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Author Topic: gunshot residue  (Read 8320 times)

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dhparker

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gunshot residue
« on: October 19, 2011, 01:51:56 PM »

This is one of those questions where I'm not sure I know enough to ask it properly.  Here's the set-up.  A murderer shoots his victim with a rifle at a range of several yards.  That was twenty-six years ago.  The shooter wore leather gloves.

1. Would the gloves get residue on them in the first place?

2.  If they did, how long would they hold on to it.  On the day of the murder, the gloves in question were hidden away in a dampish kind of cellar, but not in contact with soil or the elements. They weren't in any kind of air-tight container. 

Thanks in advance!

JIM DOHERTY

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Re: gunshot residue
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2011, 07:07:45 PM »

DH,

Re your questions below:

1. Would the gloves get residue on them in the first place?

Yes.

As for the second question, however.

2.  If they did, how long would they hold on to it.  On the day of the murder, the gloves in question were hidden away in a dampish kind of cellar, but not in contact with soil or the elements. They weren't in any kind of air-tight container. 

Hard to say.  If they were never used again, and placed somewhere fairly enclosed, if not hermetically sealed, probably.

If they were used regularly, then probably no.  Or, if they were used for shooting, it would probably be overlain in the course of time by new gunshot residue, which raises the third question you never asked.

How much evidentiary value would gunshot residue on a pair of gloves have after nearly three decades?

dhparker

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Re: gunshot residue
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2011, 09:14:42 AM »

Thanks, Jim!

The evidentiary value might not be much in the eyes of the law, but it would help bring closure to the family of the victim.  ;D

Old Bill

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Re: gunshot residue
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2011, 09:49:23 AM »

DHP:

For question 1, I think it would depend on the rifle.  A closed bolt type might not IMHO spew any primer/gun powder residue on the gloves.  An auto might but that's still iffy.

In my day, the chemical test for GSR was for barium and antimony which were elements found in the primer.  Nitrates from gun powder could give false positives due to being available in so many different materials...fertilizers, urine, etc.  When I started, we were just getting away from the hot wax method of collecting GSR and upgrading to...to...to...(someone help me out here, I can't remember what the analysis was called but it was an electronic gizmo that only required swabbing the hands.  Does spectrum analysis sound right??)

I would venture a guess that today's sophisticated equipment might find traces on gloves after 30 years under the right conditions but I agree with Jim that the evidentiary value would be circumstantial at best and require some supporting evidence that the gloves belonged to the shooter and he/she was wearing them AT THE TIME OF THE SHOOTING.

Good luck with this one.

Old Bill
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dhparker

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Re: gunshot residue
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2011, 08:11:18 AM »

Thanks, Bill!

producer103

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Re: gunshot residue
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2017, 06:40:09 AM »

Gunshot residue is a bit like fingerprint powder, it gets dispersed everywhere, on clothing, skin and I've even recovered it from eyeglasses. If you have a crack evidence gathering team, and the F.B.I. has the best, they'll comb every inch of the crime scene and come away with probative evidence. I've read case studies where the F.B.I. removed wet clothing from a washer, gleaned useable evidence and got a conviction. I don't discount anything these days.
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