I dislike being an apologist for Casey Anthony or any defense lawyer, but…

By now everyone still obsessed with Casey Anthony knows that Orange County police admitted yesterday that they failed to find on the Anthony family’s computer a supposedly incriminating Google search dated on the day that little Caylee supposedly died. See the ABA Journal article

I have written extensively about why I think most computer-search evidence should be barred from courtrooms, so I won’t repeat it here. What I do want to point out is how exaggerated yesterday’s media coverage of this “discovery” was and how biased.

Since I’m no longer following the Casey Anthony reality show, I first learned about this story on Fox News’ The Five. All five of the five commentators declared that the search proved Casey’s guilt, because the search was conducted after the time when George Anthony had left for work and only Casey was in the house. Apparently, this time was established by a reporter named Tony Pipitone.

Please read what Pipitone had to say in the Orlando Sentinel before you read the rest of this post.

Another Interpretation or Two

There is another way to interpret Pipitone’s timeline, and it doesn’t require you to accept Jose Baez’s statement that the search was time-stamped at 1:51 instead of 2:51.

Sidebar: Baez’s computer forensics expert is Larry Daniel, a professional for whom I have the greatest respect. If he said the timestamp was 1:51, I believe him. Please read his post on this subject on his blog, Ex Forensis.

Let’s assume that Mr. Daniels is wrong about the time stamp and the search did take place at 2:51. By George Anthony’s sworn testimony, Casey took Caylee out of the house at 1:30.

If George was telling the truth, then Caylee was alive at 1:30. To have conducted the search at 2:51 Casey would have had to wait until her father left the house, then returned, searched for a way to “sufficate” her daughter in a foolproof way, then located information about duct tape, chloroform, and plastic bags, obtained all these substances, killed her daughter, wrapped her up, thrown her in the trunk of the car, and driven away before her mother came home from work that afternoon. Quite a swift accomplishment.

After that Casey would have had to leave the body in the car trunk long enough for decomposed bodily fluids to leak out of the plastic bag, which could only have been after Casey drove her friends around in the car some 2 weeks later (I believe). Then only when the car began to stink did she abandon it.

In other words, this computer search isn’t evidence of Casey’s guilt. It doesn’t matter who searched for suffocation methods or when they did. Whoever conducted the search that afternoon could as easily have been searching for a way to make the child’s death look like a kidnapping and murder, rather than an accident, because he or she was afraid of Cindy Anthony more than the cops. This person could have been terrified that if Cindy found out Caylee died accidentally in his or her care, she would literally scream bloody murder, and that would be the end of “the happy little family,” even if Cindy didn’t have the culprit immediately charged with negligence and manslaughter. (By the way, that’s in essence what she did when she called the cops about the stinking car.)

But, like Mr. Daniels, I believe this isn’t the issue. The outrage over the incompetence of the police is in this case is entirely justified. They were sloppy. And their sloppiness did lead to the acquittal of Casey Anthony. But that’s the way the American system of justice is supposed to work. The police have to be competent and honest, because incompetence and corruption can lead to false convictions as often as acquittals based on insufficient evidence.

“Ten guilty men should go free, lest one innocent man suffer.” The Bill of Rights protects you as well as Casey Anthony. And I’m sure you would never break the law. You could be arrested, though.

Technorati Tags:

Hot Air and Forensic Science

Some time ago in response to my statement that (like one of the jurors who spoke to the press) I suspected Casey Anthony might have used chloroform as a babysitter, blogger “Voice of Sanity” contacted me:

‘Easy’ to concoct is arguable – it is ‘easy’ to accidentally produce phosgene, a deadly gas, instead. DuPont had a release from their plant, killing a worker. VOS

Two chemistry professors in this video clip from In Session disagree: they claim that not only is it easy to concoct, chloroform is also released from chlorinated swimming-pool water and lingers for a very long time in enclosed spaces, such as a car trunk and a sealed can (used by Orlando CSI’s to capture the gases in the air of the trunk and later tested at Oak Ridge National Labs and the FBI lab). (They also admit that pure chloroform is hard to make, but for most people’s purposes the purity is irrelevant.)

Two pieces of evidence presented at trial hinted that Casey Anthony might have used chloroform to sedate her daughter:

  • a computer search for “how to make chloroform” found on the Anthony-family computer
  • a minute amount of chloroform detected in the air in the car trunk

Unfortunately for the prosecution, the evidence did nothing more than hint; the defense thoroughly shredded the forensic analysis of both the computer search and the air in the trunk—and the jury understood this.

Now that I’ve had time to think about it, the chloroform junk should never have been admitted into evidence. It was nothing but hot air. I am absolutely certain now that chloroform played no role in Caylee Anthony’s death, but not because of the difficulty or ease of concocting it at home.

The idea that chloroform might have been used as a murder weapon came initially from a poorly conducted computer forensics analysis of the Anthony hard drive. First, a police officer created a report listing all the Google searches on the hard drive. He found nothing sinister other than a single search on “how to make chloroform.” Because he did not know how to use the analysis software properly, he put the report he had generated aside for almost a year before asking a real software expert to look at, but he did initiate an investigation into the presence of chloroform in the remains and the “crime scene” (the wooded area and the car). The remains and the wooded area produced no hint of chloroform.

Some time later, forensic anthropologist Voss from Oak Ridge examined the air in the trunk in hopes of discovering it contained gases that would prove a human body had decomposed there, one byproduct of which is chloroform. He ran a test on the air using a gas chronometer/mass spectrometer: an instrument that determines the chemical makeup of a substance. Voss found chloroform in the sample—as expected, since he had been told that a body had decomposed in the trunk.

But he did not conduct a test to determine how much chloroform or any other single chemical was in the sample. Instead, all he did was determine that chloroform was present and was the dominant gas in the sample.

And here is where logic flew out the window: Voss assumed the air was filled with the gases of human decomposition, but his studies of the gases of human composition had never before shown that chloroform was the dominant gas. Therefore, he concluded, most of the chloroform in the car trunk sample must have come from some other source than the victim’s body.

Since he was also told that chloroform intoxication was suspected as the cause of death (because of the Google search), he ran to the prosecution with his GSMS readouts—and a theory of the crime was formed.

Let’s look at the prosecution’s syllogism again:

  1. The gas in the car trunk was from the decomposing body of a child killed with chloroform (a faulty premise).
  2. The gas in the car trunk was composed of too much chloroform to have come entirely from the process of decomposition (if you believe Voss’s database).
  3. Ergo: chloroform was the murder weapon.


There was nothing fishy about the Google search for “how to make chloroform,” because it was made in the context of someone’s visit to the Facebook page of one of Casey Anthony’s boyfriends who had written a remark about winning girls over with chloroform.

There was nothing fishy about the findings of a very, very minute amount of chloroform in the air of a smelly car trunk. Chloroform is present in many common household products and produced by the decomposition of mammal flesh, such as pork chops. It’s even present in pool water in which the child could have drowned, as the defense claimed.

Casey Anthony’s bizarre behavior after her child’s death compels me to believe she felt guilty about something. Her mother’s apparently false testimony about being the one who searched for “how to make chloroform” makes me wonder if she doesn’t suspect Casey used chloroform as a babysitter.

But there is no evidence at all—not a shred—that chloroform had anything to do with Caylee Anthony’s death.

So, I still feel Casey Anthony felt responsible for her daughter’s death—even if it was because she didn’t keep an eye on Caylee when she most needed to, and Caylee sneaked out of the house one June morning to go swimming alone.

The Casey Anthony trial should be a wake-up call to the forensic science community: a few more public spectacles like it will sour the public on the whole profession. “Forensics” may produce intriguing clues the likes of which Sherlock Holmes would delight in, but clues aren’t evidence. Detectives need to get back to basics. Prosecutors need to learn to respect juries and present them with solid cases.

Technorati Tags:

“Decoding” the Anthony Family Computer

I haven’t been involved in the computer industry for several years, so I may not be apprised of the all the current buzz words, but yesterday a computer forensics expert (John Bradley) testified in the Casey Anthony trial about “decoding” a portion of the Firefox 2 search cache on the Anthony family’s computer in December 2009: “decoding” isn’t something I had ever heard a computer scientist or programmer (a.k.a. coder) talk about. So I did a Google search of my own to try to “decode” the man’s testimony. What I learned has—once again—troubled me about the way computer-search information is used in American courtrooms.

An April 13, 2011, story by Adam Long of CFNews13.com explains that two Orlando police officers attempted in the summer of 2008 to extract search information from the Anthony family computer using a product called CacheBack (designed by Bradley) and failed. When Sgt. Kevin Stegner met Bradley at a 2009 conference in Orlando, he asked for Bradley’s help. (It sounds to me—this is just a hunch—that Stegner didn’t understand that he could have demanded Bradley’s help in 2008, since Bradley’s product was not performing as advertised. I understand there’s at least one computer-industry professional on the jury who is likely to realize this, too.)

In any case, as Bradley stated in a 2010 deposition, he gladly worked late into the night for three nights on the problem. He resolved the issue and now calls that effort “decoding” the search database. IMHO as a former computer programmer of sorts, what he did was debug CacheBack’s inability to extract search strings from the Firefox 2 data written to the cache on the Anthony hard drive.

Jose Baez yesterday attempted to impeach Bradley by implying to the jury that the bug was in the reported data, rather than the program. He also pointed out Bradley had a strong financial interest in being able to satisfy the Orlando police department about the quality of the product he had sold them. This first implication is misleading. Nothing I read in the deposition suggested that the report contained errors, but the second implication does resonate with me.

Why? Because the police told Bradley what results they were seeking from his efforts and why. That’s right. You read that correctly. The police told Bradley they wanted to find search strings involving “chloroform” because they were investigating the Casey Anthony case.

Surely I don’t have to tell anyone that it isn’t “scientific” to specify the results of an experiment before you conduct the experiment.

No wonder Jose Baez asked at least one prospective juror if he understood why you can’t prove a negative. The Casey Anthony jury is being presented with a situation where Casey Anthony has to prove that 1) she did not run a search on “chloroform” on her family’s computer and 2) even if she did she was not searching for “how to make chloroform” because she wanted to make and use chloroform on her child.

That’s having to prove a negative.

Bradley didn’t “decode” all the search engine data on the computer, by his own admission. He did not look at data from several other browsers that were present on the computer. He did not work on the issue of whether the computer had several “users” with separate passwords. He did not look for any string of characters other than “chloroform,” so he did not turn up any search results that might have supported Casey Anthony’s contentions about how Caylee died.

Very, very bad use of computer forensics. I’m disgusted.

Computer Forensics, For Better, For Worse, in Texas v Baker

Yesterday’s CNN InSession broadcast of the Matt Baker trial covered the testimony of a prosecution computer forensic expert named Noel Kersh, whose witness-stand rhetoric was excellent. Unlike most computer forensics experts I’ve heard, he was very clear without being patronizing and without oversimplifying issues to the point of absurdity.

However, Kersh’s testimony also illustrates what most bothers me about the use of computer forensics in the courtroom: it’s usually completely irrelevant.

Defendant Baker is a former minister who was convicted earlier this year of murdering his wife with a drug cocktail and then staging her suicide.

Sidebar: Kersh is an independent consultant. Apparently, the Waco cops have no computer forensics expertise. They may have compromised a laptop before Kersh could examine it and seem to have permitted Baker to destroy some evidence before the local Justice of the Peace declared the manner of death “undetermined.” Frankly, I think all forensic expertise ought to be supplied to local authorities by private contractors, but I also think local cops ought to have at least basic training in the collection of forensic evidence, including computers.

Relevant Computer Issues

In the Baker case, computers played an important role: not only was the victim’s system found to contain a lethal cocktail of sleep aids (most of which are thought to have been bought online), but she also purportedly left a computer-printed suicide note.

Because the cops didn’t suspect homicide immediately, they didn’t collect any computer evidence at the scene. They didn’t even check to see if there was a working printer with ink and paper (at least as far as I can discern). (You would think they would have protocols for examining suicide scenes, but apparently not.) They collected only the suicide note, and left their own fingerprints all over it.

Sidebar: Here’s a little shameless self-promotion. In a short story, “’Tis the Season to K.I.S.S.,” my killer-heroine uses a computer and printer without leaving a single clue for the forensics guys.

The Baker home at the time—as I understand it from TV coverage—had at least two computers, a laptop and a desktop. By the time the cops wanted to examine the desktop (several months later), Baker claimed to have gotten rid of it. The cops seized the laptop, but compromised the data by inadvertently turning it on and booting it up by opening the screen. Both of these computers might have held evidence of the suicide note—key evidence.

IMHO—as a computer owner since the very early 1980s—the Baker’s missing desktop is extremely suspicious. If I were an investigator, I would have tried to track this computer down.

In my experience, a computer is the most-difficult item on earth to discard. I and my friends all have several generations of computers stored in basements, attics, garages, and even under my current computer desk. It’s illegal to dump them in a landfill here (IL). You have to pay specialists to recycle them (and even then you have to transport them to the recycling facility; no one will pick them up). If you leave them on the curb for a scavenger to collect, you have to remove the hard drives for fear of identity theft. You might be able to resell them on eBay, I suppose; but you’d better wipe them clean with a really good hard drive reformatting tool.

Online Searches

The core, surviving computer evidence in the Baker case was evidence of Baker’s online activity: web searches and websites visited. Most of this data was collected from computers where Baker worked, since his home PC had “vanished.”

Kersh did a great job of finding Baker’s searches for online sources of drugs and of proving Baker was the user, not someone else in the office: he found near-simultaneous email activity to and from Baker’s email address. I can’t say enough about how well-done this documentation was. Unlike other cases (Scott Peterson, for example), Baker’s online identity was documented. According to Kersh, Baker searched extensively for online pharmacies where he could have obtained the drugs that were found in his wife’s system.

Honeymoon Websites

The prosecution also questioned Kersh about Baker’s online activities after his wife’s death. This is where I begin to question the “evidence.”

Kersh found evidence that five weeks after his wife’s death, Baker made inquiries about a Fiji honeymoon with his fiancée. So what? Baker was having an affair with a divorced, single mom when his wife died. Is it suspicious that he would want to marry her as soon as possible? He had two daughters of his own to care for at that time.

No, I’m not naive. I don’t think it’s entirely proper for a man to marry so soon after the suicide of his wife, but I also don’t think this is entirely proper evidence of guilt that should be presented to a jury.

In every murder trial, much is made, I know, of “the defendant’s state of mind,” because the law permits evidence of state of mind at the time of the alleged crime. Intent is a key element of the law. But what does the defendant’s state of mind long after the crime have to do with anything?

Prosecutors need to get a life, I think, when it comes to computer evidence. And, yes, I need to get a life, too. (And I pray I’m never accused of a crime based on my bizarre computer searches as I research murder.)

Technorati Tags:

Appealing Verdicts, Unappealing Spouses, and Pretrial Publicity

The language of the U. S. Constitution is clear and succinct. Before a person can be condemned, he or she is entitled to the “due process” of the law, a right that, as US Constitution.net explains, is as old as the Magna Carta.

  • Sidebar: An original, signed copy of the Magna Carta is on display at Salisbury Cathedral, which serves as a Hogwarts set in the Harry Potter movies (BTW, the most-recent of which flicks is unintelligible if you haven’t read the book).

The Fifth Amendment says, “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law . . . .” But what is “due process”? Does a person convicted in the press enjoy this “due process”?

Due Process and the Press

In the U. S., the press obscures its unfair, pretrial condemnations of suspects by hiding behind the First Amendment. For decades journalism students have been taught that all they need to do is use the words “suspect” and “allegedly” to avoid libel and slander suits.

Recently, I’ve noticed even those words vanishing from the vocabulary of TV talking heads, though. When is the last time you heard Casey Anthony referred to as a “suspect in her daughter’s death” or that she “allegedly” did anything?

British and Canadian law, however, prohibit incendiary pretrial publicity, according to Prof. Cecil Greek of Florida State University, in his article, “Shadow Justice.” I wonder if it isn’t time for a high-profile murder defendant to challenge the Constitutionality of pretrial condemnations in this country?

Unappealing Spouses

This radical idea occurred to me while watching the trial of Mark Jensen, which was replayed on TruTV last week. While I understand why the jury found Jensen guilty of the poisoning murder (ethylene glycol) of his wife, knowing as we do now that a retrial is likely I wonder whether it is possible for any future jury in Wisconsin to be objective, given the prejudicial press coverage.

  • Sidebar: I believe the evidence against Jensen boils down to three irrelevant, trivial facts: 1) the “letter from the grave,” 2) “inappropriate behavior” after his wife’s death, and 3) computer Internet activity.
  • The “letter from the grave” is the improperly admitted evidence that’s likely to cause a retrial. This is the weirdest evidence that has ever sent anyone to the slammer. His wife must have been crazy to believe he was trying to kill her, then to write a letter and stuff it hastily into a neighbor’s pocket, and still not to take the kids and leave the guy. And don’t tell me about battered wife syndrome. She was not a battered wife. She sounds just plain paranoid to me.
  • As far as inappropriate behavior, if that were a crime we’d all be in jail. And don’t forget Cynthia Sommer, who was falsely condemned for the poisoning murder of her husband because she got breast implants after he died.
  • The Jensen computer forensic evidence doesn’t convince me, either. There’s no way of proving who searched the Internet for murder tips, and the emails in question don’t seem to prove a thing, in my opinion (but I am not a lawyer, and I did not personally read the emails).
  • All that the prosecution proved to me is that Jensen hated his wife and vice versa.

While I’ll undoubtedly incur your cyber-wrath for saying so, I feel the evidence against Scott Peterson was equally flimsy. (No evidence of foul play was found in his house, car, or boat; it isn’t illegal to have an affair while your wife is pregnant—even when your choice of a bimbo is appalling; it isn’t illegal to buy a boat or go fishing with it—with or without proper equipment; it isn’t illegal to claim to be in London or Paris at midnight in California on New Year’s Eve—just stupid.) The sole incriminating evidence was that his wife’s body was ultimately found on the shore of the bay where he was fishing. Anyone could have dumped the body in the bay after all the pretrial (post-disappearance) publicity intending to incriminate him. Even I knew, way out here in the Midwest, that Scott went fishing on Christmas Eve, and I knew it within a day or two of the disappearance.

Other spouses the media dislike include the unfortunate nurse, Raynella Dossett-Leath, whom the media in TN dubbed “The Black Widow.” Like Mark Jensen, she’s accused of having tried to poison her husband and then, that failing, of having killed him. (In the Jensen case, prosecutors tried to prove that the wife was suffocated in addition to poisoned; but the medical examiner’s testimony is a bit vague.)

If you “Google” the phrase “wife accused of poisoning husband,” you’ll retrieve a long list of similar cases. In one, a nurse was accused of poisoning her husband; the defense attorney feared a jury trial because of pretrial publicity and chose a bench trial instead. Apparently it was a wise decision, because the judge acquitted the nurse.

Verdicts on Appeal

Jensen is appealing his conviction. Peterson is appealing his conviction. Dossett-Leath is awaiting retrial. If either Jensen or Peterson wins the appeal, their retrials will be circuses. And Casey Anthony doesn’t stand a chance of acquittal, either. All these defendants need a serious change of venue, but under U.S. law, a change of venue only brings in a jury from outside the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. The trial still takes place inside the state (I believe).

Change of venue is a farce in any nationally known case. Scott Peterson had a change of venue, but I believe I recall a lawyer complaining that jurors or witnesses had to drive past an accusatory billboard on the way to the courthouse.

There is at least one solution to this impasse: judges could be very careful about admitting merely prejudicial testimony into evidence.

For example, I don’t think coworkers’ descriptions of Mark Jensen at a Christmas party soon after his wife’s death should be admissible. Let’s face it, “eye-witness” accounts are highly subjective, and office party behavior isn’t a crime or proof of anything except that a partygoer may have been enjoying himself. Nor do I think Amber Frey’s testimony and audio tapes ought to have been admitted into evidence; all they proved was that Peterson wanted to hop into bed with her while his wife was missing. In the recent Dossett-Leath trial, the judge admitted evidence from a neighbor that the defendant waved at her on the day of the death when she had never before done that. What does that prove? That the neighbor never before noticed her waving or that the defendant decided at last to be friendlier?

The pr
ess is out of control. The public in cyberspace  (myself included) is free to express an opinion about any suspicious death of a spouse or child, without knowing the first thing about the case. (BTW: I do try not to prejudge defendants. That’s more than most can say.) Prosecutors in high-profile cases are forced to over-charge and then to win at any cost, because the real price of losing such a trial is losing your job.

So, unless pretrial publicity can be controlled, judges need to start being judicious.

The Calculus of Expert Testimony: Trooper Higbee Trial

At last! The prosecution is currently presenting its “computer forensics” witness—the Ford Motor Company engineer who analyzed Trooper Robert Higbee’s vehicle black box. And he’s committing all the rhetorical sins a technical witness can commit in front of a jury (IMHO).

Expert Error No. 1

I’ve said it before, but the worst rhetorical error a technical witness can make is to confuse the jury. In this case, the poor explanation of the black-box data may be the fault of the prosecutor (his choice and sequence of questions, for example), or it may simply be that the expert witness doesn’t have much experience testifying in criminal trials (as defense attorney Subin appears to have pointed out).

In any case, the testimony is belaboring a sub-second by sub-second record of the ups and downs of acceleration and deceleration before what the witness calls “the impact.” I guess this witness didn’t take Freshman Comp 101 in college, so he never learned the value of a thesis statement. Listening to his testimony is like reading the footnotes of an essay before you read the opening paragraph.

Expert Error No. 2

This expert witness is also making a mistake I’ve noticed in other trials, such as the expert in garbage bags in the Melanie McGuire murder trial (also NJ—pure coincidence, I assume). This expert is trying to support the prosecution’s side of the case rather than his own data—and it’s painfully obvious. Attorney Subin is doing a nice job of jumping all over the witness’s biased word choice, such as adjectives that suggest the black box could tell how much pressure the trooper was applying to the brakes. I believe most jurors appreciate an objective expert witness, regardless of the side for which he’s testifying.

Expert Error No. 3 (or is it trick no. 1?)

The expert witness is also irritating me by his loose ranges of numbers. Statistics drawn from data are always subject to a range of “plus or minus,” because statistics are only estimates. We all know this. But the range has to be within a “margin of error” that is reasonable.

There’s always at least a 1% variance because chance is 50:50. Most valid statistical predictions (that is accurate statistics) assume a margin of error of plus or minus 2%. For example, a well-calibrated black box might record a car as traveling 100 miles an hour when it was really traveling 98 miles an hour or 102 miles an hour. At 65 miles an hour the 2% error rate is plus or minus 1.3 mph or 63.7 to 66.3 mph. In fact, don’t all drivers “know” they can speed 5 miles over the limit without being pulled over, because the margin of error for radar devices is about plus or minus 2?

But if I heard correctly, the expert testified that the black box in question had an error rate of minus 2 mph to minus 8 mph at 65 mph. Where’s the plus? Is he saying the black box is calibrated to under-report the vehicle’s speed? And the amount it can be in error varies up to 400%. What good is it, then? And clearly the rate of error lies far outside accepted statistical error rates—especially in a homicide trial.

But this isn’t the greatest rhetorical trick being employed here. The greatest trick is stating that the data representing the “final 20 feet” of the accident are missing, because black-box data is recorded in 2/10ths of a second increments and, at a speed of 100 feet per second, that 2/10ths of a second represents 20 feet.

OK, even this fairly mathematically illiterate former juror can see from the expert’s charts that the car was not traveling at 100 mph when the final data point was collected. That means it’s less than 20 feet—closer to 12 feet, it seems to me.

The Point of Impact

Not to mention that the expert witness identified “the point of impact” in his data as being the point at which the black box ceased to function. That makes no sense. The black box must have operated until the motor (electrical power) cut off. Of course, maybe I missed testimony from mechanics or accident reconstructionists who testified that the power went off on impact. If so, then ignore the rest of what I have to say.

Why should the expert assume that the trooper’s last application of the brakes was the first impact? Didn’t the cars bounce around a bit? What if he applied the brakes before the first impact (as appears to have happened in the data) and then reapplied them during the collision in an attempt to halt the forward motion of the car? Or what if he applied the breaks briefly several feet from the intersection and then again when he first saw the white van to his right?

My point about “the point of impact” is that this expert witness is making many assumptions without considering alternatives. And he seems to me to be doing it because he thinks that’s his job as a prosecution witness.

Prosecution Exhibit s40

The prosecution is presenting a chart to the jury this afternoon which divides the incident into five phases, each with a duration and a distance. Unfortunately, here too there’s an enormous margin of error. For example, the “4th phase” or “braking” phase, is said to have occurred from minus 2.6 seconds to minus 1.6 seconds before impact (again, that mushy deadline) and to have covered from 276 to 166 feet. (I’m assuming the range of feet is the distance the car traveled, that is 110 feet; but the rhetoric is so confusing that it could mean it’s possible the car traveled 276 feet in distance or 166 feet in distance and the 110 feet is variance. Hmmm. Besides, if his calculations are based on 20 feet per second, how could the car have traveled more than 100 feet in a second if it was going under 80 miles per hours?)

In any case, 110 feet is a long way, isn’t it? I thought the “Rules of the Road” said a car should begin braking at 50 feet before a stop sign. If Trooper Higbee hit the brakes 110 feet before the impact, then he was braking well before the stop sign.

CSI: Confusing Scientific Information

If were on the Higbee jury, I’d be hoping one of my fellow jurors understood calculus enough to check this witness’s figures.