csi for a day

Thanks to LAVA and my good friend Lory, last Sunday I spent the day at LA’s regional crime laboratory on the Cal State LA campus. I was lucky enough to tour the facilities, participate in a workshop and partake in two lectures.

The first presentation was lead by Michael I. Kelley, Adjunct Professor and a Firearm and Toolmark Examiner with the Scientific Investigation Devision of the LAPD. Kelley, an ex-Army Ranger himself, presented a lecture on the investigation of the 2004 death of Army Ranger Patrick Tillman. In 2006, exactly two years after Tillman was killed, Mr. Kelley lead a team of investigators to Afghanistan where they reconstructed the circumstances surrounding Tillman’s death and conducted further investigation.

Associate Professor Donald Johnson presented the second lecture on the 1996 Industry Hills Sheraton incident. Twenty-seven year old Houston native Sandra Orellana was tragically killed when she fell eight stories from a hotel balcony. Authorities suspected she was murdered by her boss with whom she was on a business trip. Professor Johnson deconstructed the evidence surrounding Orellana’s mysterious death and shared his experiences working as an investigator on the case.