InternshipSenior Taylor Robinson got a firsthand look at crime scene investigations during her internship at the Montgomery County Crime Lab.
“The Property and Evidence Room is probably the most important part of CSI because they hold all the evidence,” said Robinson.
The Montgomery County Identification Section – Crime Lab collects and examines forensic evidence in criminal cases, including blood spatter, fingerprints, trace evidence, and ballistics evidence. Investigators process crimes scenes and collect evidence, which is stored in a secure facility.
Robinson helped with the “gray sheets,” the documents used to keep track of eight rooms of evidence stored in a secure facility. Those crucial documents included key information about cases under investigation and provided information on where evidence is stored. The information is stored both digitally and in a hard copy.
“It was a lot of clerical work, but you have to be very, very organized and detailed in entering evidence,” Robinson said.
In Montgomery County, there is a room dedicated to drug cases, including police videos of arrests. Another room is reserved for weapons offenses. Sexual assaults cases are stored in the basement, and a cooler houses toxicology samples that are sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety Lab for testing. There is also a Property Room, where shelves were lined with large items, like computers and case boxes.
While most of her internship was spent in the Property and Evidence Room, Robinson witnessed CSI in action when she accompanied investigators to several death investigations, including suicides and a baby death. She witnessed how a crime scene is meticulously processed and documented, starting with photos from the outside or overall area and working down to minute pieces of evidence, such as a bullet fragment. The same process is used in suspected suicides, where evidence continues to be held for two years in case the findings are challenged.
“It was a new experience,” said Robinson. “It is different to see a dead body in a house where there is a gun and blood. You have to have a tough stomach, and you can’t have a lot of emotion at the crime scene.”
Robinson attended the autopsy in one of the cases, where Medical Examiner Sparks Veasey, who is a faculty member at the College of Criminal Justice, documented every step in the process with photographs. Each organ was weighed and documented, with samples taken for toxicology. Wounds were examined closely to determine the entry and exit paths of the bullet, and fragments were removed for evidence. Clothing and personal items were collected as evidence or to send back to the family.
“It was like you see on TV, but this was real life,” said Robinson. “They found the exit wound and measured the width. They are always taking pictures to make sure everything is documented.”
Robinson said she would like to become a crime scene investigator and that Sam Houston State University and the internship helped prepare her for that career path.