Forensic Botany: Utilizing Plant Evidence to Solve Crimes

Forensic botanical evidence is relevant in high‐profile criminal casework and in circumstantial cases where little other evidence is available. When requested to assess the value of botanical evidence, a myriad of questions typically arise. A discussion of available scientific methods follows to establish how best to classify, identify, individualize, database and utilize this unique form of biological evidence. Case examples are often the best method for visualizing applications and fostering discussion with investigators. Two of the most fascinating cases I have been asked to participate in include a John Jay University student homicide where plant seed evidence was associative to the body, vehicle, and defendant (People of the State of New York v. Darryl Littlejohn); and an outdoor crime scene and clandestine grave where placement of botanical evidence and weather conditions were key controversial evidence regarding criminal intent and premeditation (State of Kansas v. Luis Aguirre).

Heather Miller Coyle

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