Volume 49, Issue 2 (March 2004)
Expert Testimony and Positive Identification of Human Remains Through Cranial Suture Patterns
North American forensic anthropological research should conform to the Daubert criteria (U.S.A.) and Mohan ruling (Canada) to ensure admissibility in a court of law. Positive identification through radiographic comparison of antemortem and postmortem cranial suture patterns was evaluated in light of these criteria. The technique is based on reliable principles, but problems with terminology and the resolution of radiographs make SekharanÂ's method difficult to apply. Using the location, length, and slope of a sutureÂ's component lines, rather than SekharanÂ's descriptions of sutural configurations, it is possible to determine the probability of a particular suture pattern occurring in more than one individual. A match of four consecutive lines is sufficient to establish positive identification. This approach meets the Daubert and Mohan criteria, although resolution of radiographs is still a major limitation. Computed tomography (CT) scans may prove a more useful modality for positive identification, due to better resolution and greater availability.