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Posted: August 10, 2016

St. Johns County investigators recreate crime scenes with specialized scanner


News | WFOX

A cutting-edge tool is helping the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office solve crimes.

It's a story you will only see on Action News Jax. Investigators are now able to create a digital replica of crime scenes using a Leica scanner.

A laser takes millions of measurements at the crime scene. That information can then be used to check witness or suspect testimony and later on during court cases.

When major crimes happen in St. Johns County, capturing every detail is key. That's where the high-precision scanner comes in.

“It’s putting out that laser, it’s getting a 360 degree view of the entire area,” said crime scene technician Stefanie Elliott.

Laser measurements combined with a camera allow investigators to document every inch of the scene.

“This way, we have absolutely everything we could possibly to be able to reconstruct the scene,” Elliott said.

Once every part of the scene is covered, the information is turned into a 3D model that allows investigators to actually walk through the scene long after the crime.

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“We’ll insert a camera with a height and let’s say they were 5’5,” Elliott said.

The tool provides the ability to verify what officers, suspects and even witnesses saw.

“That can kind of show whether or not that person could have seen what they’re saying they saw,” Elliott said.

A useful tool for solving crimes and later if the case goes to court.

“What this enables us to do is to take to those jurors the scene without having to recreate it in the real world. We can actually fly through if you will and show them what that scene looked like to the investigators and what was found that night,” Mulligan said.

The Sheriff's Office got its Leica Scanner in 2013. It was paid for by using forfeiture funds.

The scanner is most often used on homicide, traffic homicide, and officer involved shooting cases.

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