A blood spatter analyst examines blood and its patterns at a crime scene to determine cause of death. This specialized forensic scientist may physically visit crime scenes, as well as analyze photos in a laboratory environment, to gain more knowledge about the object used in the crime and the perpetrator's position relative to the victim. Similar to fingerprint analysis, studying blood spatters can tell a detailed story from their location and composition.
Typical crime scenes are secured so that investigators can examine the evidence left from a crime, including the residual blood. The blood spatter analyst will count the quantity of drops and record their shape through photographs and detailed notes. In fact, distance measurements are taken between each blood spatter drop, either through simple string measurements or electronic meters. These distance measurements help the analyst determine the force of the impact to the victim. The informative blood pattern shapes can be used in this way to help the analyst solve crimes more rapidly.
The blood's composition can be examined at a laboratory by the blood spatter analyst, visually observing the liquid for debris and possible deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis. Blood may have small skin cells and hairs remaining within the mixture that can provide clues for solving a crime. The blood spatter analyst will view the blood sample under a microscope to find minuscule debris. Other analysts may be involved, such as a DNA specialist, to determine the perpetrator's sex and race.
Another key job duty for a person in this position is testifying in a court of law. Investigators must have a credible scientist explain concrete crime scene facts, rather than basing a case on speculation. The analyst must be detailed and articulate in describing forensic blood collection and testing parameters. Juries may base the majority of their final verdicts on an expert's opinion regarding the event's time table, as deduced from the crime scene's blood patterns.
A mixture of education and experience is required to become a blood spatter analyst. Qualified analysts will have a bachelor's degree based in forensic or biological science. In addition, an internship is normally needed for college graduation, allowing the student to practice textbook techniques in a real life situation. An experienced blood spatter analyst will mentor the intern, ensuring that testing protocols are followed for the most accurate results. Doctorate degrees are typically required for analysts who wish to direct a laboratory's overall program, creating or altering testing strategies for successful blood examinations.