Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Search Warrants and Digital Evidence

From DFI News:

In a recent case scenario, an adult female victim indicated to the police that she had just been sexually assaulted by an adult male subject in his apartment. She stated that the subject forcibly removed her clothing and photographed the sexual assault. A rape kit was collected from the victim along with her clothing. Investigators obtained a search warrant for the subject’s premises and it was executed later that day. The warrant identified the location to be searched, the subject’s apartment, and the property to be seized: the clothing the subject was wearing at the time of the allegation, sheets from the bedroom, and cameras. The apartment was also to be processed for latent fingerprints and potential trace evidence. At the scene, the subject was arrested and advised of his rights. He indicated that no assault occurred and that he and the alleged victim had consensual sex. He further stated that when the alleged victim asked for fifty dollars before leaving, he refused to pay her the money. He claimed an argument pursued and that the alleged victim stated she was going to get him for not paying her the fifty dollars.

Investigators seized clothing, sheets, a digital camera, and processed the apartment for latent fingerprints. In the bedroom, investigators observed an operating laptop computer displaying a picture of the subject and alleged victim engaged in a sexual act. Although the computer was not listed in the warrant, it was seized by the investigators. All the evidence was submitted to a forensic laboratory for analysis. Due to backlogs in the laboratory, the analysis took six weeks to complete. The results were as follows:

(1) The subject’s DNA was identified on swabs from the rape kit.

(2) Fibers consistent with those from the victim’s blouse were found on the subject’s jeans.

(3) Cotton threads on one of the straps on the victim’s bra appeared to be torn.

(4) Two aluminum foil packets containing cocaine were discovered in one pocket of the subject’s jeans.

(5) Dried stains found on the sheets contained a mixture of DNA from the subject and the victim.

(6) Latent fingerprints found in the bedroom were identified as being those of the victim.

(7) Sweepings from the sheets contained fibers which were consistent with those from the victim’s jeans, blouse, and bra.

(8) The digital camera’s memory card contained several pictures of the subject and victim engaged in sexual acts.

(9) No additional pictures of the victim were found on the laptop computer’s hard drive. However, hundreds of other pornographic pictures and movies were found, many of which appeared to depict underage children.

After reviewing the forensic results, investigators additionally charged the subject with possession of a controlled substance and possession of child pornography.

Full article here.

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