Portfolio Milestone: Science and Technology in Criminal Investigations

Portfolio Milestone

Science and Technology in Criminal Investigations

CRJ336 Criminal Investigations

Colorado State University Global

The trial of Jodi Arias brought many things to light about the relationship between Arias and Alexander. Most of the evidence presented was circumstantial and/or anecdotal such as the defensive wounds found on Alexander’s body, Arias’ bandaged hands, her journal entries and he inconsistent stories. The evidence that was presented that required deeper analysis through science and technology was what really did Arias in. Alexander’s new camera that was found in the washing machine, the pathology of Alexander’s body, and the bloody handprint in the bathroom where Alexander was found seemingly sealed Arias’ coffin.


The camera found at the scene of the crime was probably one of the most damning pieces of evidence brought against Arias. Police found the camera in the washing machine; it had gone through a wash cycle with clothing that was ruined with bleach and the images had been deleted (Smolowe & Bruer, 2013). Even though someone tried very hard to get rid of the pictures, digital forensic technicians were able to recover the images on the SD card. The images recovered showed Alexander and Arias being intimate, Alexander in the shower, and finally several images of Alexander laying on the bathroom floor bleeding out (Smolowe & Bruer, 2013).

It is unclear exactly how they were able to retrieve the photos but it is possible that the SD card could have escaped water damage simply because it was still inserted in the camera. This technology is not new, police have been able to recover digital images and records from completely destroyed electronics. Finding these images really sealed the case for many. The images were time stamped and allowed prosecutors to establish that Arias was very likely the last person to see Alexander alive. In addition to Arias’ testimony that Alexander had become enraged after she dropped the new camera (Blanco, n.d.), this evidence very likely cemented the decisions of the jury. I think that if they were not able to pull the images, especially the very incriminating photos of Alexander lying on the floor, bleeding profusely, then the defense would have been able to build a stronger case for Arias.


Many felt that the firearm evidence was very damning as well, but the weapon was never found, it could not be established if the gun was the same as the one stolen from Arias’ grandparents house, and no records could verify that the gun belonged to Alexander as Arias had claimed (Blanco, n.d.). The pathology report, conducted by Doctor Kevin Horn, showed that even though Alexander was shot through his face this is not what killed him (Office of the Medical Examiner, 2008). The most important determination that came from the pathology report was time of death. The medical examiner was able to show that the level of decomposition was consistent with the time of the photographs (Hill, 2013).

Pathological reports have always proved to be helpful in homicide cases. The examination by the medical examiner gave the prosecution the manner in which Alexander died. In addition to that, investigators were able to give a more accurate description of the weapons used to kill him. None of the weapons used were ever recovered (Gaynor, 2018). Finally, the violent manner in which Alexander was murdered is consistent with ‘passion murders’. Arias provided a story that Alexander and her were attacked by two men, but the extent of Alexander’s injuries and the lack of Arias’ made this hard to believe.

The science that goes into autopsies is important. If the evidence found from the autopsy had not been collected or submitted, I don’t think it would have impacted the investigation much at all. Many photos of Alexander’s body and the entirety of the bathroom were displayed during the trial. The scene was incredibly gruesome and the state of Alexander’s body told a story of explosive violence.


The DNA evidence in the case was also key to sealing Arias fate. Investigator found a bloody hand print in the bathroom (Hill, 2013). They were not able to get fingerprints but samples of the blood were taken. DNA profiling was done to the sample that came from the handprint and the results of that testing refuted the possibility that Arias was nowhere near Alexander when he was killed. Thanks to DNA analysis, the sample showed that there were two DNA profiles: Alexander’s and Arias’ (Hill, 2013).

Having the DNA evidence made it even harder for Arias’ to maintain her story that she was innocent. If this evidence was not provided, I think it would have been very impactful on the case. DNA evidence is hard to refute and if her blood had not been found mixed with his then I think there could have been a real chance that she could have gotten away with it. The photos from the day of the murder do show that Arias was there with him and the two pictures that show Alexander bleeding don’t actually confirm that Arias did it.

A lot of evidence in this case was circumstantial and I think that if the investigation lacked any of the science or technology used to analyze these pieces of evidence, and if Arias had kept her story straight, then the case might have fallen apart for the prosecution.


Gaynor, T. (2018, September 7). Jodi Arias carefully planned killing, Arizona prosecutor says. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2013-05-02-sns-rt-us-usa-crime-jodiariasbre94201k-20130502-story.html

Hill, S. (2013, November 13). Jodi Arias Trial News Update: Inside Look at the Crime Lab That Processed DNA in the Murder Case [Video]. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from https://www.latinospost.com/articles/31519/20131113/jodi-arias-trial-news-update-inside-look-at-the-crime-lab-that-processed-dna-in-the-murder-case-video.htm

Khey, D. N., & Tebbett, I. (2009). “Forensic Science”. In D. N. Khey, & I. Tebbett, 21st Century Criminology: A Reference Handbook (pp. 687-693). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781412971997.n79

Office of the Medical Examiner. (2008). Report of Autopsy (Case #08-03532). Maricopa County, CA. Retrieved from http://murderpedia.org/female.A/images/arias-jodi/travis-alexander-autopsy-report.pdf

Smolowe, J., & Breuer, H. (2013). Arizona Murder Trial THE LIES OF JODI ARIAS. People, 79(7), 88.