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Trajectory Reconstruction Through Analysis of Trace Evidence in Bullet–Intermediate Target Interaction by SEM/EDX

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A young male was shot to death by a police officer with a Chinese Type 64 7.62 mm pistol when he was dealing with an aggravated assault arising from a traffic accident. By using scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), trace deposits on the discharged bullet and the intermediate target, i.e., a concrete telegraph pole at the scene, were identified to be from each other. The result demonstrated the bullet causing the death ricocheted from the concrete telegraph pole before striking the victim, thus indicating the incident was accidental. The case report illustrates the evidential value of trace materials derived, respectively, from discharged bullets and intermediate targets in bullet–intermediate target interaction for trajectory reconstruction. In addition, it indicates that the SEM/EDX method with its nondestructive nature, compared to other methods, may be more helpful in certain situations in determining the origins of trace evidentially valuable deposits on substrates.
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Keywords: bullet–intermediate target interaction; forensic science; ricochet; scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy; trace evidence; trajectory reconstruction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Physics, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China. 2: Guangzhou Forensic Science Institute, Guangzhou 510030, China. 3: Department of Forensic Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510080, China.

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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