Sexual Assault: Child Abuse

by Kiana DelGrosso


This appeal is by Mr. Cruz who was charged with attempted first degree sexual assault of a child, attempted incest pertaining to his daughter, and child abuse. Cruz states that the evidence convicting him of first degree sexual assault and attempted incest were insufficient when pertaining to his daughter G. C. The court agrees that there was insufficient amount of evidence pertaining to the conviction of first degree sexual assault and attempted incest when pertaining to his daughter G. C. However, the charges of child abuse to G. C. and all charges relating to his other daughter V.C. are affirmed.

Each child had testified against their father explaining to the jury and the court using diagrams what their father had done. Cruz was first convicted of charges involving G. C. as first degree attempted sexual assault of a child, attempted incest, and child abuse. In the case of V. C., Cruz was convicted of first degree sexual assault of a child, incest, a first and second count of visual depictions of sexual conduct with a child participant, and child abuse. However, this appeal is aimed at the charges of attempted first degree sexual assault and attempted incest with G. C. because of insufficient evidence and the lack of credibility V. C. has pertaining to her allegations of sexual abuse. According to the statute Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-703(1), first degree of sexual assault of a child and incest require penetration to have occurred. In this case, that aspect was not met when recounting both girls’ statements.

When moving onto the V. C., Cruz stated that there was a prior sexual assault that had occurred on his daughter by someone else. The appeal wished to eliminate her credibility as a witness and victim because of this prior ordeal. However, this was not excluded because Cruz had not been able to provide any substantial evidence that convinced the court that V. C.’s statements were not credible. There was only insufficient evidence to support Cruz’ conviction for first degree attempted sexual assault of a child and attempted incest because of lack of penetration being evident. The other charges still stand.

State v. Cruz, No. A-15-097., NEBRASKA COURT OF APPEALS, 23 Neb. App. 814; 876 N.W.2d 404; 2016 Neb. App. LEXIS 66, March 22, 2016, Filed

Citation: 23 Neb. App. 814; 876 N.W.2d 404; 2016 Neb. App. LEXIS 66. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2016/05/24.

Website: file:///C:/Users/great/Downloads/AppellateOpinion.pdf

Sexual Assault: Child Abuse

 by Kiana DelGrosso


Mr. and Mrs. Solander were charged with child abuse, endangerment, and sexual assault of their three foster daughters. Each of the girls testified that they were catheterized when punished for urinary incontinence, or “wetting the bed”. This punishment was enforced with the threat of genital mutilation if they did not cooperate. The dispute of this case was the legally definition of the terms sexual assault and sexual penetration. The Solander’s believed that they should not be charged of sexual assault because if the children had been catheterized, there was no sexual motivation or intention. The court, jury, and State included definitions of each that are found under NRS 200.366 for sexual assault and NRS 200.364 for sexual penetration. Neither of these definitions involve there being any sexual intent for their actions thus dismissing the Solander’s argument.

The Solander’s then testified that since the literal definitions of sexual assault and sexual penetration do not include sexual intent, then any medical staff member could be charged with either when they must act under medical emergencies. Pointed out in NRS 200.364 amendment, sexual penetration would not be applied in cases of medical purposes. Mr. and Mrs. Solander state that they had used the catheter for medical purposes but in earlier statements from the foster children that usage of a catheter was meant for punishment not medical purposes, dismissing the Solander’s second argument. The order of judgment was reversed and the district court is to remand this case.

State v. Solander, No. 67710, No. 67711, SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA, 2016 Nev. LEXIS 330, April 19, 2016, Filed

Citation: 2016 Nev. LEXIS 330. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2016/05/24.

Website: file:///C:/Users/great/Downloads/15-28990.pdf

An experimental investigation of the indirect transfer and deposition of gunshot residue: Further studies carried out with SEM–EDX analysis

by Kenneth Ujevich

Experiments were undertaken in order to explore the potential for gunshot residue (GSR) particles to undergo tertiary transfer (a set of three clearly defined transfer events) and to be deposited on individuals in the vicinity of a firearm discharge. Samples were taken from hands following a series of test-firings. Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray specteoscopy (SEM–EDX) with automated detection and analysis software was used to determine the presence of GSR on these samples. As many as 22 particles were found to have undergone tertiary transfer via a series of handshakes following a firearm discharge. In one run, a particle measuring 49.19 μm was recovered from a tertiary transfer recipient. Significant numbers of particles were also recovered from bystanders, with as many as 36 being detected on a sample taken from an individual who was in the proximity of a firearm discharge. In regards to these results, the need to prevent unwanted transfer during the collection phase is highlighted, and the importance of acknowledging the possibility of secondary and tertiary transfers when reconstructing firearms incidents is also stressed.

James French, Ruth Morgan. “An experimental investigation of the indirect transfer and deposition of gunshot residue: Further studies carried out with SEM–EDX analysis.” Forensic Science International, Volume 247, February 2015, Pages 14-17, ISSN 0379-0738,

A new method to reduce false positives due to antimony in detection of gunshot residues

by Kenneth Ujevich

False positives due to the presence of antimony in vehicle seat fabrics are a problem in gunshot residue (GSR) analysis, in particular, when graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAAS) is employed. This experiment was performed to determine the reason for the false positive results and to propose a new approach for the analysis of GSR on vehicle seats. GFAAS was used to examine adhesive tape swabs collected from 100 seats of 50 different automobiles. Characterization of seat fabrics was carried out by using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray specteoscopy (SEM/EDX). The results of FTIR analysis showed that all seat covers containing antimony were composed of polyester. Experimental results obtained by SEM/EDX analysis revealed that the fabrics in these seat covers contained evenly distributed antimony within the structure of the polyester fibers. This study shows that the type of seat fabric should be determined by FTIR spectroscopy before elemental GSR analysis. In this way, most of the false positives caused by polyester fibers in GSR analysis can be prevented, or at least accounted for.

Çağdaş Aksoy, Taner Bora, Nilgün Şenocak, Fırat Aydın. “A new method to reduce false positives due to antimony in detection of gunshot residues.” Forensic Science International, Volume 250, May 2015, Pages 87-90, ISSN 0379-0738,

Gunshot residue preservation in seawater

by Kenneth Ujevich

In order to learn more about the persistence of gunshot residue (GSR) in soft tissue and bones during decomposition in marine environments, a quantity of 36 fleshed and 36 defleshed bovine ribs were shot at contact range with 0.22 caliber hollow point ammunition using a Stirling 0.22 caliber long rifle. Bone specimens in triplicate were placed in three environments: submerged, intertidal and in the supralittoral zone, which is never submerged by water but is influenced by sea spray and splashing. Sets of triplicates were recovered on days 3, 10, 24 and 38, and analyzed with scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM–EDX), and inductive coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The SEM–EDX recorded GSR-indicative particles surrounding the bullet entrance on the fleshed and defleshed bones in all environments throughout the study. GSR-unique particles were only detected on the supralittoral bones. The ICP-MS analysis showed the fastest GSR loss on submerged defleshed specimens. Fleshed specimens showed a faster GSR loss on intertidal than submerged and supralittoral specimens. In general, the GSR disappeared faster from submerged and intertidal than non-submerged specimens. The difference of detection of GSR between analyzed specimens (defleshed versus fleshed) disappeared upon defleshing. This study highlights the potential of finding evidence of GSR in a submerged body and the potential of microscopic and analytical methods for examining suspected gunshot wounds in highly decomposed bodies in marine habitats.

Anne-Christine Lindström, Jurian Hoogewerff, Josie Athens, Zuzana Obertova, Warwick Duncan, Neil Waddell, Jules Kieser. “Gunshot residue preservation in seawater.” Forensic Science International, Volume 253, August 2015, Pages 103-111, ISSN 0379-0738,

Measurement of effective atomic number of gunshot residues using scattering of gamma rays

by Kenneth Ujevich

Better understanding of gunshot residues and the major elemental composition would be valuable to forensic scientists for their analysis work and interpretation of results. In this experiment, the atomic numbers of gunshot residue-containing items (cartridge case, bullet core, bullet jacket and gunpowder) were analyzed using energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX). The scattering of 59.54 keV gamma rays is studied using a high-resolution HPGe (high-purity germanium) detector. The experiment is performed on various elements with atomic number (Z) in the range of 4 to 82. The results, which is the intensity ratio of coherent to Compton scattered peaks, are plotted as a function of atomic number and constituted a best-fit-curve. From this fit-curve, the respective effective atomic numbers of gunshot residues are determined. Based on the data, the theoretical atomic numbers match up nicely with the calculated atomic numbers that resulted from the curve. This shows that the method used in this experiment is a simple, non-destructive technique that accurately determines the atomic numbers of gunshot residues.

Demet Yılmaz, Ahmet Turşucu, Zeynep Uzunoğlu, Demet Korucu. “Measurement of effective atomic number of gunshot residues using scattering of gamma rays.” Radiation Physics and Chemistry, Volume 102, September 2014, Pages 68-71, ISSN 0969-806X,

From binary presumptive assays to probabilistic assessments: Differentiation of shooters from non-shooters using IMS, OGSR, neural networks, and likelihood ratios

by Kenneth Ujevich

Screening tests are used in forensic science for field testing and directing laboratory analysis of physical evidence. These tests are often binary in that the data produced is interpreted as yes/no or present/absent. This research describes the results of using ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) and hand swab samples collected from 73 individuals to differentiate shooters from non-shooters by targeting organic constituents of firearms discharge residues. Each individual completed a questionnaire regarding their personal hobbies to accurately explain positive test results. Pattern matching was undertaken using neural networks, which are well-suited to classification and prediction tasks across large data sets. Decision thresholds were established using likelihood ratios derived from the population study. This approach significantly reduced the background positive rates compared to an arbitrary decision threshold technique. This methodology could be extended to other pattern-recognition algorithms used with instrumental data. This experiment also reports the largest population study to date focused on the organic residues of firearms discharge. The proportion of positives found in the population sample were less than 5%; when a likelihood ratio of 10:1 (shooter/not shooter) was used, the frequency of positives fell below 2%. The results suggest that background levels of organic gunshot residue will not be a significant analytic concern for assay development.

Suzanne Bell, Lauren Seitzinger. “From binary presumptive assays to probabilistic assessments: Differentiation of shooters from non-shooters using IMS, OGSR, neural networks, and likelihood ratios.” Forensic Science International, Volume 263, June 2016, Pages 176-185, ISSN 0379-0738,