Evidence Technology: Admissability of Laser Scan Data
“For decades, juries have made life-altering decisions based, in part, on static, two-dimensional photographs and diagrams. Today, highly accurate 3D visualization software transforms scan data into an informative, interactive, and compelling alternative.
In California, a jury was transported virtually into a vivid 3D crime scene along a rural country road. They were shown undeniable forensic evidence that lead them to convict a known gang member for the assassination of a sheriff’s deputy. And in a New Jersey court, a homicide detective used a single 3D image to utterly destroy the defendant’s claim of self-defense in the killing of his neighbor.
Virtual scene reconstructions such as these are made possible with 3D, 360° visualization software. The software combines panoramic scene photography with millions of data points and acts as a canvas onto which text, measurements, and links to media—such as scene photos, audio, and surveillance video files—can be positioned exactly where they were found in the crime scene.
Users can view, pan, zoom, measure, and mark up the point-cloud data over the Web on their Internet browser. If, during the trial, an attorney wants to know the distance from a doorway to a body, the measurement can be instantly displayed in the courtroom on a computer screen. Regardless of what data someone may request, it has all been captured. “So you’re not in a situation where somebody says, ‘Gee, we didn’t measure that when we were at the scene,’ or, ‘It is approximately this far just based on this scale drawing,’” Holloway said. “We can know exactly. We can pop it up right there on the computer, and it tells you instantly what those measurements are—which might be very critical to supporting or disproving the theory of a crime.”
And with the advent of CSI-based television entertainment, today’s juries expect to see physical evidence that supports the argument the attorneys are making. As a result, lawyers are becoming increasingly reliant on compelling images and scientific 3D animations created with the laser-scan data and visualization software to make their case. It is a powerful way to communicate what really happened at the crime scene.”