a very powerful tool

to show the findings
in front of a jury

or also during
the investigation.

No matter how long ago
the crime,

investigators will see the dead
as clearly as the day they died.

But incredible as this
technology is,

many of the most trusted
forensic disciplines

come down to interpretation.

And with interpretation
comes error.

Human error touches every aspect
of forensic science,

because every aspect
of forensic science

requires a human interpretation.

Dr. Robert Shaler

founded the forensics program
at Penn State.

He led the DNA identification
of the victims of 9/11

at the World Trade Center.

He is also one of the authors

of the National Academy
of Sciences' report.

I have to begin to question
my own training,

things that I've believed
my entire career.

I agree with the National
Academy report.

We need to look
at the scientific basis

of these determinations.

One area he is working
to improve

is blood pattern analysis--

an important and frequently
used tool

for crime scene investigators.

Shaler created
this "blood cottage."

Here he simulates crimes,

then applies rigorous analysis
to the bloody mess.

He hits me, picks up
a baseball bat.

But this is difficult evidence
to interpret.

He hits me a second time.

There's blood spatter
on the wall.

Shaler and his colleagues

invent violent scenarios
of bashes and slashes.

Using sheep's blood,
Shaler and his partner in crime,

Ralph Ristenbatt, carefully
recreate a blood pattern

from a knife wound to the neck

and an impact blow
from a baseball bat

using a stand-in
for a human skull--

the severed head of a pig.

It's the best thing short
of actually hitting somebody.

Blood splatter

seems helter-skelter
to the untrained eye,

but blood forms patterns
in several ways--

drips from wounds, pools from
blood draining from the body,

spatter, the result
of impact blows,

and spurts
from severed arteries.

Examiners can use this evidence

to recreate a crime
step by step.

And it can even tell them the
type of murder weapon used.

Because knives have
very thin edges

they have a tendency to produce
these kinds of patterns.

So what we see here

is an elongated droplet
with a very thin point.

And we know that it's going
from left to right

because it's pointing in the
direction that it's moving.

So what we'd like
to do now is to...

Now Shaler brings in future
crime scene investigators

to interpret the bloody mess.

That interpretation can mean
the difference

between a suspect's innocence
or guilt.

We can see

that there are bubbles
in the blood,

which indicates that there's
saliva in with it,

which makes it seem that it came
from the person's mouth.

And analyzing the angle
of the blood marks

can help investigators pinpoint
the location of each impact.

So we can infer
that this came first,

and then as the body fell
to its final resting place,

there was a second blow,
and then the pool of blood.

Investigators reverse-engineer
from the pool of blood

to reconstruct the story
of the crime--

exactly where the struggle
took place,

how many times
the victim was hit,

what kind of weapon was used,

and the step-by-step movements
of the killer.

But even the best-trained
analyst can misread that story,

especially if the evidence
itself is compromised.

It's an alarmingly
common problem

which the NAS says is caused

by a lack of standard
forensic practices.

Nowhere has this issue
received more attention

than in one notorious case cited
in their report.

On June 13, 1994,

about 12:10 a.m.,

in an upscale Los Angeles
neighborhood,

these bloody paw prints of a dog

lead police to the site
of a horrific crime scene.

Detectives discover the body
of a woman in a black dress.

Her throat is slit so deeply,
her head is nearly decapitated.

It is Nicole Brown Simpson,

the estranged wife
of football legend O.J. Simpson.

Her friend Ronald Goldman
lies nearby,

stabbed more than 20 times.

Making sense of this crime scene
is a challenge.

And this investigation
is compromised

before it even starts.

Dozens of police and reporters
roam through the crime scene,

smearing the blood and tracking
it with their feet.

The forensic team finds
several shoe prints,

but there's no way to tell
which prints belong to police

and which belong to the killer.

Renowned forensic investigator
Dr. Henry Lee

is one of the expert witnesses
during the trial.

He believes any blood pattern
evidence

found at this murder scene
is rendered useless.

Once you step on the bloodstain,
you change the pattern now.

The contamination of the crime
scene and evidence

only gets worse.

Just before 5:00 a.m.,

detectives race
to O.J. Simpson's home,

two miles away.

Simpson is not there.

A houseguest lets police in.

In O.J.'s bedroom they find
crucial evidence--

this pair of dark socks.

Forensic examiners at the LAPD

find four bloodstains
on the socks.

Two located near the calf area.

One is the ankle area, and the
other one near the toe area.

Through DNA, a person's
genetic fingerprint,

the lab finds that three
of the bloodstains

belong to O.J. Simpson

and the fourth belongs
to Nicole Simpson.

That's very crucial
for the case.

Why?

Because that's a direct linkage.

Puts O.J. Simpson, suspect's,
socks at the scene,

and victim's blood somehow
transferred to the socks.

DNA, when properly analyzed,

is the most scientifically sound
forensic evidence.

Matching a suspect's DNA

to evidence like blood
found at a crime scene

gives police near
statistical certainty

that they have the right person.

DNA is based on hard science.

There is chemistry,
there is biology,

there is math involved with it.

The NAS report singled out DNA

as this pillar of what the other
parts of forensic science

should inspire
and ascribe to be.

Nicole Brown Simpson's DNA

found on the socks
in O.J.'s bedroom

is crucial evidence used
to link him to the crime.

Police arrest him for the double
murders of Nicole Brown Simpson

and Ronald Goldman.

Simpson' s trial lasts
more than nine months--

the longest in California
history.

Jurors make their decision
in just four hours.

We the jury in the above
entitled action

find the defendant,
Orenthal James Simpson,

not guilty of the crime
of murder

in violation
of Penal Code Section 187A...

It is a stunning and, some say,
shocking verdict.

DNA on the sock irrefutably
links Simpson to the victim.

Even Dr. Henry Lee,

Simpson's defense team's chief
forensic scientist, admits that.

So how did the jury
find him not guilty?

The O.J. case really revealed
the problems that can happen

before the evidence
ever gets to the lab.

The O.J. defense team

casts doubt on nearly
every piece of evidence,

illustrating how police
contaminated the crime scene,

and suggesting even worse--

actually planting evidence
to frame Simpson.

Dr. Lee points out clothing

the LAPD presented
from Simpson's bedroom.

Well, let's bring
two pictures up.

You see a suspender.

And the suspender actually runs
over the end of the bed

near the box spring.

But you have a second picture.

The suspender actually stopped
next to the bed,

did not go over.

So of course,

this obviously tells us
somebody moved the suspender.

The moving suspender

is one of many contamination
problems.

More critical are
the bloody socks

that directly link Simpson and
the murder victim through DNA.

This LAPD photo shows
the socks on the floor.

But testimony
from a police videographer

claims earlier in the day
there were no socks.

How can the socks
be there at 4:35

when you just saw they're
not there at 4:13?

O.J.'s defense team suggested

the LAPD put the blood on
the socks and planted them.

Who's fooling whom here?

The legitimacy of other evidence
is also questioned.

This bloody envelope was moved.

A crucial fingerprint
on this gate was lost.

Shoeprint evidence was not
collected properly.

Time after time

the defense put the evidence,
not O.J. Simpson, on trial.

I think it's absolutely
a question

of how the evidence was handled.

The prosecution simply couldn't
prove beyond a reasonable doubt

that O.J. Simpson committed
that crime.

It's a classic case study in
what can go wrong with evidence.

Beyond the question of O.J.
Simpson's innocence or guilt,

the NAS report suggests
justice cannot be served

if the crime scene
is compromised.

But what if police had a tool

that could create a digital
clone of the crime scene,

a perfect record
to eliminate any doubt

about evidence being moved
or contaminated?

Well, here they do.

When we come into the house,

we find a victim who is laying
down on the kitchen floor.

There's a large amount of blood
around the head area.

From the amount of trauma
that we see on the body

and the amount of blood evidence
that we see on the walls,

we have evidence of a struggle.

Detective Jeff Locklear
starts piecing clues together.

The landlord
of this abandoned house,

who discovered the body,
heard rumors of a squatter

and came to check it out.

Through the window
of the back door

he says he may have seen
the killer.

When I heard the scuffling
and saw the guy run out...

Our witness says that
he came in through this door,

and then he saw the suspect flee
through that window.

And then he looks down
and he sees a body

right here on the inside of the
kitchen, just inside this wall.

Sorting this one out
will be messy.

But, thankfully,
none of this is real.

It's a simulated crime scene,

designed to test a secret
high-tech weapon

called IC-Crime.

It is being developed by faculty

from North Carolina State
University.

David Hinks and his team
use a 3D laser

to create a 360-degree view
of the crime scene.

Then, using the virtual replica,

they'll attempt to reconstruct
the crime.

A 3D scan will actually take
an image

of every piece of visible
evidence in a room.

It means that you have
a permanent record.

You can go back to the scene
again and again and again.

The scan team starts

by recording millions of tiny
points of the crime scene

with an invisible
infrared laser.

They record the victim's
exact position,

the severe trauma to his head,
blood spatter on the walls,

and what appears to be
the murder weapon.

So when we get it back into
the lab and we've aligned it,

you'll be able to see
various viewpoints

coming in from different angles
in the house.

It's a forensic dream come true.

To be able to go back at any
time of our choosing

and be able to view it, be able
to interact with the evidence,

it's awe-inspiring,
if you ask me.

With the murder scene digitized,

the data is now ready
to go virtual.

And for that,
the laser scanners partner

with some unlikely colleague
in crime-- video gamers.

Inside North Carolina State's
Digital Game Research Center,

director Michael Young
and his team

are using similar technologies

as in games
like Grand Theft Auto.

Game engines provide
a fantastic opportunity

for serious applications
of the technology

like crime scene investigation.

The crime scene is built
on data triangles

from the laser scan.

Each triangle is one surface.

And they line up perfectly.

So you have a triangle here
and then a triangle here.

And you keep doing that, until
you have an entire surface.

Next the team overlays

high-resolution photos
of each room,

enabling detectives to see
views from any angle.

With the 3D replica complete,

lead scanner David Hinks
attempts to corroborate

the witness's testimony

that he saw the killer leave
through the window.

He positions himself

to where the landlord said
he was standing

when he discovered the body.

Now we're in the scene.

I'm standing virtually
at the back door to the house.

The eyewitness said that he
didn't actually enter the house,

but he could see
through an interior window

through to the next room.

I heard somebody scuffling.

You know, running, like.

So when I looked across
that's when I saw a guy,

looked like he was going out
the window out here.

Hinks discovers that
from where the landlord

was standing outside, he can't
see into the scene of the crime.

You can't see through this door
and onto the exterior window,

as the eyewitness indicated.

Let's go down into the kitchen
and then look to the left,

through this open area.

Now we can see
the exterior window.

So the eyewitness must clearly
have been around this location

to be able to see anybody
leave from this window.

The landlord's story
doesn't add up.

Hinks doesn't have to rely
on his own interpretation.

The scanner proves the landlord
had to go into the house

to see the killer.

And there is another
inconsistency.

An interior door behind the body
was open when police arrived.

We can see the body
on the floor.

You can see the blood spatter.

You can see the hammer here.

What we can do virtually
is close the door.

It's clear
from the spatter pattern

that the door had to be closed
during the event.

The landlord stated that
no one entered the house

immediately after the murder.

But someone opened the door.

The IC-Crime technology
allows investigators

to step into the scene and catch
the landlord in two lies.

That makes the landlord
a prime suspect

in this simulated murder.

With a perfect record
of the crime scene,

police can be sure it's the
suspect who's put on trial

and not the forensics.

So now our intent is

that we're linking
our virtual environment

to various databases.

Project manager Mitzi Montoya

believes the power
of the IC-Crime system

is that it replaces intern

with objective facts.

We now have a way to collect
all the data

and the information
about a scene,

keep that in a single record,
in a single environment,

where forensic experts,
wherever they might be,

distributed around the country
or around the world,

can interact and interpret
that information.

In addition
to a virtual crime scene,

investigators will one day
add the very best

of new forensic technologies
being developed,

like 3D fingerprints,
virtual autopsies and DNA.

That evidence can be presented
by prosecution and defense,

assessed by medical examiners
and forensic scientists,

and judged firsthand by a jury.

These technologies will ensure

the most reliable evidence
is presented and interpreted

in the service of justice.

Technology moves us forward.

It gives us the ability
to do things

that we weren't able
to do before.

It gives us the ability
to answer questions

that we didn't even think
of asking before.

In the future, these
technologies may put science

back in forensic science,

and make sure police put away
the right criminal every time.

== sync, corrected by elderman ==

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