Denise drove her boyfriend, Eric, to a house party where he planned to pick up some equipment from a friend. While Eric met his friend in front of the house, Denise stayed in the driver seat of their vehicle outside. As he leaves, he gets into a verbal altercation with the resident of the home, but walks away into his car and drives off.
Four shots rang out from an automatic weapon near the house, with one hitting Denise in the head, killing her instantly. In order to escape, Eric had to bend down from the passenger seat and drive away with one hand on the accelerator and one on the wheel. After getting far enough away, he called 911.
When police went to the house to investigate, the resident, Dylan, told them that he fired in self-defense because Eric fired a round at him from the vehicle.
Police delivered their reports to the District Attorney, who believed Dylan’s story over Eric’s, even though no weapon was ever found in Eric’s vehicle. Eric was then charged with the first-degree murder of his girlfriend Denise because the DA found Eric initially responsible for the exchange of gunfire. Dylan was given immunity for his involvement in the shooting in return for his testimony during trial.
3D Forensic was hired by the public defender’s office two years after the shooting and only one month before trial to see if they could reconstruct the truth of the incident.
The team immediately visited the incident site to gather key forensic data. While at this inspection, the team searched for evidence of bullets fired. Two stray bullets were found across the street from the party, but no evidence of shots fired was found in Dylan's house. The team then laser scanned the area with trajectory rods denoting the locations and paths of the stray bullets.
They then went to inspect Denise's vehicle at the impound yard. Two bullets penetrated this vehicle, with one being the fatal headshot. The team tracked these shots with trajectory rods and scanned the vehicle to trace their paths.
After aligning the four shots to an origin point and then aligning the vehicle to the trajectories, the team realized that aspects of Dylan's story did not add up. First, Dylan said he was on the sidewalk outside his house when he shot back at the vehicle, and that the vehicle was approaching from his left when Eric fired at him. However, the angle of all four bullet trajectories fired into the vehicle and house across the street revealed that Dylan had to have fired from his front porch, which is 8 feet higher than the sidewalk.
Trajectory data also showed that the two stray bullets that missed the vehicle went into a house on the opposite side of the vehicle's alleged location. This meant Denise's vehicle had already driven past Dylan's house to his right when Dylan fired at the vehicle.
Further trajectory analysis revealed that the vehicle was most likely moving at about 18 MPH when the two bullets struck the vehicle based on the angle of entry and 2.6-foot horizontal distance. This contradicted Dylan’s account that the vehicle was parked when Eric shot at him, then started rolling away once he shot back.
After doing our analysis, we were able to prove that Dylan’s claims that he was standing on the sidewalk, that the vehicle was to his left, and was still during the shooting were false. Our analysis revealed that Dylan was standing on his porch, protected by trees, and that he fired four rounds after the car had already passed his position before his gun jammed. This shooting left two bullets in the vehicle and two into a neighboring house to his right across the street.
Once the jury saw our presentation, Eric was found not guilty of all charges.
**NOTE: Each case is affected by unique factors and requires an independent forensic approach. These case studies serve as general applications and are not universally applicable. The true identities of subjects, entities, and locations have been changed to protect anonymity.**
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