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The Physical Effects of Contact and Close‐Distance Gunfire on Sweatshirt Fleece

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Powder stippling caused by the impact of propellant particles during close‐distance gunfire has been previously described on skin and solid objects only. Additionally, radial tearing has been described as clear evidence of a contact‐distance shot, requiring no further testing. Patterns of discrete perforating holes (referred to here as “stippling perforations”) and other physical damage on sweatshirt fleece fabrics were prepared. Using the firearm and ammunition in this study, stippling perforations were observed to a maximum muzzle‐to‐target distance of 35 cm (10 inches). In addition, radial tearing and disintegration were present (and often more extensive) at greater than contact distance. The presence of stippling perforations could augment muzzle‐to‐target distance estimates generated using the Griess test, or allow distance estimates when the Griess test is not feasible. Unlike what has been previously reported, testing on the original evidence (or similar substitute) is warranted when physical damage is used to estimate shooting distance.
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Keywords: firearms examination; forensic science; gunshot residue; muzzle‐to‐target distance; radial tearing; shooting reconstruction; stippling perforations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2018

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