Crime Scene Revisited

“I didn’t think the gun was loaded...”

According to evidence photographer Sanford (Sandy) L. Weiss, two young boys who happened to be brothers were playing with a small-caliber, semi-automatic handgun that they had found in their house. The older boy pointed the weapon into the ear of his brother and pulled the trigger. The younger boy was pronounced DOA (dead on arrival) at the hospital. The boy who did the shooting said he thought the gun was not loaded because there was no magazine in the weapon. But there was obviously a round somewhere in it when the trigger was pulled. In the laboratory, technicians found that when fired with a round in the magazine, the gun left a characteristic scratch on the casing. But when fired without a magazine and with a round in the chamber, there was a gouge—not a scratch—left on the casing after it was ejected. Conclusion: The magazine was in the weapon when it was fired. For one reason or another, the older brother lied.

Subject Casing—The casing recovered at the scene had a scratch on the rim.

Exemplar Casing—This casing was test-fired with the magazine installed. Notice the "scratch".

Ejected Casing—When a round was test-fired with no magazine, this "gouge" was made.

Editor's Note: After publication of this piece in the July/August 2008 issue, we received a number of e-mails from firearms examiners regarding some inconsistencies between the text and the photos. We are working with the photographer (Sandy Weiss) to gather more information about this case and will publish that information, when available, on this page. Some of the readers' comments will also be included here. We welcome any comments you may have. Please send a note to: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it



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  July-August 2008 (Volume 6, Number 4)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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