Who Shot the Bullet? Projectile Composition Characterization as an Evolutionary Method for Enhancement of Ballistics Evidence Analysis

Ashley Newland, Emilynn Banks, Jan Halámek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Toolmark and Firearm examiners’ opinions have fallen under scrutiny as inadmissible ballistics evidence has led to the possibility of wrongful convictions and cold cases that could have been solved with the presence of a physical bullet, casing, and/or weapon at the crime scene. This research provides a solution for subjective-based conclusions and the absence of physical evidence altogether. Analysis of bullet material using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) has distinguished bullet composition between manufacturers from a surface scratch. This provides proof of concept that, when a bullet strikes a surface, metal deposits can be extracted and analyzed to corroborate microscopy techniques that currently violate Daubert criteria. Further studies could also provide results to distinguish barrel manufacturers from fired bullets and casings. This novel method of analysis can pave the way for crime scene collection procedures in the absence of physical evidence and provide an increase in scientific value to the expert’s conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Omega
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

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