13/10/2006 - Jovem é morto com um tiro na cabeça em posto de gasolina no Andaraí - Felipe Barbosa Mendes de 22 anos, funcionário de uma cooperativa de moto-táxis, foi assassinado enquanto abastecia sua moto em um posto de gasolina na esquina das ruas Galvão Penalva com Paula Britto no Andaraí. Na foto, (sem identificação) parente da vítima ao lado do corpo no local do crime - Foto de Andréa Farias / Ag. O Dia IMAGEM DIGITAL / POLÍCIA / CRIME / MORTE / TIROS/ JOVEM

By Ana Acuna and Carlos  Gutierrez 

Last month thousands took to the streets in communities across Argentina and elsewhere to protest violence against women following the recent rape and murder of a teenager. In the city of Mar del Plata, Lucia Pérez, age 16, was drugged, tortured and raped. She suffered a cardiac arrest and died on Oct 8 from internal injuries.

Protesters dubbed Oct. 19 Black Wednesday, and eighty Argentine cities held demonstrations. In addition, 58 other communities around the world joined in. Participants wore black and carryid signs that read “If you touch one of us, we all react”.  Tweets went out using the hashtag ‘#NiUnaMenos’, which translates as ‘not one less’.

digitalforensics_0The assault on Lucia Pérez was horrific. According to the Argentinian authorities, the suspects purportedly drugged the girl with cocaine and marihuana, and then sexually abused her. Local authorities say when the perpetrators realized the teenager was dead, they washed the body, changed her clothes, and took her to a hospital, explaining that she had overdosed.

Activists in neighboring Chile supported the Black Wednesday initiative and a mass march was held in Santiago, the capital city. Foremost in the minds of the Chileans was the case of Florencia Aguirre’s, a 10 year-old girl who was found burned in a pit, in the country’s Aysen region, about the same time as the Perez murder occurred in Argentina.

Found in the woodshed of her home, the perpetrator, according to the local prosecutor, was her stepfather. He confessed of having asphyxiated the girl by putting a plastic bag on her head until she lost consciousness. He then placed the body into a trash can poured gasoline over it and finally buried it in a pit made by himself. All of this would have happened between 6 am and 9 pm of October 14th, 2016.

Let cool heads Prevail

Although the events in Chile and Argentina, have sent seismic waves through both countries, we believe it is essential to emphasize that the collective anger (though justified) should not derail the justice process. Investigators, lawyers, and judges should remember that the criminal inquiry should be kept isolated from the social environment to avoid a “media lynching” that might jeopardize the investigation or cause a misinterpretation of the evidence.

Forensic scientists should be focused in finding, analyzing, and properly reporting the evidence to provide the necessary information to prosecutors, defenders, and judges who, objectively and impartially, will determine the correct resolution of both cases.

We should not forget that criminal trials turned train wrecks are not the province of the Tercer Mundo.  Who can forget the O.J. Simpson trial, where the overly exposed information about the case being investigated, added to the incorrect manipulation of the evidences by forensic experts, ended up disesteeming the proofs against the main suspect, bringing as a result the crime remains until these days with no one declared guilty.

That is why, as a firm committed with the truth, science, and society, our message is for all the participants in these penal investigation processes, both in Chile and Argentina, keep a clear mental focus in doing their job following the proper protocols, thus provide the tranquility that the victims, their families, and the society need.

evidencebagOn the other side, at the beginning of this month, it was know Lucia Perez’s (16) story, a young Argentinian woman that was drugged, raped, and assassinated in Mar del Plata. According to information given by the Argentinian authorities, the crime’s suspects would have taken Lucia, allegedly, to one of this suspects’ house where she was drugged with high cocaine and marihuana doses, and then sexually abused. When the suspects would have noticed that the teenager was dead, they would have washed the body, changed her clothes, and then they would have taken her to a hospital saying the doctors that she was under an overdoses. Emergency personnel tried to revive her but she was already dead.

The case’s prosecutor, Maria Isabel Sánchez, released to the media the autopsy report, which established that a heart attack provoked by a hard object introduced anally would have been the death’s cause.

Even though the events, both in Chile and Argentina, have shocked the female community primarily, which it has been reflected in several public manifestations carried out in different cities of latinamerica, it is essential to emphasize that these collective opinions should no become a means of distraction for the actors involved in the penal process. All together, investigators, lawyers, and judges should remember that the investigative labor should be kept isolated from the social environment to avoid falling in a “media vice” that could eventually induce to errors or misinterpretations of the evidences that finally carry the process to a wrong verdict.

Forensic scientists should be focused in finding, analyzing, and properly report the evidences to give the necessary information to prosecutors, defenders, and judges who, objectively and impartially, will determine the correct resolution of both cases and then, give the correspondent penal punishment to the authors of these crimes.

We should not forget that shocking cases have already happened even in developed countries, where media shock has hinder the normal course of the investigation generating unexpected results. How to forget the O.J. Simpson (Los Angeles, EE.UU.) where the overly exposed information about the case being investigated, added to the incorrect manipulation of the evidences by forensic experts, ended up disesteeming the proofs against the main suspect, bringing as a result the crime remains until these days with no one declared guilty.

That is why, as a firm committed with the truth, science, and society, our message is for all the participants in these penal investigation processes, both in Chile and Argentina, keep a clear mental focus in doing their job following the proper protocols, thus provide the tranquility that the victims, their families, and the society need.

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, OMSI and Eastern Kentucky University.

Ana Acuna and her husband, Carlos Gutierrez are the founders of True Forensic Science, a firm that specializes in consulting, training and seminars. They can be reached at ana.ac@yahoo.com

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