Sum it Up! #54

sum it up In this Sum it Up, we explore forensics and wrongful convictions.

Identifying 9/11 victims

On Aug 7, the Washington Post reported that “the remains of a man killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11 have been identified nearly 16 years after the terror attacks.” The article explains that 2’753 people were killed on September 11, 2001. However, only 1’641 are identified.

This latest identification is the first since March 2015. Identification of all the remains found is still ongoing.

If you wish to learn more about the process please check this article. Here forensic pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek explains what happened in what order. Melinek wrote a book about her experiences. “Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner” came out in August 12, 2014. In this book Melinek shows you real morgue work. It will give you a sharp contrast to the glamor depictions of autopsy work on TV shows.

Forensic Arson Detection

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) published a much-needed assessment on fire investigations. As you can read on my blog, we have some cases were people were wrongfully convicted for arson that later turned out to be accidental fire. The report that came out last July discusses the validity and reliability of forensic practices.

The report “bases for fire investigations, and sets forth what we know, what we do not know, and what the gaps are. The study is divided into the two main aspects of fire investigation, the fire scene and the debris analysis. The 25 recommendations in the report constitute a roadmap for further research.” The report can be downloaded.

The beauty of this report is that the AAAS also released a plain English version of the highly detailed technical report. In doing so, they make the practices used to evaluate a fire accessible to the public and provide transparency needed for proper evaluation.

Colin Warner

The movie “Crown Heights” tells us about Collin Warner. Warner spent 21 years in prison for a 1980 fatal shooting in Crown Heights. He was lucky to have a friend, Carl King, who investigated the case and pushed for his exoneration. Warner’s life turned around when his co-defendant, Norman Simmonds, confessed to Warner’s lawyer that he shot Mario Hamilton outside Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush in April 1980. Not Warner.

Warner’s lawyer, William J. Robedee, quickly filed a request to vacate the conviction. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office joined in that request. Justice John M. Leventhal of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn immediately granted it. Warner was officially exonerated in 2001. Crown Heights will open in theatres tomorrow.