22 September 2010

New technology helps convict domestic abuse suspect

Nice!  Glad to see that it was allowed.  This could give hope to other domestic violence victims who have no outward bruising or ‘not enough’.  Just about anyone that has ever been hit knows it sometimes takes days for bruises to appear and by then the cops have already left and decided there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest or press charges.

Source:  Baltimore Crime Beat: New technology helps convict domestic abuse suspect - Baltimore crime news: Police, courts and police stories in the city and central Maryland - baltimoresun.com

New technology designed to detect hard-to-see injuries has been successfully used to prosecute a domestic violence suspect in the city. Called an Alternative Light Source, staffers at Mercy Medical Center used it to detect bruises hidden under a victim's skin.

As a result, the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office says a 31-year-old man was found guilty of assault and sentenced to eight years in prison. A Baltimore Circuit Court judge allowed the Mercy nurse to testify about the technology.

Baltimore Sun reporter Kate Smith described the new technology in a story published earlier this month.

A statement from city prosecutors:

While at Mercy Medical Center, the victim was examined by Barbara Boal, R.N., F.N.E. – A, a forensic nurse with the hospital’s SAFE program. She observed and photographed bruising to the victim’s chest, back, and neck.
She then examined the victim using an Alternative Light Source (ALS), a technology that will allow its user to observe bruises underneath the skin and not yet visible to the naked eye.
Using the ALS, Nurse Boal was able to see additional bruising to the victim’s neck consistent with her report of being strangled with one hand. She also observed substantial bruising to the victim’s chest, caused by blood vessels bursting while the victim was deprived of oxygen during the strangulation.
For more details:

At the June trial, Nurse Boal was called as a witness. She was qualified as an expert in forensic nursing.  Just before she was to start the substantive portion of her testimony, the defense raised a Frye-Reed challenge to the introduction of any testimony based on the use of the Alternative Light Source technology because this type of expert testimony had not been litigated in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

A Frye-Reed hearing was conducted where the forensic nurse was the sole witness. She testified that the use of the ALS was standard at Mercy Medical Center, that it was used in other hospitals around the state and the nation, and that it was considered the best practice for visualizing bruising under the skin.

The judge found that the use of the Alternative Light Source was a generally accepted practice in the forensic nursing community and denied the defense motion to exclude testimony based on the use of the ALS. The assault trial lasted June 1, 2010 – June 7, 2010 and Johnson was found guilty of second-degree assault and sentenced June 15, 2010 to eight years incarceration.

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