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Love J.C.,Office of Chief Medical Examiner | Derrick S.M.,Harris County Institute of Forensic science | Wiersema J.M.,Harris County Institute of Forensic science | Peters C.,University of Houston
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2015

Microscopic saw mark analysis is a well published and generally accepted qualitative analytical method. However, little research has focused on identifying and mitigating potential sources of error associated with the method. The presented study proposes the use of classification trees and random forest classifiers as an optimal, statistically sound approach to mitigate the potential for error of variability and outcome error in microscopic saw mark analysis. The statistical model was applied to 58 experimental saw marks created with four types of saws. The saw marks were made in fresh human femurs obtained through anatomical gift and were analyzed using a Keyence digital microscope. The statistical approach weighed the variables based on discriminatory value and produced decision trees with an associated outcome error rate of 8.62-17.82%. © 2014 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


Hartnett K.M.,Office of Chief Medical Examiner
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2010

This research tests the accuracy of age-at-death estimation from the sternal end of the fourth rib. Age was estimated using the İşcan and Loth casts and written descriptions. The correlation results indicate that there are significant differences in the observed versus actual ages (r = 0.75329, p < 0.001) and that there are significant interobserver differences. Intraobserver tests showed that no significant differences were found within observers. Results of the rib end analysis compared to the results from the pubic symphyses suggest that the rib performs better than the pubic symphysis in age estimation. The rib ends were sorted based on morphology without prior knowledge of age. Summary statistics were calculated for each new phase, and descriptions were created. A variant form of the rib end was described, and the previously understated feature of bone quality was emphasized. © 2010 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


Hartnett K.M.,Office of Chief Medical Examiner
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2010

This research tests the accuracy of age estimation from the pubic bone. Specimens were collected from decedents of known age, sex, and race at the Forensic Science Center (FSC) in Phoenix, Arizona. The collection consists of pubic bones and fourth rib ends from 419 males and 211 females, ranging in age from 18 to 99. Age-at-death was estimated by three observers using the Suchey-Brooks method. The correlation results indicate that there are significant differences in the observed versus actual ages (r = 0.68169, p < 0.001) and that there are significant interobserver differences. No significant differences were found in the intra-observer tests. The FSC pubic bones were sorted based on morphology without knowing age. New descriptions and age ranges were created. A phase seven was described and is comprised of males and females over 70 years of age-at-death. © 2010 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


Hartnett K.M.,Office of Chief Medical Examiner | Fulginiti L.C.,Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner | di Modica F.,20 West Washington Street
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2011

This research investigates the effects of household chemicals on human tissues. Five different human tissues (bone, tooth, hair, fingernails, and skin/muscle/fat) were immersed into six different corrosive agents. These agents consisted of hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, lye, bleach, organic septic cleaner, and Coca-Cola ® soda. Tap water was used as a control. Tissue samples were cut to consistent sizes and submerged in the corrosive liquids. Over time, the appearance, consistency, and weight were documented. Hydrochloric acid was the most destructive agent in this study, consuming most tissues within 24h. Sulfuric acid was the second most destructive agent in this study. Bleach, lye, and cola had no structural effects on the hard tissues of the body, but did alter the appearance or integrity of the hair, nails, or flesh in some way. The organic septic cleaner and tap water had no effect on any of the human tissue tested during the timeframe of the study. 2011 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


Senter L.,Bureau of Maternal | Sackoff J.,Bureau of Maternal | Landi K.,Office of Chief Medical Examiner | Boyd L.,Bureau of Maternal
Maternal and Child Health Journal | Year: 2011

We describe an approach for quantifying and characterizing the extent to which sudden and unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) result from unsafe sleep environments (e.g., prone position, bedsharing, soft bedding); and present data on sleep-related infant deaths in NYC. Using a combination of vital statistics and medical examiner data, including autopsy and death scene investigation findings, we analyzed any death due to accidental threat to breathing (ATB) (ICD-10 W75 & W84), and deaths of undetermined intent (UND) (Y10-Y34) between 2000 and 2003 in NYC for the presence of sleep-related factors (SRF). Homicide deaths were excluded as were SIDS, since in NYC SIDS is not a certification option if environmental factors were possibly contributors to the death. All 19 ATB and 69 (75%) UND had SRFs as per the OCME investigation. Black infants and infants born to teen mothers had higher SRF death rates for both ATB and UND deaths. Bedsharing was the most common SRF (53%-ATB; 72%-UND deaths); the majority of non-bedsharing infants were found in the prone position (60%-ATB; 78%-UND deaths). We found a high prevalence of SRFs among ATB and UND deaths. This is the first local study to illustrate the importance of knowing how SUIDs are certified in order to ascertain the prevalence of infant deaths with SRFs. Advancing the research requires clarity on the criteria used by local medical examiners to categorize SUIDs. This will help jurisdictions interpret their infant mortality statistics, which in turn will improve education and prevention efforts. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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