In our final installment of How to use your PI, Nashville private investigator, Thomas H. Humphreys, offers a brief overview of crime scene analysis and how a professional investigator can help a busy lawyer.
Review of Crime Scene – Picking Apart the Prosecution's Work
Professional investigators are fact checkers, not advocates; but shoddy work or unscrupulous work by the prosecution should be exploited. A professional investigator with proficiency in police procedures can help you find flaws in work conducted by the police and the prosecution.
If the Officer-in-Charge provides a less-than-detailed narrative description, there may be a problem hiding behind his omissions. Are the first responder’s notes consistent with the OIC’s notes? Are there pages missing (are the pages numbered)? Details, details, details…
You will likely find it beneficial to have your professional investigator visit the crime scene, take pictures, make sketches, verify sight lines, etc. This simple act can turn up revealing inconsistencies.
Example: Key witness told police that he saw defendant beat the victim with a shovel in the alleyway. Police report indicated that witness lived in Apt. 7B. After comparing the crime scene sketches and photographs with the actual building, the investigator realized that apt 7B faced the street, with no windows facing the alleyway. There was no way the key witness in Apt. 7B could see a shovel fight, or anything else, in the alleyway.
The investigator spent two hours on site, measuring, videotaping, and drawing the scene. Upon return to the office, the investigator made a simple two-dimensional sketch showing the exact place of the crime in the alley and the view the witness had from unit 7B. The police tried to explain, but…
Turns out, the witness had a few outstanding warrants when this crime occurred, completely unrelated. The police, based on his later testimony, had indicated that if he said he saw the crime, they would forget about the outstanding warrants. Details, details, details…
As a criminal defense attorney, people and cases are likely tugging at you from every direction. Why not part out the routine tedium to a qualified professional investigator, and focus on matters of law. Leverage the expertise of your investigator, and you can be more effective. If used properly, a professional investigator can make you look smarter. Instead of burning up hours, most likely expensive hours, of your time canvasing, interviewing, and documenting, hire a professional investigator to do your legwork and, quite possibly, make your case.
NOTE: All anecdotes in this piece have been changed. Location, gender, and case specific details have been altered to avoid revealing any of our client’s information. The stories are taken from [FIND] Investigations case files, fellow professional investigators, and national news items.