There Will Be Blood, and Physics, Too: The Messy Science of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

David Camm lost 13 years of his life to eight drops of blood.

In 2000, the Indiana state trooper was charged with murder after finding his wife and two children shot to death in their home. During the three trials that followed, the prosecution brought in bloodstain experts who argued that the flecks of blood on the t-shirt Camm had worn the night of the murder were “high-velocity impact spatter”—proof, they said, that he was the shooter. Analysts called by the defense, on the other hand, testified that the blood was actually a transfer stain that had smeared onto Camm’s clothing after he’d tried to help his children.

Testifying for the defense, forensic scientist Robert Shaler disputed the claims of the bloodstain experts on both sides, insisting that the blood’s scant patterning was “too little information from which to draw any meaningful conclusion,” Pamela Coloff at ProPublica reported last year.

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