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I am a lawyer & mother by day & a midnight writer. I just finished my first novel, a legal thriller, JUSTICE FOR SALE. More...

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Monday, April 27, 2015

V - Verdict, Verify & Validate

V - Lead Detective Needs to Verify & Validate the Evidence: He Needs a Verdict on Who Killed Martha Clinton

V Verdict, Verify & Validate

     Detective Coker brought Sam Watson in for an interview, interrogation. Since he discovered the body and found the gun in the victim’s hand, the police wanted to take a closer look at him. The GPS Dart was recovered and the car seen fleeing the scene of Martha’s Clinton’s home, days after the murder is registered to Sam Watson, but Sam claims he was not driving his car that night. He loaned it to his brother, Saul.

     While the official ballistics report is not back, a preliminary report verifies that the victim was not shot with the Smith and Wesson .38 caliber handgun that was found in her hand. She was likely killed with something less powerful, a .22 is the likely murder weapon. So where is the murder weapon and why did she have a different gun in her hand.

     Someone obviously put the gun in the woman’s hand after she was killed to make it look like a suicide or for some other reason. The .38 has not been traced to an owner, however, the gun found in her hand has been linked to two unsolved homicides. Detective Coker re- interviewed the leading suspect in one of those unsolved homicide cases. Mr. Tyrone Mitchell, of course denies any knowledge of any homicide, but did reluctantly pose a hypothetical to the detective. Mitchell claims that hypothetically, if he ever possessed a gun, that gun disappeared over a year ago and he believes his girlfriend stole the gun. His girlfriend’s name at the time, was Pam Robinson.

Detective Coker interviewed Pam Robinson who denied ever possessing a gun. But, Coker gained some interesting information from the interview. At the time Pam dated Tyrone, she had a roommate who shared her apartment in the French Quarter. Her roommate’s name was, Elisa Smith. Coker was unable to find Smith, but plans to visit her place of employment tomorrow. According to Pam Robinson, Elisa Smith had a boyfriend by the name of Sam. Sam worked as a pharmaceutical rep. 

Handwriting analyses is back and Thomas Clinton did not write the note left for his wife in their home. The expert compared the note to a shopping list taken from the tenant’s apartment and it is an exact match. Michael Prejean wrote the note. Of course he swears he was in Florida as the time.

Detective Coker interviewed Dr. Daryl Kelly who denied fighting with the victim, but admitted to stopping by their home on numerous occasions to collect gambling debts from Thomas Clinton. It seems Clinton doesn’t just frequent the casinos, but he bets big with a bookie and he also plays the ponies. Kelly used to own some racehorses, back when he was in Vet school. He dropped out of Vet school when he got into med school. Anyway, according to Kelly, at times Thomas Clinton owed bookies over a hundred grand for his horse track betting and football betting.

Dr. Russo admitted arguing with Thomas, but claimed it was over the way he treated and abused his wife. Their argument turned physical on one occasion, but that was a long time before Martha was killed.

Detective Coker spoke with Michael Prejean’s mother over the telephone. She was at her home in Tampa, Florida and insisted that Michael was with her on July 9, 2014. When Detective Coker told her that they have been able to positively place Michael in New Orleans at the time of the murder and that she might be charged with a felony offense if she continues to lie, she didn’t answer. Coker informed her that they collected fresh cigarette butts with Michael’s DNA and that a witness places him at the scene, she backed off her story a little bit and said that he was in Florida, but she cannot be absolute certain what time he left on July 9th, to return home to New Orleans. 

     “I know he fed and washed the horses. He gave two of them a good workout, so he didn’t leave too early and it’s a ten hour drive at least. No I don’t think he could possibly have made it back to New Orleans by the time that poor woman died. Plus he was so fond of her. Michael would never kill anyone. He loves animals, kids and old people. He’s a good man.”
      However she jumped all over Coker and insisted he made a mistake. She was adamant that Michael is a non smoker and said that Coker better remove that lie from any official documents or he would ruin everything for Michael. When Coker asked her to elaborate she said she was retaining her own attorney and hung up the line

DNA Analysis is back:

Semen found on Martha Clinton belonged to two separate individuals. 
(1) Her husband, Thomas Clinton, no big surprise there, but Coker is not willing to rule him out. He could have raped and killed her after she had consensual sex with someone else 

(2) An unknown male contributor with B- Blood Type, who is not in the system

Damn! Detective Coker thought the semen would match one of the suspects, one of the men who either voluntarily gave blood for a DNA sample or were compelled to give blood, pursuant to the warrant. But no. Hell no. Nothing can ever be easy.

The lab compared the semen found on Martha to the blood taken from:
(1) Michael Prejean
(2) Sam Watson
(3) Daryl Kelly
(4) Dr. Aiden Russo

Nothing! No match. None of the potential suspects’ blood was a DNA match to the semen found on the victim

Is it possible she had consensual sex with someone else and one of the above four men or her husband killed her? Coker has never been so frustrated about a homicide case

And how will they ever find out who used the spoof card to send the threatening messages to the victim from her husband’s cell phone

Coker obtained a few more leads, he just needs to figure out what they all mean.

Michael Prejean’s DNA was in fact found on all 17 cigarette butts located close the the body. The crime lab is still analyzing the cigarette butts — looking for a way to determine how old they are. The first officer on the scene swears one of the cigarette butts was still smoldering, as if recently tossed in the grass or gravel.

He discovered that according to the husband’s GPS on his vehicle, he not only left the family home shortly before his wife was murdered, but his car sat, stationary, in their subdivision. Why? He can’t ask Thomas because he lawyered up, but with GPS showing him within a mile of his home at the time of his wive’s death, Coker is more unwilling than ever to rule him out. He could have jogged home and killed his wife and sprinted back to his car. Or was someone else driving his car.

Coker needed a drink. He had to let all this new information simmer in his head.

Who killed Martha Clinton. Detective Coker buried his head on the bar and ordered another round. He came up empty today. No verdict on who killed her, not for Coker, not yet.

You can view an update case analysis by clicking on the Legal Fiction page of my blog.

Visit my Idea Bank page on my blog for an updated witness list and a list of all the daily letter clues.

Today's Clue: Letter V - Vasectomy  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

U - Undercover Police Officer

U - Undercover Police Officer

"Why the hell didn't we learn about this sooner?" Detective Coker is pissed off.

Crime Fiction Murder Mystery:

No wonder their rap sheets were hidden so deep it took Detective Coker weeks to get his hands on them and what he read didn't add up. How could drug dealing nurses still hold a license and be practicing in a pediatric clinic?

Nurse Jenny Hebert & Nurse Frances Cush are both U/C  ... that stands for undercover. They are police officers working undercover. Too bad neither vice nor the feds, DEA would give anything up. Special agent in charge claimed that it would jeopardize an ongoing, four year, deep, undercover investigation into the manufacturing & distribution of narcotics. On top of that, several local doctors and doctors in Florida are the targets of a major undercover operation. So, Detective Coker has been ordered to do nothing to jeopardize the cover of the two women police officers.

He is baffled. Who the hell is the target and what does the drug investigation have to do with his homicide?

Today's Clue: Letter U - Urine

For a complete updated Crime Fiction Murder Mystery case analysis, click on the Legal Fiction page of my blog.

Check out the Idea Bank for a list of all daily letter clues, a witness list and links to all A to Z post.

I covered Undercover Law Enforcement Officers, in much greater detail, a few years ago. If you want to know more about how they operate, visit my previous post.

Undercover Officers: Should There Be No Limits

Saturday, April 25, 2015

T - Trace Evidence: How Trace Evidence Solves Criminal Cases

T- Trace Evidence Links Killers to Crime Scene

What is trace evidence?

T Trace Evidence

Trace evidence consist of tiny particles of physical evidence that aid law enforcement and crime labs in solving criminal cases. Trace evidence is often left at a crime scene when two articles touch or come into contact with one another. They tell a story of their own. Trace evidence can be vital in solving a case. 

    Did the perpetrator move the body?

    Was the body transported in a specific car?

    How close was the victim to the window? 

    Where was the victim when the bullet shattered the glass?

   Trace evidence can help determine the type of weapon used in a homicide. In a case where the victim was strangled to death, fibers embedded in her neck can be traced to a specific rope, scarf, or belt.

  Some examples of trace evidence: 

Hair, fibers from clothing or carpeting, glass, paint, paint chips, soil, debris, cosmetics. 

Hair is the most common source of trace evidence
Hair (human and animal) if linked to a suspect can place him at the scene of the crime.

Crime Fiction Murder Mystery:

     DNA is back and I will go into it in further detail with my letter U post, which will be a complete breakdown of all physical evidence in the Martha Clinton murder case.             

For today, let’s concentrate on Trace Evidence, specifically hair found on the victim’s body, believed to have been left by her killer.

 Martha Clinton’s autopsy confirmed the presence of brown hair, in and around the victim’s vaginal area and the victim was clutching strands of hair in her palm when she died. Preliminary tests concluded that the hair does not belong to the victim. 

Tests confirm the hair is:
  • Human
  • Brown in color
  • Male
  • Caucasian 
  • Hair in Victim’s hand = Hair from a person’s head. Hair found in vaginal area determined to be pubic hair

Thomas Clinton’s pubic hair was not a match and he has been eliminated as the contributor of the pubic hair, but he has not been eliminated as a suspect.

Detective Coker intends to ask the following persons of interest to voluntarily submit to a hair and hair follicle test, whereby several strands of the hair on their heads and several strands of their pubic hair will be collected from their persons then sent to the crime lab for a comparison analysis with the known hair. If any of the following refuse, then Detective Coker believes he has sufficient probable cause to get a warrant compelling the individuals to submit to a hair follicle test.
Hair Sample Needed From The Following:
  1. Dr. Daryl Kelly
  2. Michael Prejean
  3. Dr. Daryl Kelly
  4. Samuel Watson
For an updated case analysis of the Martha Clinton homicide, for the crime fiction murder mystery, click on the Legal Fiction page of my blog.

Visit the Idea Page of my blog for a complete list of witnesses, links to each of my A to Z post that contain clues to solving the mystery and a list of each daily clue according to the letter of the day.

Question: Is Detective Coker experiencing what we call tunnel vision in this case? Has he predetermined that the killer is male, because of the presence of semen and pubic hair? Police have been known to develop a theory and once they are convinced of their theory of the crime, the put blinders on and often ignore relevant evidence that points in an entirely different direction? It seems that Coker has ruled out the possibility that a woman killed Martha Clinton? 

What do you think? Have you ruled out a female killer? Isn't it possible that Martha Clinton had consensual sex with both her husband and a lover or even a stranger, close to the time of her death, but neither of her sexual partners killed her? Is is possible that a female friend or foe came along later and shot her.

You might want to reexamine Means, Motive & Opportunity before rendering your verdict. Remember the winner, the first person to solve the murder wins a Kindle Fire 

Click on the Kindle image for more details.

Winner of my random drawing for week 3 is Nick Wilford at Scattergun Scribblings. Do you follow Nick's blog? If not, now is the time to start. His A to Z theme is really fun. He selects a random word from the dictionary each day (one that he is not familiar with) and then he uses that word and writes a 100 word piece of amazing flash fiction. Head over there now and read some of his work.

If you are truly interested in learning how law enforcement and crime labs utilize trace evidence, I recommend watching this short video (3 Minutes) from Investigation Discovery, Solved -- Trace Evidence.

Today's Clue Again We Have Two (2) Clues: Letter T - (1)Twin Defense (2) Transplant

Thursday, April 23, 2015

R - Letter R is for Robbery

R - Robbery

My letter S post Spoof Card is out of place and should be after this post, but it is before it. You can find my letter S -Spoof Card Post here. You might want to read it, if you are planning to solve the murder mystery.
I don't know why this post disappeared from my blog. I discovered that it was missing, after I clearly saw in on my blog, I found it in the draft stage and published it, but the font all came out in pink. I am attempting to fix the mess now.

Robbery is often confused with the somewhat similar criminal offense: Burglary

Full Disclosure: This is a repeat topic from another A to Z Blogging Challenge Year. 

If you want to read the full, in-depth earlier Robbery For Crime Fiction Writers post. Here it is.

                                                                           R is for Robbery

Before I explain the difference, I should tell you the elements of the criminal offense, robbery.{Keep in mind that criminal elements and definitions, vary from state to state.}

Simple Robbery: 
(1) The taking of anything of value
(2) Belonging to another
(3) From the person of another
(4) Or that is in the immediate control of the other
(5) By use of force or intimidation {but, not armed with a dangerous weapon.}

The crime is enhanced to Second Degree Robbery, when the offender inflicts serious bodily injury. It is further enhanced to First Degree Robbery, when the offender leads the victim to reasonably believe he is armed with a dangerous weapon; and the offense is enhanced to an Armed Robbery, when the offender, in fact, has a dangerous weapon.

Without going into all the details of each and every element of a burglary, here are the main distinctions between robbery and burglary:

A robbery requires the taking of something of value from another. A burglary is the unauthorized entering of a dwelling, car, boat or other structure, with the intent to commit a theft or felony, therein.

Do you recognize any of the important distinctions?

Unlawfully entering another person's home, car, or boat: Burglary, but not robbery.Breaking into someones home with the intent to steal money: Burglary, but not robberyUnlawfully entering someones home {without their permission}, but not breaking a window or lock, entering through an unlocked door, with the intent to rape the home's occupant: Burglary, not robbery.It doesn't matter that the door is unlocked, it is an unlawful entry. The intent to commit a rape is the intent to commit a felony, therefore, a burglary. For a burglary to occur, it is irrelevant that the offender does not actually commit the theft or felony therein; the only requirement is the intent to commit a theft or felony, therein.

Robbery requires the actual taking of something of value, from another, belonging to another. So a man approaches a woman in a shopping mall parking lot, unarmed and demands that she give him her watch and shopping bags (I intentionally did not say purse, because purse snatching is a separate and distinct crime).The woman is frightened by the man and his size and obvious ability to harm her so she hands it over. This is a robbery.The man knocks her to to the ground and stomps on her, leaving her unconscious~ this is a second degree robbery. 

The man has his hand inside his sweatshirt-hoodie and is pointing something at her though his clothing, but the woman is unable to determine what it is. It could be a gun or could be his cell phone or merely his finger. So long as the victim is led to reasonably believe that the man is armed, it doesn't matter if he is actually armed. This is First degree robbery.But... If the man actually has a weapon, it is an armed robbery. Robbery requires, actual taking, so an unsuccessful attempt to take is an attempted robbery.Why am I making the distinction between a robbery and a burglary?Other than the obvious reason; many writers get these two crimes confused.

Let's take a look at what is happening with Detective Coker and our A to Z Crime Fiction Murder Mystery

Evidence & Case Analysis Update:

Thomas Clinton has been going bat shit crazy, demanding the release of his wife's personal effects, but Detective Coker has repeatedly told him that anything on the victim's body at the time of her death is considered evidence and will not be released until the case is solved and prosecuted. 
Thomas knows this. After all, he is a lawyer. 
He finally broke down and told Detective Coker that he really just wants the engagement ring his wife wore on her left ring finger. 
Apparently it is a 5 carat flawless (F) emerald cut diamond ring, according to the insurance form he presented to Detective Coker, a flawless diamond is extremely rare. 
Martha's diamond fell under the letter D for color in the four C's. 
The 5 carat emerald cut diamond ring also had .5 carat baguettes on each side. 
The diamond is a Harry Winston diamond set in platinum and according the the insurance policy it is valued at and insured for more money than Detective Coker will make in his lifetime. 
Thomas Clinton claims the diamond is a 5th generation family heirloom and he would like for it to be returned to him immediately.
 He proposed that the officers take photographs of the diamond ring for evidentiary purposes.

The glitch .... Detective Coker doesn't remember any such ring. 
He checked though the evidence inventory and spoke to all police officers and CSI techs and employees at the morgue, all deny ever seeing a ring on the victim's finger.

The evidence inventory sheet for the victim's body shows:

one gold and platinum Rolex watch
 one platinum diamond wedding band
 one sapphire cocktail ring 
one five dollar bill in the front pant pocket

This might change the direction of the investigation.

If, Martha Clinton was in fact wearing this expensive diamond engagement ring at the time she was killed and the perpetrator took the ring from the victim, he committed the crime of robbery
Robbery is another crime that would allow the district attorney to charge the suspect with first degree murder as opposed to second degree murder. 
If the suspect killed Martha Clinton, during the commission or attempted commission of one of the enumerated felony offenses (Rape & Robbery) both included, then the DA will be going for the death penalty once they arrest the offender.

Or ...

Detective Coker, being the person he is,  finds it difficult to trust people at face value ... his mind is always considering the more cynical theories of the crime.

Maybe ...

Thomas Clinton, being in financial trouble ... knows that if his wife divorces him he will suffer a severe financial set back. 
He has a girlfriend. 
He doesn't want his wife, but he can't afford a messy divorce. 

Perhaps ...

Thomas Clinton killed his wife and stole the engagement ring from her finger.

Why would he do this?

To add credibility to the theory that someone other than the husband killed the wife

and ...

He could make a shit load of money by filing a theft claim with his insurance company. 
He has the ring insured for over half a million dollars.

If this was a robbery that ended in murder, why didn't the suspect also take Martha's other valuable jewelry? 
Just because the other jewelry was not taken ... in and of itself doesn't prove anything.
 A variety of factors could have prevented the killer from taking the other jewelry. 
A car drove by. 
The killer was in a hurry and became spooked when he saw a person walking toward the garage apartment. 
The killer might have known the significance of the ring and decided to take only that ring in an effort to cast suspicion on the husband, Thomas Clinton. 
Detective Coker has a lot of new information to consider and investigate. 
If this was a robbery/murder, chances are the killer will make an effort to fence or pawn the ring. 
A ring that valuable and that distinctive shouldn't be hard to track down on the black market.

Why didn't Thomas Clinton mention the ring as soon as he learned of his wife's death?
 He could have been so distraught over his wife's murder that he wasn't thinking about her jewelry. 
Or, he may have taken the ring. 
If he took the ring and makes an insurance claim for the ring, he certainly can't give it to his girlfriend or even keep it. 
He would need to get rid of it. 
If someone is found to be in possession of said ring, they would look very guilty in the eyes of the law. 
Detective Coker put in a request for 24 hour surveillance on Thomas Clinton. 
If he has that ring, Detective Coker intends to nail him with it. 
Clinton is a lawyer and Coker hates lawyers and he is anticipating Clinton's next move. Coker is willing to bet that Thomas Clinton will soon publicly accuse the police or an agent of the police of taking the ring.

Detective Coker intends to have Thomas Clinton walk though the family home with him ... again. 
This time searching for any other missing items.
 Did a burglary also occur on the night Martha Clinton was killed?

Today's Clue - Two Clues Today: Letter R - Replication and Rejection

For an update on the crime fiction murder mystery challenge, the murder of Martha Clinton, you can click on my Legal Fiction page at the top of my blog in the navigation bar for up to date facts, evidence, case analysis, clues and other relevant information

Also, at the top of my blog, in the navigation bar, you can click on the Idea Bank page for a complete list of all witnesses and suspects and a list of all of the daily letter clues.

You can find all of the other 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge participants with this link.

Spoof Card Throws Investigators off Killer's Trail

Letter S - Spoof Card:

If you are looking for my Letter R - Robbery post, that disappeared from my blog, you can find it here. I had to repost it, so it is no longer in the correct order. Sorry, sleuths. 
Holy Spoof -a -rama! This shit can't be legal, can it?
As long as you agree to use your Spoof Card for pranks and not for any illegal purpose, then I guess you are on the honor system. Ha!

What can you do with a spoof card and how does it work?

1. Dial the number you are given and enter the PIN you are given
2. Follow the prompts
3. You will first be asked to type in the number you wish to call
4. Next, you will be asked to type in the number you wish to display on caller ID

Yes, you heard me. You can have any number you want appear as the caller ID number, when you call someone.

Let's see how someone might abuse this:

You want to see if you boyfriend still takes calls from his ex, so you type in her number as the caller ID number

You want to scare the living crap out of someone so you type in the number of an HIV clinic or Planned Parenthood clinic as the caller ID

I know lawyers (not admitting to anything, not a single thing) and private investigators who type in the number of a local hospital when they are trying to track down a witness or someone who is dodging a subpoena. I've known investigators and police officers who have typed in the number of bank and then they tell the person who answers the phone that they are trying to reach Kathy Smith or Jimmy Mark (the target of their investigation)and claim that the end of year accounting shows she/he has an account with nearly $500 in it. Mark my word, the Kathy or Jimmy, who previously didn't live there, will immediately get on the phone.

Back to number 4, you type in the number that you wish to display on caller ID - this is the number that shows up on the receiver's end as the number calling them

5. The prompt will then ask you if you want to disguise your voice
6. If you want to disguise your voice you will be prompted to choose a male or female disguise.
7. You will then be asked if you want to record the call

That's it. Your call is then placed. 

Now for the purposes of phone records, your actual number - the number you dialed from, will not show up on the receiver's cell phone or land line bill as an incoming call. This can really throw investigators off when they are searching cell phone records to try and pinpoint who made a certain call to whom and when. The number that shows up on the receiver's phone bill as the incoming call is the number you entered as your Spoof Caller ID Number.

You think many criminals are using the spoof card when they commit crimes? Duh!

Crime Fiction Murder Mystery:

Do you remember back in week one of the challenge, when our lead investigator obtained cell phone records for the cell phone belonging to the victim, Martha Clinton? He thought he caught an early break and that the case would be a cinch to solve. I mean there it was in black and white. 

Threatening messages on the victim's cell phone from her husband, Thomas Clinton. Thomas, of course denied sending the threatening messages, but Detective Coker didn't believe a word he said. Coker surmised that the evidence doesn't lie. Well, Thomas kept insisting he didn't send a threatening message and his lawyer got involved and the next thing you know the cops and the IT department and the digital forensic experts began combing through all mobile devices belonging to both Thomas and Martha Clinton. I'll be damned, if it doesn't look like the husband was telling the truth, about this issue, anyway.

Weeks have passed and the IT department and even the well trained and educated digital forensic experts have been putting in loads of overtime trying to solve this mystery. They finally sent the phones and the records off to the FBI lab in Quantico, but no one has been able to solve this mystery. 

That is until ... Special Agent Joseph Marone's teenage daughter visited him in the lab. For the sixteen year old girl it was a no brainier and it took her all of five minutes to conclude that someone must be using a spoof card.

Where do they go from here? How many of you suspected something like a spoof card? Ever heard of a spoof card? Do you think they should be legal or illegal?

Wait until you read my next few post and learn some of the other more intrusive tricks a person can play on you with a spoof card. You might change your mind.

The DNA results are expected back tomorrow. We should be able to start narrowing down the suspect pool.

For a complete and update list of facts, witnesses, evidence and clues in the Crime Fiction Murder Mystery just click on the Legal Fiction Page of my blog.

The Idea Bank at the top of my blog in the navigation bar has a list of all witnesses and each daily letter clue.

You can find all of the other 2015 Blogging Challenge Participants here.

Today's Clue - Letter S - Semen

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Q - Questioned Documents

Q- Questioned Documents:

Questioned Documents is an area of the law where a forensic document expert analyses questioned documents. Cases involve any type of questioned document.

Some examples of questioned documents cases:
Hot checks
Altered will 
Threatening or harassing letters
Job applications
All Financial documents

An expert might examine a questioned document to determine whether or not the document is actually what it purports to be or if it is a fake. An expert might examine a document to determine if a specific person authored or wrote the words. 

Another area of questioned documents involves analyzing a document for the presence of indented impressions of handwriting. This occurs when a notebook or notepad is discovered, but the page in question has been torn off or removed. The expert can often determine the original content from the imprint left on the pad.

Questioned Document Experts can also determine what type of ink was used in a document and when that type of ink or ink pen was manufactured. 

In our Crime Fiction Murder Mystery, you may remember that the police found a note allegedly left by the victim's husband, telling the victim not to wait up for him that he was playing basketball. Detective Coker thought this quite odd, since Thomas Clinton claims he never went home after work on the day his wife was killed. Detective Coker sent the note to the crime lab for analysis by a questioned document expert and it turns out that Thomas Clinton did not author the note left for his wife that had his signature as the author.

Today's Clue: Letter Q - Quarter