Deep Identifications: Using National Evidence Databases To Solve Local Crimes

To purchase a ticket for this special event, click hereLast minute guests, yes, you can bring cash to the crime lab today (check in is at 11:30am for a noon showtime). If you’d like to be contacted when another crime lab tour and lecture are scheduled, subscribe to LAVA’s occasional Crime Lab Newsletter.

Visionary Professor Donald Johnson, in association with LAVA and Esotouric, invites you to participate in a special four-hour event at LA’s regional crime laboratory, on the campus of Cal State LA. Space is very limited and pre-reservation required for this unprecedented opportunity to tour the crime lab, learn from working forensic investigators and educators, and discover the real art and science of crime scene investigation.

“Deep Identifications: Using National Evidence Databases To Solve Local Crimes” is an exploration of the scientific investigation of violent death, revealed through methods of database-driven evidence analysis and select case histories. Attendees will also have an opportunity to tour Cal State LA’s state-of the-art teaching and research facilities in the Criminalistics Department of the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.

“Deep Identifications: Using National Evidence Databases To Solve Local Crimes” consists of one crime investigation lecture by LASD Criminalist Dale Falicon, a two-part crime investigation lecture by LASD DNA Tech Lead/CODIS Administrator Steve Renteria, and related breakout scientific workshops offering illustration of the concepts raised by Mr. Falicon’s investigations.

LECTURE #1 is Dale Falicon’s presentation on his role in a fascinating “cold case” investigation, the 2003 closure of a 1957 double homicide, resulting from the arrest and conviction of Gerald Mason. Mason, a transient, kidnapped four teenagers in Hawthorne, stripped them, raped one and stole their car. Pulled over about 1:30am at Rosecrans and Sepulveda for a routine traffic stop by El Segundo PD officers Richard Phillips and Milton Curtis, Mason shot and killed both men. Mason fled the scene and a 48-hour manhunt followed. No substantial leads were found, and the case remained cold until September 2002, when a deathbed confession (soon proved false) renewed El Segundo’s interest in the investigation. ESPD asked the LASD to re-examine the existing evidence in the hope that new clues would be discovered. Investigators turned to the evidence collected at the scene to see if modern crime investigation techniques could do something that was impossible at the time of the murders. Dale’s work with a composite fingerprint taken from two partial fingerprints resulted in a positive match against the recently introduced “IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System)”, and the name of a convicted felon: Gerald Mason. Tracked down in Columbia, South Carolina, Mason confessed to the crime and was imprisoned for two life terms. He had been a law-abiding citizen in decades since the crime, and was a wealthy retiree respected in his community.

LECTURE #2 is Steve Renteria’s presentation on his use of DNA evidence in two remarkable murder cases, and the provocative questions that were raised. Case #1 is the Phil Spector / Lana Clarkson murder investigation. Questions raised include: should DNA technology be used to answer questions which are not actually an issue in a specific crime scene purely to counter the impact of “The CSI Effect” on the jury? When should common sense take precedence over what the professionals think the jury needs to hear? Case #2 concerns the death of “Christina,” a woman kidnapped from an ATM and killed by her captors. Questions raised include: should crime labs apply an assembly-line approach for all cases in order to maximize numbers of samples tested? Why does each case and each item of evidence need special attention in order to get the most information possible?

By the afternoon’s conclusion, attendees will have a deeper understanding of the real work that’s done in the field by criminalists, and the tools and techniques used to interpret crime scenes for the benefit of investigating officers and juries. Come discover the reality, so different from and so much more interesting than, what you’ve seen on TV.

Cost: $36.50 per person. To reserve your spot, click here.  Last minute guests, yes, you can bring cash to the crime lab today (check in is at 11:30am for a noon showtime).  

A portion of the proceeds from this event supports the research of Criminalistics graduate students at Cal State Los Angeles.