NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A new crime-fighting weapon can identify and even save victims of abuse, exposing evidence that is not visible to the naked eye and helping put abusers behind bars.
As CBS 2’s Maurice Dubois reported, the technology could change the handling of cases such as that of Mary Calderone, 38, who was in an abusive marriage.
“He held me down and used his forearm across my throat,” she said. “So when you looked in the mirror, you couldn’t see anything.”
Calderone said her husband beat and even choked her, but she had no physical evidence.
“My throat was sore and it was hard to swallow, but there was nothing visible,” she said.
But now, in a scene right out of CSI, there’s a device that could change everything. It is called the alternative light source, or ALS.
Bruises that were once nearly impossible to see are exposed, and can be marked as evidence to help put domestic abusers behind bars.
“It could be the difference of whether a batterer is caught the first time, or whether they end up actually killing somebody,” Calderone said.
In groundbreaking research, forensic nurses discovered that bruising normally invisible to the naked eye suddenly appeared when they shined the alternative light source on the victim’s skin.
“We shine this light, and all of a sudden, you can see the lines where the fingers were,” said Debra Holbrook, a forensic nurse at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore. “You can see the fingerprints where the pressure points were. You can see the slap marks. You can see things you never could have seen before.”
Photos showed the detail revealed by the light. A red mark from a belt turned into a detailed imprint.
“What the ALS technology does is allows you to see it, even if the naked eye can’t see it, and then it becomes a great piece of evidence and a tool that we can use,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein.
Abuse cases can be tough to prosecute without clear physical evidence, but photos under ALS lights can make it easier for prosecutors to charge, convict and put away abusers.
“It’s not about whether he said something or she said something. It’s just evidence,” Calderone said. “That evidence could be the difference between whether kids have their mother, between whether a mother has her daughter, between whether you live or whether you die.”
And as proof of the success of the new device, hospitals around the country are expanding their use of ALS for domestic violence cases.
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