The purpose of this paper is to discuss and analyze the practices conducted by law enforcement during the investigation of the murder of Ashley Smith. The following pages will discuss the crime scene investigation, the evidence collection, the investigative steps following the initial crime scene investigation, the interviews of witnesses and suspects, and other strategies performed by the acting case investigators. Constitutional challenges have surfaced regarding specific pieces of critical evidence and a section of this paper will analyze the admissibility of this evidence. Lastly this case’s law enforcement processes will be contrasted with textbook processes in an effort to determine the validity of the case’s outcome.
The Crime Scene
On 11/3/00, two truck drivers discovered the deceased body of fourteen-year-old Ashley Smith in a wooded area behind the Pizza Hut, located on Old Annapolis Rd. Local authorities were dispatched and D/CPL. Glenn Case was designated as the primary investigator on the case. Upon arrival, D/CPL. Case observed that the medical examiner had already examined the body, evidence had been collected, photographs of the crime scene had been taken both on ground and from a helicopter (aerial view), and D/CPL. Case was advised that the victim had not yet been identified. The victim’s body had what appeared to be several stab wounds to her neck and abdominal area. D/CPL Case will later be advised by medical examiners that the victim had been stabbed thirty-four times and had also been manually strangled. The victim’s body was positioned with her head facing towards the Pizza Hut parking lot. The positioning coupled with bloody drag marks on the concrete suggested that the victim had been dragged to its current position by the ankles; the victim’s ankles were swabbed for trace evidence. The victim was partially clothed, she was missing her pants and shoes and her t-shirt was rolled up to reveal her abdomen. No immediate suspects were apparent and a tip line with a $8,000.00 reward was initiated. The murder weapon would later be recovered and turned over to authorities by a citizen that had picked it up from the side of the road; a folding lock blade knife with the appearance of blood on the blade.
Issues With Crime Scene Processes
Upon D/CPL. Case’s arrival at the crime scene there is no documentation in the crime report that he had contact with the first responder, PFC Malcolm. The first responder should brief the primary investigator as it is the only opportunity for the next in command to obtain initial aspects of the crime scene prior to subsequent information (Technical Working Group on Crime Scene Investigation, 2000). Conversing with first responders is vital to providing information to substantiate investigative considerations and is a priority in any properly sanctioned investigative plan (Technical Working Group on Crime Scene Investigation, 2000). Prior to D/CPL. Case’s arrival, key...