Imagine sitting in the jury box desperately trying to piece together all of the fragmented pieces of evidence into one distinct crime science in your head. As you sit there and listen to witnesses, police officers, and even experts describe the crime scene and series of events, all the descriptions begin to run together and after several days of testimony you become confused. To add to the confusion of your job, testimony given by the witnesses seem to contradict one another. When presented with physical evidence of the crime scene you become more confused as you try to remember the testimony and how that testimony fits with the images you are finally presented with.
This is a common problem, jurors tend to get confused about the process and the trial in general.To help combat juror confusion regarding mentally re-constructing the crime scene, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is working on implementing the use of new 3D scanners throughout the state of Ohio. BCI officials claim that these 3D scanners can help investigators and juries feel as though they have entered the crime scene without ever leaving the jury box. “These high-tech tools allow authorities to quickly scan a scene and record a detailed 3D world, capturing an entire crime scene before it’s compromised.” Megan Timlin a BCI analyst explained that the scanner scans 360 degrees around the room or rooms of a crime scene, a high- tech laser then captures millions of data-points, and then the scanner takes hundreds of high-resolution photographs. These high-resolution photographs are then carefully mapped onto the data-points. The software converts the mapped data-points and imagines into a 3D recreation of the crime scene the same day. For several great crime scene sample videos and further explanation please click here.
This 3D recreation essentially allows the jury to be able to see what the witness, victim, and/or defendant saw on the day the crime occurred. BCI specialist, Byran White,explained that this technology can help clarify some doubt in a trial where the crime scene layout is important. For example, if the jury is told a gun was shot by John Doe facing down the hall toward the kitchen and the bullet entered roughly at five feet in the kitchen wall next to the back door, this technology would allow the jury to walk through this scenario within the limits of the virtual crime scene. In essence, the jury would be able to walk in the footstep of one of the parties and view the crime scene as they match it with the described story. For example, they may be able to clearly see that if John Doe was walking down the hall toward the kitchen as his story states, then there is no possible way the bullet could have entered in the kitchen wall near the back door because there is a wall in the way or some other obstacle that makes his story incomplete or impossible.
This new technology may greatly help both the prosecution and the defense. If the jury is unable to make a decision, they may hang. If the jury hangs, then both sides have to take more time, money, and resources to re-try the case. However, this new technology may assist the jury in reaching a verdict if this particular jury is looking for hard evidence, some forensic or CSI evidence, or needs more clarity in order to reach either a guilty or not guilty verdict. Having a basic grasp on the crime scene may help juries sort through the evidence with more precision. The majority of the population are visual learners, by including this new technology, it can be argued that more jurors will be able to understand the crime scene; therefore, will be better able to compare and contrast the testimony given to the scene. It can also be argued that if jurors better understand the evidence presented they may be less likely to fill in the "holes" of the story. Although this is a relatively new technology it has immense potential to affect the way attorneys put on their case, enter evidence, and even how jurors deliberate and consider evidence. This may play a major role in the near future in regards to how juries function and what juries will expect to see as evidence.