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How taphonomic alteration affects the detection and imaging of striations in stab wounds.pdf (5.86 MB)

How taphonomic alteration affects the detection and imaging of striations in stab wounds.

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-03-22, 15:29 authored by Sophie A. Stanley, Sarah V. Hainsworth, Guy N. Rutty
Stabbing with a kitchen knife is a common method of homicide in Europe. Serrated knives may leave tool markings (striations) in tissues. Documentation of striations is necessary for their use as forensic evidence. Traditional methods (physical casting and photography) have significant limitations, and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) has been trialled in cartilage to "virtually cast" wounds. Previous research has shown the proportion of striations in cartilage falls following decomposition. This project has investigated the effects of taphonomic alteration and documentation methods of striations in porcine skin. Fresh, decomposed, mummified, burnt and waterlogged stab wounds in a porcine analogue were excised and imaged using photography, stereo-optical microscopy and micro-CT. The proportion of striations in each taphonomic group was determined from the images by independent analysts. Striations were observed more frequently in serrated blade wounds, although they were also identified in non-serrated blade wounds. The proportion of wounds showing striations declined following decomposition. An inversely proportional linear correlation between advancing decomposition and proportion of striations existed. Dehydration (mummification and burning) rendered serrated and non-serrated blade wounds indistinguishable. Water composition affected the preservation of striations. Identification of striations gradually declined after decomposition in tap water, but persisted to a point when left in brackish water. All three techniques imaged striations; however, the optimum technique was stereo-optical microscopy due to practical advantages and specific limitations affecting photography and micro-CT. This study demonstrates the effects of taphonomic alteration on striations and suggests stereo-optical microscopy is the optimum method for their documentation.



International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2018, 132 (2), pp. 463-475

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International Journal of Legal Medicine


Springer Verlag (Germany)





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