Case Study Example: Ashley Smith's Homicide Case

2021-06-11 08:24:24
7 pages
1891 words
Boston College
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Case study
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The phrase homicide characterizes the act of one person killing another (Fitz-Gibbon, 2014). In the United States, homicide cases are categorized in several classifications. Such include murder, manslaughter, capital punishment, justifiable homicide, euthanasia as well as killing in war. In order to be categorized in each of the stated categories, the homicide is dependent on the circumstances of a victims death. In the United States, homicide is considered to be a serious crime and perpetrators are sentenced to long periods in prison. This essay is an analysis of a homicide event that took place at 11/3/00 along 9170 Old Annapolis Road and involving a fourteen-year-old victim known as Ashley N. Smith. The essay discusses whether the murder weapon, DNA and suspects confessions were obtained legally by the law officers who were assigned to the case and whether they can be used in a court of law.

Brief Overview of Homicide Cases in the United States

Different homicides are treated differently in various societies. While some are considered to be a crime, others are considered legal and even sanctioned by some of the countries legal systems. Nevertheless, in the United States, homicide cases are chastised by the judicial system through imposing strict penalties on the crime perpetrators  (Roth, 2012). In most cases, homicide criminals are sentenced to over two decades in prison or even issued the capital sentence for their crime. In addition, there is two primary categorizations of homicides in the United States. Such include criminal homicides and state-sanctioned homicide.

In most homicides, the crime is normally premeditated (Humphrey & Palmer, 2013). During homicide cases, the crime perpetrators are subjected towards a mental health examination before being tried in court. The judicial system also considers the extent of the homicide crime when trying a person in the court of law CITATION Gra10 \l 1033 (Newman, 2010). If the mental health reports conclude that the crime perpetrator is mentally disabled, he/she cannot be executed. Instead, he/she is placed under the classification of insane. Additionally, the United States also permits government sanctioned homicides. Such include the court verdicts of death for convicts due to the severity of their crimes. Ultimately, the federal government does not execute prosecutions for all forms of homicides that could occur during war.

Personal Reflections on the Case

In light of the featured case involving Ashley Smith, the homicide investigation was well executed, and the right homicide perpetrator was apprehended. There are few reasons as to why it is plausible that the homicide case was well investigated. First, there was good documentation and recording of the process of the homicide investigation of Ashley Smith. Detailed records in homicide play an important role in helping the homicide detectives to check out all parts of a case over and over again. The filed records make a murder book in the law enforcement parlance, and it could also be referred as the case file.

In Ashley Smith's homicide case, the murder book featured all the steps that were taken by the homicide detectives during the investigation. It also featured the witness statements, crime scene photos as well as forensic reports, which are all crucial information in solving a homicide case. Second, the featured homicide case was also executed at an appropriate timeline. The timeline is an integral part of every homicide investigation because when executed the right way, it can open or close the various avenues of investigation. It could also aid in breaking the suspected homicide perpetrators alibis and as such solve the case. Additionally, the investigators used a good timeline to learn everything pertaining Ashley Smith's final days.

Also, from the timeline investigation, they were able to know her friends, hobbies, and habits, which were all essential in solving the case. Third, a follow-up of every lead in the crime investigation was performed by the homicide investigators. This was possible because the homicide detectives kept an open mind about the causes as well as possible perpetrators of the crime. This can be evidenced in the case file by the reason that the detectives performed hundreds on interviews with all persons who might have known the victim. Also, after the $8,000 reward for any helpful tip was made, the detectives made a follow up on hundreds of the information tips that were offered to the public (CCJS 341 Case Study Project). Ensuring that all leads are followed in a homicide increases the chances of solving the case.

Fourth, the homicide detectives treated everything at the crime scene as evidence. This is imperative in every homicide investigation as it aids in narrowing down the information pertaining the victims causes of death and potential perpetrators of the crime. At the location where Ashley Smith's body was found, there were two neoprene caps that lay close to the victim. There was also a blue heavy winter jacket. From the case file, the two things were treated as evidence, and they were helpful in identifying both the victim and crime perpetrator. Other things that were treated as evidence included the folding lock blade knife that was submitted by the Richard Wayne Myers and he discovered it at the Bendix Road while working. The knife later turned out to be the murder weapon.

Investigation of the Crime Scene and Evidence Analysis

In a homicide investigation, the homicide crime scene is the most imperative location where the homicide investigators commence their investigation. This is because so as to understand the events that occurred at the crime scene, a thorough analysis of the various pieces of evidence at the scene must be executed. The statements obtained from direct witnesses can also be considered to be primary evidence to support the investigation of the crime. Additionally, the success of a homicide case is highly dependent on the initial actions that were taken up by the police, from the time the crime is reported.

In Ashley Smith homicide case, there was a very rapid response to the scene of the crime from the moment the crime was reported. After the crime was reported by Irvin Fornoff and his co-worker William Birmingham, PFC. Malcolm responded to the area quickly. After reaching the scene of the crime, he assisted in maintaining the security of the scene and in placing the barrier tape to secure evidence for the investigation. This rapid response is immensely important in homicide cases as it aids in securing the evidentiary materials at the scene of the crime so as to ensure that they were not altered, destroyed as well as lost.

This method of securing the evidence during the case was also essential as it promoted the collection of accurate evidence for the investigation. After the crime scene was well secured, PFC. Malcolm contacted the homicide investigators. Up to this point, the correct procedures for securing a homicide scene had been made and ultimately, this aided in the successful closing of the investigation in the later days. In addition, after the homicide investigators arrived at the scene of the crime, the secured region was classified as the primary crime scene. This is because the homicide investigators determined the scene to the actual place where the crime took place. It was also the scene where the physical traces of evidence for the crime were found.

The analysis of evidence at the scene was also well executed. The process started with the identification of the victim based on what she wore and body attributes like the mark of the large mole on the back of her body. The dew rags found at the scene were also investigated. The forensic examiner also collected all evidence from the victims body and prepared them for filing. The collection of evidence was also recorded using photographs and video recording, both from the ground and from a helicopter. This was important as the photographs could also be used as tangible evidence before a court of law, after the criminal had been apprehended.

The investigators also conducted a thorough search for the murder weapon at the scene of the crime. This was important since it would have been used as the primary evidence in prosecuting the crime perpetrator. Moreover, there are several dimensions that should have been considered when securing the scene of the crime. Such entailed clearing the largest possible area around the region the victim was discovered. This region can always be reduced after investigators examine the region. The first policeman to respond to the scene of the crime should also have made a fast and objective evaluation of scene, based on factors such as the location of the body, eyewitness statements as well as other physical evidence available among others. This could immensely aid in the attainment of sufficient evidence for analysis.

Investigative Steps and Strategies Employed in the Homicide Investigation Process

The homicide case involving Ashley Smith victim, employed a comprehensive investigation process with a wide range of investigative steps and strategies. The first step entailed the response of a police officer at the scene of the crime after a public member reported the crime. This was done promptly in order to secure the scene of the crime for the homicide investigation. During this step, the law enforcement officer should also check whether the victim is alive. Nevertheless, according to Ashley Smith's homicide file, the victim had been stabbed countless time, and she had already lost a lot of blood. It was certain that she had died since the blood on her body was already dried.

The first officer at the scene then contacted the homicide detectives after securing a perimeter around the scene of the crime. After the homicide investigators had arrived at the scene of the crime, they collected evidentiary materials and structured measures for identifying the victim. This step was important as identifying a victim immensely aids in determining the persons who interacted with him/her during the last hours of his/her life. This is also essential in securing good leads on the potential homicide perpetrators because in most homicide cases, victims are murdered by persons they might have known. It also aids in determining the persons who should be interviewed in connection with the crime.

This stage was then followed by the interviewing of different possible leads to the case. In Ashley Smith's homicide file, the interviews were performed on her mother, Heather Thomas and other persons who had been friends with the victim. Such interviews were important as they aided the investigators in establishing the baseline information pertaining the possible perpetrators of the crime. This procedure was then followed by the execution of an autopsy examination. This is important, and it was performed by a forensic pathologist. The examination aided in determining Ashley Smith's cause of death at the crime scene. The murder book documented that she had died from multiple stab wounds on her stomach, upper back, neck, and skull.

This was essential as it aided the homicide investigators in ascertaining the possible murder weapon. This step was followed by the execution of the second interview with Ashley Smith's mother, Heather Thomas and the victims other friends and acquaintances. This is essential as it aids the homicide detectives in cross-checking the respondents alibis and in collecting any possible lead to the case that the respondents had failed to mentioned during their first interviews. Moreover, this step entailed a broader interviewing of possible leads including persons who had not been interviewed during the first interview s...

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