2005 Meeting Abstracts

Abstracts From Fall 2005


Northwest Forensic Firearms Study Group
Dan Alessio, Oregon State Police Crime Laboratory Portland
 

On October 21, 2005, the Northwest Forensic Firearms Study Group held its first meeting at the Washington State Patrol Academy in Shelton, Washington.   Representatives from three states and two countries were in attendance.  The topic of the meeting was Exotic Ammunition.  Seven unusual cartridges were examined and documented.  Dick Rogers of Armor Forensics also demonstrated a new casting material developed in Switzerland called Forensic Sil.  This presentation covers some of the atypical components that may come into the lab or be left behind at a shooting scene due to these unique cartridges.

 

Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Human Remains Recovered from a Guatemalan Mass Gravesite
Katie Coats, Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory Seattle

It is extraordinarily important to the descendents of the Mayans to identify and properly bury their dead.  A government versus civilian-guerilla conflict in Guatemala during the 1960’s through the 1990’s was triggered by a military dictatorship and left hundreds of mass gravesites containing skeletons that are difficult to identify by anthropological means alone.  A humanitarian effort to identify a set of skeletons using DNA technology was undertaken in cooperation with Guatemala’s non-governmental Center of Forensic Anthropology and Applied Sciences.  The collection, analysis and interpretation of mitochondrial DNA samples from both skeletal remains and living potential relatives will be discussed.  This presentation weaves together the technical and humanitarian aspects of this project into an intriguing case-study. 

 

Methamphetamine Manufacture from Multi-Ingredient, Liquid, and Softgel Pseudoephedrine Medications
David M. Northrop, Ph.D.*, Lori A. Knops, Eric C. Person, Ph.D., and Robert Heegel
Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory—Marysville

Both federal and state lawmakers are currently confronting the clandestine methamphetamine laboratory problem in the United States by adopting legislation to control the availability of the precursor pseudoephedrine.  One significant difference between the legislation enacted or proposed in various states is the exemption of certain types of cold and allergy medications. This study addresses the use of potentially exempt preparations in the methamphetamine manufacturing process. Five representative medications (Equaline Severe Cold Coated Caplets, Sav-On Osco Flu Severe Cold and Congestion, Sav-On Osco Tussin CF Cough Syrup-water based, Vick’s NyQuil Multi Symptom Cold / Flu Relief, Equate Nite Time Liquid Caps) were base extracted, and then reduced using red phosphorus – iodine methamphetamine manufacturing methods. 

In each of the five medications examined, appropriate sample preparation yielded a material or mixture of materials that permitted the conversion of the pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine. Taking the process one step further, the “One-Pot” Lithium-Ammonia methamphetamine manufacturing method was used on four multi-ingredient, liquid and softgel pseudoephedrine medications (Claritin-D 12 hour tablets, Equaline Flu, Severe Cold and Congestion, Vick’s NyQuil Multi-symptom Cold / Flu Relief, and Equate Nite-Time Liquid Caps) without prior extraction of the pseudoephedrine. Methamphetamine was successfully obtained from each of these products, with little or no sample preparation required. 

 

Evaluation of Photo Paper Alternatives for the Modified Griess Test
Frances A. Gamboa, B.S., Raymond Kusumi, B.S.;  Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory Seattle

In a previous experiment done by Shawn G. Malikowski, it was determined that High-gloss photo-quality inkjet paper was successful in being an alternate source for the fixed photographic paper.  This article further examines a range of inkjet and laserjet photographic gloss papers in comparison to the Kodak Professional Polycontrast III RC paper (RCII) when treated with the Modified Griess Reagent (MGR).  Some test papers were found to be inferior to the RCIII, but few bore the same quality for use as the RCIII.

 

A case example:  Using reasoning tools in a complex case
Chesterene Cwiklik, B.S.*, Forensic Scientist, Cwiklik & Associates, 2400 Sixth Avenue South #257, Seattle, WA  98134

As problems with forensic science casework come to national attention, suggestions for reform – usually proffered by lawyers or by scientists with little understanding of forensic science - include blind testing.  While blind second opinions are valuable and should be encouraged, blind testing by the original examiner takes the science out of forensic science and reduces it to the application of techniques.  The work of a scientist includes addressing the case questions by forming an analytical plan to address them, then as testing progresses, to evaluate the results for their impact on the case questions.  Some of the reasoning tools include 1.) multiple hypotheses at the outset; 2.) developing a testing plan to distinguish between the hypotheses; 3.) ongoing evaluation and hypothesis formation as new information is developed and some hypotheses are eliminated; 4.) evaluating the nature and strength of associations and exclusions; 5.) evaluating the significance of absence of evidence; 6.) making predictions about what evidence would be expected if a hypothesis is true then testing for it, and 7.) using impact-based reasoning as the case comes to a close.  The use of these reasoning tools is illustrated by a case example involving a double homicide involving a transport vehicle, several possible scenes, time for the perpetrator to destroy his clothing, and some unusual fur fibers.  This casework was performed years before the author encountered Bayesian impact-based reasoning, and illustrates that Bayesian reasoning is simply a formal expression of classic scientific thinking. 

 

GC & LC/MS/MS Approaches to Forensic Drug Testing
Brian J. Nies, Varian Inc., Walnut Creek, CA

Alternate matrices such as whole blood and oral fluids have presented new challenges to the forensic scientist. In particular the quatitation of low concentrations of drugs of abuse and their primary metabolites requires highly sensitive methodology and instrumentation.

In this paper GC and LC/MS/MS approaches to THC / Carboxy-THC in whole blood, Amphetamines in Urine and Morphine/Morphine-3-glucoronide will be presented using the Varian 1200L Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer and The 500-MS Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer.   

 

Evaluation of ASTM 1412-00 E
Trevor Allen, WSP Crime Laboratory Spokane/Eastern Washington University

 

This paper addresses the different variables associated with this method of investigating fire debris samples.  Four major areas of research were considered and tested for efficiency and cross-contamination issues. This  project is a work in progress and it should be noted that the presentation submitted on disk is subject to change as it goes through review in the next week.  It is the goal of this research project to present results to other fire debris chemists and lab managers who use this method, in order to further their knowledge of its limitations and capabilities.

 

New Developments in Microanalysis that Impact Element Identification
Patrick Campos, Oxford Instruments

No abstract submitted at time of printing

 

Evaluation and Comparison of Two Techniques for the Identification of Human Blood
Andrew Pacejka*, Utah Bureau of Forensic Services, Andrew Rigby, Department of Biology, University of Utah, Neal Thompson, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Brigham Young University.

In many forensic laboratories the positive identification of blood has relied on results of two discrete serological tests: the Takayama hemochromgen test and a test incorporating antibodies to human serum proteins.  Two separate preparations of a forensic sample are required to conduct both tests, and positive results of both tests are required to make a conclusive identification of human blood.  Often, samples will yield insufficient blood for both tests as well as subsequent DNA analysis.  Additionally, the Takayama test has suspected inhibitors.

Two commercially marketed tests for the detection of human hemoglobin were evaluated:  Rabbit Antisera to Human Hemoglobin and HemDirect Cassette Membrane Rapid Assay for Human Hemoglobin, Each test has the advantage of identifying human  blood in a single step, potentially minimizing the amount of sample consumed.  Tests were run in comparison to antibodies currently used by UBFS.  Results indicate reduced sensitivity and specificity of the MP Biomedicals test relative to the anti-human serum protein antibodies.  Preliminary results from the HemDirect study indicate comparable sensitivity and specificity readings to the anti-human serum protein antibodies.    

 

Driving Under the Influence of Ephedrine
Mary Wilson BS*, Patrick Friel BS, Ann Marie Gordon MS and Barry K. Logan, PhD
Washington State Toxicology Laboratory, Seattle, Washington

The toxicology of over-the-counter products containing ephedrine has recently received considerable attention in the media.  Ephedrine is found in over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestants and asthma medications (Primateneâ), performance enhancers (BioLeanâ), and weight loss preparations (Fat Metabolizerâ, Thermo-Eâ).  It is a naturally occurring sympathomimetic amine with both peripheral and mild Central Nervous System (CNS) effects.  Ephedrine is associated with increased risks of adverse events compared to other OTC products.  Adverse events associated with ephedrine containing products include gastrointestinal symptoms, hypertension, heart palpitations, paranoid delusions and hallucinations,.  Ephedrine has caused sudden death in abusers.

We present a case study of a 53-year-old female, cited for erratic driving, first in May of 2002 and again in May of 2003.  Following the first arrest, she underwent a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluation. On the standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) she exhibited obvious body tremors during the Romberg Balance and the one-leg stand, visual examination demonstrated a lack of convergence, pulse was 108 BPM, blood pressure 172/104 mmHg.  She was very talkative with slurred speech, and her movements were exaggerated. The DRE officer concluded that she was under the influence of a CNS stimulant. Following the second arrest she exhibited poor balance and could not follow instructions but refused to complete SFST.  She later refused the DRE exam because she recognized the DRE officer from her 2002 arrest, and stated she did not like the way he treated her on the previous encounter.   In both incidents she was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, specifically a CNS stimulant.  The subject reported taking ephedrine to stay awake, and that she had been taking extra doses recently. 

Toxicological analysis revealed ephedrine concentration of 15mg/L in the 2002 incident, and 22 mg/L in 2003. Ephedrine concentrations were determined by butyl chloride extraction and GC/MS and GC/NPD analysis without derivatization.  Subsequent stereospecific analysis (by reversed phase LCMS of underivatized drug) indicated that ephedrine, and not pseudoephedrine was present.     The ephedrine concentrations in this subject were in the ranges associated with ephedrine fatalities in the literature.  Impaired driving can be added to the list of ephedrine-related adverse events.

 

Determining the Total Uncertainty in Forensic Breath Alcohol Measurement
Rod G. Gullberg, Washington State Patrol Toxicology Laboratory

The evidentiary presentation of quantitative measurements should be accompanied by some estimate of their uncertainty.  This allows decision makers to appropriately weigh the evidence and determine their fitness-for-purpose.  The principle elements contributing to breath alcohol measurement uncertainty include: (1) biological/sampling, (2) traceability, (3) instrumental and (4) the simulator water/air partition coefficient.  Assuming specific values for these elements, a complete assessment of measurement uncertainty is worked out in a practical example.  The total measurement uncertainty (estimated as a standard deviation) for a bias corrected mean of duplicate breath alcohol measurements  was determined to be:

 The proportion of total uncertainty contributed by the principle elements considered were estimated to be: biological/sampling 53.0%, traceability 38.8%, instrumental 6.0% and water/air partition coefficient 2.2%.  Having an estimate for total measurement uncertainty allows for the computation of a 99% confidence interval, which, for the example presented here, was 0.0832 to 0.0996 g/210L.  These estimates of total uncertainty enhance the ability to establish fitness-for-purpose in forensic breath alcohol analysis as well as revealing areas for improvement.