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Technology Tells of Torture

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages
This article describes the techniques used to develop a computer-generated presentation that depicted the progression of attacks on a 3-year-old boy by his mother and two of her friends over a 3-hour period, so as to provide evidence of torture leading to the boy's death, thus qualifying it as a capital case under New York State law.
The work was performed by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC)-Northeast Law Enforcement Analysis Facility (LEAF). The LEAF team chose 38 of the prosecutor's hundreds of crime-scene and autopsy photographs that depicted the boy's more than 98 separate injuries. After scanning the photos into a computer, the team progressively removed the injuries and manipulated the photographs to look like natural, uninjured skin. They then put the injuries back into the images. Each team member took a body part and focused on the injuries to that part. When the charges were initially brought against the three suspects, one pled guilty to felony assault, but the boy's mother and male companion maintained their innocence in the face of first-degree murder charges. Although the suspects were of low intelligence, it was clear from the time line of the boy's injuries that at some point they must have known that he was going to die because of what they were doing to him, which included throwing him twice down a flight of stairs. When the defense attorney viewed the graphic presentation of the sequence of the boy's injuries over time, the two suspects pled guilty in return for a sentence of life without parole.

Date Published: January 1, 2000