Since cranial gunshot analysis is an essential part of the forensic anthropologist's toolkit, this study tested whether entrance and exit wound diameters can be used to estimate bullet construction.
A sample of 45 donated human heads obtained from an anatomical supply company were placed on a stand designed to simulate the height of an adult male, and they were shot using a 0.38 caliber revolver from a distance of 3 yards. The shot locations were either through the frontal bone or through the temporal and/or parietal bones, and the bullet constructions were full metal jacket and jacketed hollow point. Full metal jacket ammunition is designed to exit the body while jacketed hollow points are designed to expand and therefore not exit. The two variables (shot location and bullet construction) were distributed randomly yet evenly throughout the sample. After being shot, the specimens were autopsied and processed using standard maceration methods. Diameters of the entrance and exit wounds were measured using digital sliding calipers and rounded to the nearest tenth of a millimeter. These data were then subjected to independent sample t-tests with significance set at p=.05. Results revealed a significant difference in entrance wound diameters (p=.002), but not exit wounds (p=.188), indicating that bullet construction has a significant impact on the diameter of entrance wounds, but not exit wounds. This has implications for the ability to interpret ballistic trauma and highlights the potentially more diagnostic nature of the entrance wound for making interpretations about bullet construction. (publisher abstract modified)
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: January 1, 2019