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Organic vs Inorganic

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Organic versus Inorganic
Jeremy Merritt
CRJ 311 Forensics
Instructor Janice Bella
March 4, 2013

Organic versus Inorganic
Growing up as a kid I was forced to watch the television shows my parents enjoyed. During that era murder mysteries were extremely popular. Shows like Jake and the Fatman, Colombo, Matlock, and Murder She Wrote just to name a few. None of those shows relied heavily on science per say, moreover, those shows were written with the most insignificant clue becoming the one piece of evidence that is the key to the whole case. Just as dated as those television shows, so is the investigative practice. Present day, almost all investigative crimes involve the collection of forensic evidence that is broken down into two categories: organic versus inorganic evidence. This paper will detail the differences between organic and inorganic evidence, explain the strengths and weaknesses of each, and breakdown the significance of either organic or inorganic evidence as it travels through the justice system from the crime scene to prosecution.
The way evidence collected can be broken down into two categories; organic and inorganic. According to Saferstein (2011), “Organic substances contain carbon, commonly in combination with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, phosphorus, or other elements. Inorganic substances encompass all other known chemicals substances. Each of these two broad groups has distinctive and characteristics properties (p. 123, Para 3). In laymen’s terms, organic evidence is biological evidence that has once lived (i.e. blood, hair, or any liquid that originates from a human or animal). Whereas, the second category inorganic evidence; it’s the non-biological evidence collected at a crime scene. Inorganic evidence has never lived before (i.e. bullets, fiber evidence, chipped paint, murder weapon, a rock or water).
The reason why organic and inorganic evidence is such an important aspect to solving crime, because without it the investigation would solely be based on eyewitness accounts. If those eyewitness accounts do not lead to anything promising then the case becomes extremely difficult to solve. With the emergence of DNA, it added another piece to the crime solving puzzle; biological evidence.
If we were to consider the kidnap and murder case of Special Agent (SA) Enrique Camarena and his pilot Alfredo Zavala from last week’s assignment, we can use the evidence collected from the case to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the inorganic and organic. If you recall how and where the two decedents were found; they were bound and dumped in a shallow grave. With all the branches of law enforcement chasing down leads, it was the botched body dump that allowed both the organic and inorganic evidence to work together to tell the story of what really happened.
The trace evidence that was found on this discarded bodies resulted in the revelation that the soil (inorganic) that was tested collected at the scene was not the same place where the bodies were initially buried. However, the hair and blood (organic) that was found in the Mercury Gran Marquis was in fact the vehicle that was used to transport SA Camerena body. In this particular case the evidence worked in concert with each other.
The nature of crime often results in potential evidence being subjected to less than pristine conditions or being exposed to the environment for extended periods before being collected from a crime scene. This will sometimes limit the quality and quantity of biological material such that a single attempt at analysis may be all that is possible. Biological evidence can be stable and amenable to analysis for decades provided that it has been stored in a dry, air conditioned environment away from ultraviolet light and protected from bacterial and fungal growth. (Watterson, Blackmore, & Bagby, 2006)
Prior to the implementation of DNA evidence being used to solve crime, all crimes were solved inorganically. The most common thread of evidence that was used to locate criminals was fingerprinting. If a fingerprint was matched to someone else other than the victim’s that’s how suspects were pursued. The impact of DNA changed the pursuit of criminals.
The impact of using organics to solve crime made the pursuit of criminals centered and strategic. According to the Department of Justice (2002), “Advancements in DNA analysis, together with computer technology and the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), have created a powerful crime fighting tool for law enforcement. CODIS is a computer network that connects forensic DNA laboratories at the local, State, and national levels. DNA database systems that use CODIS contain two main criminal indexes and a missing person’s index. When a DNA profile is developed from crime scene evidence and entered into the forensic (crime scene) index of CODIS, the database software searches thousands of convicted offender DNA profiles (contained in the offender index) of individuals convicted of offenses such as rape and murder.” (p. 2, 3)
If soil was collected at a crime scene its inorganic travel through the justice system onto prosecution starts with the proper collection of the soil. The objective is to allow the collected evidence to receive a substantial scientific examination. Once the examination has been completed and the soil will either identify or exonerate a suspect (Saferstein, 2011, p. 14). Once a suspect has been identified the report generated from the investigation, formal charges are entered, and the forensic evidence linking the defendant to the case will be what the prosecution will use to seek the punishment that suits the crime. The defendant can opt out of the trial if he or she would take a plea deal to avoid going to trial. If the defendant refutes the scientific evidence, then the case is bound over for trial.
Once a trial date is set and the trial begins, the prosecution will present its case for the purpose of seeking a conviction against the defendant. The expectation of the prosecution is the forensic evidence that ties the defendant to the crime scene, will be enough for a conviction. The defense’s job is to try their case detailing on the arguments behind DNA testing as a tool in determining the defendant was wrongfully charged are presented.
In conclusion, this paper detailed the differences between organic and inorganic evidence, explained the strengths and weaknesses of each, and addressed the significance of inorganic evidence as it travels through the justice system from the crime scene to prosecution. Organic and inorganic evidence can work in concert with one another. Organic evidence can identify the suspect through saliva, blood, or any biological substance; while, the inorganic evidence like paint chips, broken glass, or bullet fragments to help answer the question for what type of weapon was used.

References
Saferstein, R. (2011). Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science. (10th ed.) Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education
U.S. Department of Justice.gov. (2002). Advances in DNA Technology: Using DNA to Solve Cold Cases. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs National Institute of Justice Retrieved from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/194197.pdf
Watterson, J., Blackmore, V., & Bagby, D. (2006). Considerations for the analysis of forensic samples following extended exposure to the environment. Forensic Examiner, 15(4), 19-25. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/207654692?accountid=32521…...

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