1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Can I make this forensic scenario convincing?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, May 13, 2015.

    For a screenplay idea, I wanted write a murder where the police investigate it and conclude that the evidence was planted. Basically supposed killer suspect is framed, and the police catch on. Therefore since it's concluded that he was framed, no charges are laid against him.

    However, I got some negative feedback from readers, and they said that they found it unconvincing that the police could tell it was a frame. Basically the framer got the suspect he wanted to frame, at gunpoint, to spit on the dead body, and bleed on it. Leave hair, things like that.

    But the cops are able to tell by going over the crime scene, that the physical evidence was planted after, and possibly by someone forcing them to do it. Now I did not go into great detail on this in the forensic experts dialogue explanation of it. Perhaps that's the problem.

    I am not sure how to go about this one though. I bought the book Forensics, for writers, by D.P. Lyle, but so far I don't think it's been the best help. It can you a lot of things, but not how to identify a frame particularly. Any ideas on how I could approach this one?

    Thanks for the input :).
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure how directly applicable this is, but:

    In an episode of Silk, the defendant claims (self-defence) that the dead man was trying to kill him with a golf club.

    The wife claims that she hasn't touched her husband's golf clubs since he was killed.

    Her fingerprints are on the golf club. "Oh, I must have tidied them away sometime in the past."

    Her husband's blood is on the club. "Oh, it must have splashed there when he was being killed."

    Her fingerprints are on top of the blood.

    Ergo, she must have touched the club since he was killed, when she was replacing it in the golf bag to refute the defendant's claim of self-defence.

    It's the little things in forensics.

    However, the problem I have with "the police could see it was a frame-up so won't prosecute" is: Why would they? Too often you hear the suggestion that the police are so eager to get a conviction that they fit up an "obvious" suspect. Why would they look hard enough at the evidence to reveal the frame? They'd take the obvious suspect with the obvious forensic evidence, get their conviction, and move on. Got to keep those crimes solved figures up!
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I can't answer your question directly, but maybe I can help. May I recommend this book?
    Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime
    by Val McDermid

    Val McDermid is a best-selling author of well-respected crime novels (and the author of Wire in the Blood, which spawned the TV series), and this is a non-fiction book she just produced. She was invited to write the book, which is a history of forensics that brings the science up to date. This is not a dry, dull book AT ALL, but produced by a crime writer FOR other people who also write crime books. It shows how forensics gets used to achieve convictions in criminal cases.

    As you can expect, it looks like a fun read, with Val's sense of humour in abundance, and is intended to be readable as well as informative. I just saw her at the Ullapool Book Festival, and she discussed this book as well as her other fiction. I took a gander through it while I was there. I didn't buy it because my suitcase was already full, and also because I don't do crime writing. But all the same ...I think I will buy it next time I'm up there (next month.) It looks very worthwhile.
     
  4. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks, I will check the book out! Well as far as wanting to get a conviction and move on, in my script the deceased is also a cop. So it makes me wonder, what I can do to make it so that the prosecutor will be convinced it's a frame and will not prosecute.
     
  5. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    Hi just seen this post now. I'll try and help you out in any way I can ( I'm studying forensics at uni) I know a bit about evidence types, analysis and prosecution procedures. Do the police find any evidence other than that belonging to the framed Character? Can you give me a list of what evidence they collect and I'll try and help you make it fit.
     
  6. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    i can see a few approaches you could take.

    A: The police (detective or whatever) feel the scene is too convenient, suggestions of "Something doesn't quite feel right here John. We have hair, blood, spit, a footprint, When are we ever this lucky?" Create a sense of actual police work, have the detective or whomever bounce ideas off their partner and become suspicious. If you have a dead body then the police aren't going to dismiss their number one suspect due to TOO MUCH evidence. Have them investigate, even arrest the suspect (if they're free and not with the 'framer', have them question them and then decide to let them go and maybe tail em just to be sure. Can you imagine the uproar if police had all that evidence but didn't properly investigate, and let a potential killer go), get his or her version of events. Go back to the crime scene maybe, find a second unexplainable trace of evidence that doesnt fit the scene maybe.

    B: Have actual evidence prove them innocent, or at least suggest doubt. This could tie into them not being charged, a jury would let them go etc etc. Something like the blood splatter isnt consistent with the way the murder occurred, the blood smears are in the wrong places, the hair that has been pulled during the struggle is on the floor next to the body but no traces are under the nails. Stuff like that. Deliberate actions are easy to identify in most cases.
     
  7. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    I agree with Lae. They would be obliged to investigate the framed person as their prime suspect. I'm guessing that the best indication of foul play would be if they found some evidence to suggest that someone else had been at the scene (footprints/hairs/fibres that don't match the suspect). Initially though the only way the framed suspect would get out of custody is if they were bailed, probably conditionally. The suspects "I was framed" alibi would be investigated and the CSIs would look for evidence to support this (as Lae suggested above...inconsistent blood spatter for example). It wouldn't be as simple as just releasing him upon finding contradictory evidence. If it was a real case I doubt it wouldn't make it to court, but you could make it so the defence argument is so strong that the jury find him not guilty.
     
  8. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. You all make very good points. It's just that the script, I feel is already too long. I was hoping to wrap up this section of the plot in two scenes. First scene is the guy planting the evidence of the suspect on the dead body, the second scene is the cops arguing about how he wasn't charged and nothing was done. If I cannot wrap this up in two scenes, I feel that it will become too long. Perhaps a different approach is needed.

    Plus earlier the script the killer goes to court and gets off for a different crime. If I have him go to court and get off twice, wouldn't that come off as repetitive? This is why I want him to not be charged for the second crime, because then it doesn't go to court and it's not as repetitive.

    Well the man who is murdered in my script is friend's with the main cop. The goal of the plot is to have the cop be outraged that his friend is killed and he wants revenge. That is why I wanted to the crook to get off, even though there was evidence planted. However, what if I just wrote it so that he got off cause no one framed him and there wasn't enough evidence to tie him to the killing in the first place. Should I write it like that? Or is it more convincing if there was evidence, and the killer gets off in order to give the cop more convincing outrage?
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
  9. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    That would perhaps be easier to do. Although the guy would have to be very meticulous so as not to leave any trace of himself at the crime scene. The best way to write it if you wanted to include evidence would maybes be to introduce doubt in the way the forensics team analysed it or perhaps suggest possible contamination (for example the same officer may have transported the suspect and the evidence to the police station in his car). Shoddy forensic work can lose a case so that may be a road to take. The police could know it was the suspect, but he gets off on a technicality perhaps.
     
  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't need to take him to court the second time (do you even need to show the courtroom scene the first time?) - just have the cop swearing down the 'phone that "that bastard's got away with it again. Somebody screwed up on the forensics and the guy walked, and now he's just laughing at us!"
     
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  11. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    You answered your own question there. It is not the scene concept that is turning your readers off, it is your explanation for how the cops discovered that the evidence was planted that is causing them to feel that it lacks realism. The things you always need to eventually explain in your mystery writing is who, what, where, why, and how. Right now for this situation you have

    Who - the cops
    What - figured out the evidence was planted and the case is a frame job
    Where - The scene of the crime
    Why - because the cop's jobs are to solve the crime, and they felt that their prime suspect seemed wrong.
    how - ???

    Sadly, the "how" is the most important part of and murder or mystery story...how do i know this? because shows like CSI, CSI Miami, CSI NY, CSI Sibera (you get the idea) are all based on this formula

    What - (this told to the audience in the first 5 mins of the show)
    Where - (this is also told in the first 5 mins of the show)
    Who - (revealed final 3-5 mins of the show, normally the big gotcha moment)
    Why - (revealed final 5-8 minutes of the show, normally comes right before the gotcha and connects the killer to the crime)
    how - (everything that the CSI team does after the first 5 minutes, until the final 5 minutes. So 50 mins of 1 hour of programming is dedicated to discussing and dissecting the "how").

    put the work into your "how" and i assure you that the situation will instantly become much more believable.
     
  12. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. It's just you watch all these crime documentaries, and the cops are so good, that you think that maybe they could tell if evidence was planted by the average joe or not. The villain is the guilty one in my script, it's just he is framed, which is how I planned for him to get away with it. He got off on planted evidence. However, in order to be framed for it, first he is going to have to not leave evidence of his own at the scene to begin with.

    In the story, it's not a meticulously planned murder. Someone finds out too much about the villains crimes, and takes off running. The villain goes after him and kills him top stop him from being a witness. So the murder is actually a spur the moment act of desperation without hardly any time to plan really.

    But some movies like The Town for example, have this. The bank robbers end up having to shoot armored car guards while they rob the armored car. They then drive away, and torch their vehicles. That was enough to get away with murder apparently and it was a spur the moment unplanned killing. The movie Heat also did the same thing with armored car guards. In both stories, the cops did not have enough evidence and they pretty much had to wait for evidence from OTHER crimes to come in, before they were able to make a connection to the murder.
     

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