Canadian Lab Helps Solve California Cold Case from 1994

Canadian Lab Helps Solve California Cold Case from 1994

This is a discussion on Canadian Lab Helps Solve California Cold Case from 1994 within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Real Life CSI!! Canadian lab helps convict Californian of '94 murder From my local paper....

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  1. #1
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    Canadian Lab Helps Solve California Cold Case from 1994

    Real Life CSI!!

    Canadian lab helps convict Californian of '94 murder

    From my local paper.
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    Pretty cool. 1 less scumbag free.
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    The article...

    Canadian lab helps convict Californian of '94 murder

    Firm matched bullets to tampered handgun

    BY RANDY BOSWELL, CANWEST NEWS SERVICEAPRIL 10, 2009


    For 15 years, the murder of Philip Cousins in the southern California city of Santa Ana went unsolved.

    From the beginning, police in Orange County had a prime suspect in the March 1994 homicide. Cousins, a 44-year-old property manager, had argued shortly before his death with employee Doug Mireles, then a 27-year-old rent collector who was also known to be the last person to see his boss alive.

    Mireles even owned a .32-calibre, semi-automatic handgun -- the kind used to kill Cousins, who was shot in the chest and the back of the head, then left in the trunk of his own car.

    But police were never able to match the bullets taken from Cousins' body with the gun seized from Mireles's home. Investigators were told the barrel of the gun had been tampered with -- damaged badly enough by a screwdriver or drill bit that it was impossible for ballistics experts to connect the fatal bullets to the suspected killer.

    Years passed. Mireles remained free. Police in Santa Ana quietly fumed.

    But, unfortunately for Mireles, a Canadian company called Forensic Technology was spending those years revolutionizing the science of guns and bullets.

    The Montreal-based firm, which has developed an array of high-resolution scanning systems as part of its breakthrough ballistics database -- the "IBIS" tool referenced regularly on television's CSI police dramas -- recently unveiled a three-dimensional bullet-imaging device that matches weapons to their projectiles with fingerprint-like precision.

    In 2006, with the Cousins case being re-examined as part of a California cold-case project, Santa Ana Police firearms specialist Rocky Edwards dusted off a box of evidence from the 1994 killing -- including the suspected murder weapon, the bullet removed from Cousins's brain and test bullets fired from Mireles's gun during the original investigation -- and flew to Montreal to meet FT's ballistics technicians.

    The company's IBIS Bullettrax-3D sensor (IBIS stands for Integrated Ballistic Identification System) produces such detailed pictures of a bullet's surface that the distinctive, microscopic scratches made by each gun barrel show up like the peaks and valleys of a canyon in a satellite image.

    "He knew our company was working on a system with nano-scale, topographical imaging of bullets," says Stacy Stern, FT's North American sales director. "He asked if he could come to Montreal with the evidence."

    There, they re-tested the bullet that killed Cousins, comparing it with other bullets fired from Mireles's gun.

    Edwards said Thursday that he and the FT experts "spent about 12 hours, all night and early morning" scanning the bullets and examining the results.

    "We were getting tired, but what they did is print out everything we were looking at."

    Back in the U.S., Edwards re-examined the pictures -- which convert readings from all sides of a bullet's cylindrical surface and flattens them into a single image -- and "one screen shot stood out."

    It revealed a clear correlation between the scratches on the "autopsy bullet" and the test bullets where they'd passed through a tiny part of the gun barrel that hadn't been damaged in 1994.

    "It showed me that there was agreement," said Edwards.

    The striations on the bullets and the marks inside the gun barrel -- too faint and disfigured to be adequately compared in the mid-1990s with the technology of that era -- showed for the first time that the Mireles gun had indeed fired all of the bullets, including the one recovered from Cousins's corpse.

    Mireles was arrested in 2007. Last year, he was indicted by a grand jury and, by this year, was headed for trial set to begin in March.

    But faced with the evidence gathered at Forensic Technology's Montreal lab -- and over the advice of his own lawyers -- Mireles pleaded guilty on March 2 to first-degree murder in the death of Philip Cousins. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison, with little likelihood he'll ever be paroled.

    "I will spend the rest of my life learning how to live with the pain," Ruth Allen, Cousins's widow, told the court at sentencing.

    World news updated 24/7 at vancouversun.com/world

    Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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    jfl
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    28 years for what appears to be a cold-blooded murder ??? Cheap !
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