Volume 46, Issue 2 (March 2001)
A Shot Through the Window
At issue in this case was whether an unusual window defect seen in two of the crime scene photographs was due to a bullet and if so, if that same bullet fatally wounded the victim. The window appeared to have been cracked prior to the apparent shot through it. A .22 bullet recovered from autopsy, when examined only by light microscopy, failed to show associated glass fragments.
A previously cracked test window was shot a number of times with .22 caliber bullets near the cracks in an effort to simulate the window defect seen in the crime scene photographs. Several of the defects produced by the test window shots appeared similar to the crime scene window defect.
The .22 bullet taken from the victim and several of the test bullets (collected by a cotton box) were examined by scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The test bullets showed glass particles on and embedded in their surfaces. Particles of similar size and composition were found embedded in the surface of the bullet from the victim. The bullet likely struck the window prior to hitting the victim.
It was apparent by the morphology of some of the mushroomed test .22 bullets that they hit the window crack. These bullets showed that the glass on one side of a crack often fails before the other side during the strike. Aggregations of powdered glass on many of the mushroomed surfaces of the .22 bullets suggest that as the bullet mushrooms during impact on the window surface, the glass in contact with the bullet powderizes and coats the mushroomed surface of the bullet with a layer of fine glass particles.