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State v. Swinton

847 A.2d 921 (2004)

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State v. Swinton

Connecticut Supreme Court

847 A.2d 921 (2004)

Facts

Alfred Swinton (defendant) was charged with murder. At the trial, the state (plaintiff) introduced photographs of a bite mark on the victim’s body that were enhanced using a computer software program called Lucis. The computer-enhanced photographs were produced by Major Timothy Palmbach, who worked in the state’s department of public safety. Palmbach explained that he used the Lucis program to increase the image detail of the bite mark. Although the original photographs contained many layers of contrast, the human eye could perceive only a limited number of contrast layers. After digitizing the original photographs, Palmbach used the Lucis program to select a particular range of contrast. By narrowing this range, certain contrast layers in the photographs were diminished, thereby heightening the visual appearance of the bite mark. Palmbach clarified that the Lucis program did not delete any contrast layers; rather, the contrast layers that fell outside of the selected range were merely diminished. Indeed, nothing was removed from the original photographs by the enhancement process. Palmbach also testified that the Lucis program was relied upon by experts in the field of forensic science. The trial-court judge found that the computer-enhanced photographs were authenticated. Because the photographs satisfied the other requirements for admissibility, the trial-court judge admitted the photographs. Subsequently, the jury convicted Swinton. Swinton appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Katz, J.)

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