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Forensic expert Lee to speak

By Sally Harris

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 24 - March 21, 1996

Henry C. Lee, the forensic expert who testified for O.J. Simpson, will be the guest speaker at a special colloquium on March 28.

The colloquium will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the front auditorium of the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center, with a reception following in Conference room A.

Lee is a world-renowned expert in forensic science. He is director of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Laboratory and professor of forensic science at the University of New Haven.

Over the last century, the crime rate has increased more than 100 percent world wide. FBI crime statistics show a crime committed every two seconds in the United States: a murder every 25 minutes, a rape every six minutes, and a robbery every 58 seconds, for example.

On the other hand, the Uniform Crime Reports for the U.S. show that only 19 percent of the crimes are solved. One of the reasons is the lag in technological developments in crime solving. Forensic science has become the major force in solving crime.

Forensic science is the application of natural sciences to matters of the law. It draws on the principles and methods of the traditional sciences such as chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics and has several branches, including forensic medicine, forensic psychiatry, and forensic toxicology.

Contemporary advances in biochemistry, molecular biology, instrumentation, micro-circuitry, and electronics have virtually revolutionized the capability of forensic-science laboratories. The recent innovations in law enforcement include DNA typing that enables forensic laboratories to identify an individual more conclusively, the Life Scan fingerprint system that allows police to compare a suspect's fingerprints at the point of arrest with millions of fingerprints in a file within minutes, lasers used to help discover and retrieve physical evidence, computer-assisted image-enhancement systems for comparing fingerprints, handwriting, tool marks, and other pattern evidence, and artificial intelligence and expert systems to model and represent investigative theories, develop crime-scene reasoning, and profile criminals.

Lee will discuss the principles and background of these new technologies using examples from nationally and internationally known cases to illustrate the potential and applications of the techniques.

Lee is being hosted by T.K. Lee, professor of physics. The colloquium is sponsored by Virginia Tech's physics department, Radford University's criminal-justice department, and Virginia Tech's Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

For more information, call Lee at 1-8998 or Chris Thomas at 1-8728.