EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

June 9, 2014

OJ Simpson case taught police what not to do

(Continued)

Police forensic technicians were also faulted by the defense for improperly packaging evidence samples and then leaving them in an overheated van on a summer day. A rookie technician had collected most of the evidence.

The lab now uses barcodes to scan and track evidence. And crime scenes are also more tightly controlled. Trainees like the one who helped at multiple crime scenes in the Simpson case now can only observe the work done by two fully trained criminalists.

“We’re more cognizant of contamination or the possibility of contamination or the appearance of contamination — that a jury might toss out some evidence,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith.

Teams of criminalists overseen by a crime scene manager, who coordinates with detectives, now respond to high-profile and complex crimes, Hudson said.

Another criticism during the trial dealt with a vial of blood taken from Simpson. Police Detective Philip Vannatter drew Simpson’s blood at the LAPD on June 13, the day after the killings. But instead of booking it into evidence, Vannatter put the blood vial in his pocket and went to Simpson’s home where criminalists were collecting evidence.

Jurors questioned why he would have carried it around for hours rather than booking it and the defense argued it may have been used to plant evidence such as blood drops on Simpson’s front walkway.

That would never happen today, Hudson said. Officers still get sidetracked following a suspect or victim to a hospital, for example, before returning to the scene, but today they wouldn’t be allowed to re-enter a crime scene with evidence.

Looking back on the case, Hudson said, “the only thing you can do is when something really bad happens is to try to make something good out of it.”

___

Follow Tami Abdollah at http://www.twitter.com/latams

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