Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kevin Neal, Convicted of Murder by Forensic Entomology

Cheese Skippers for the Defense

As for the cheese skippers, Hall disputed Haskell's conclusions there, as well. Pointing out that his research showed that skippers are only known to be "not among the first arrivers," Hall added, "How much later it arrives is open to question. There are no discrete data that would allow one to say categorically it's going to require seven days or 14 days or three days. It's simply too variable. I am unable to support the conclusion that there would be a 45-to-90 day period," he said.

Well, what, if any, conclusion can a forensic entomologist draw from the presence of cheese skippers? Tripplett asked.

"Other than to say that the cheese skipper would not be among the first insects to arrive, I can't produce any entomological conclusions that I would find useful from the cheese skipper in this case," Hall concluded.

On cross-examination, Prosecutor Selvaggio addressed Hall's rejection of the serial wave theory of insect propagation.

"Isn't it true that within the last four years ... you and Dr. Haskell authored a chapter entitled "On the Body: Insects' Life, Stage, Presence and their Post-Mortem Artifacts" and in it you indicate that two main approaches exist? One is the analysis of the pattern of corpse colonization by successive waves of arthropods?"

"That's correct," Hall said.

"So when Dr. Haskell is looking at this, this wave of colonization from black blow fly to cheese skippers to black soldier fly, he's not doing anything that your own literature, that you and he co-authored, promotes?"

"I think you mischaracterize my response," Hall countered. "I said in this particular case, I couldn't find any compelling evidence to be able to apply it that specifically."


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