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About the Author

Michael V. Martinez is a Forensic Scientist Supervisor in charge of the Trace Evidence Section for the Bexar County Criminal Investigation Laboratory located in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Martinez has earned a Masters of Science Degree in Forensic Science (MSFS) as well as an extensively impressive array of specialized training achieved throughout his successful career in the field of Forensics (view certificates).

Mr. Martinez presides as president and founder of the International Association for Microanalysis (IAMA), co-chairman for the Scientific Working Group for Primer Gunshot Residue (SWGGSR), distinguished member in good standing and former the board of directors for the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (SWAFS), has served on the education and training committee and vendor co-chair for the Technical Working Group for Fire and Explosives (TWGFEX), and is credited for developing the first Texas state accredited academic associates degree program in Forensic Science for San Antonio College (SAC).

Volunteer Experience

In addition, Mr. Martinez has also contributed extensively to the volunteer community. His experience would include serving as a Crisis Center suicide prevention counselor (1995-1996), American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (1984), American Red Cross Health and Safety Instructor (1991-1997), American Red Cross Disaster Service specialized technician and instructor (1993-2004) and American Red Cross CPR and First Aide Instructor Trainer (2000-2005).

Additional Information:

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

Among the advanced instrumentation used at the Bexar County Crime Lab is the JEOL 5800 and JEOL 6480 scanning electron microscopes equipped with an Oxford ISIS system Silicon-Lithium (SiLi) energy dispersive x-ray detectors (EDX). These instruments are used to detect microscopic primer gunshot residue particles, inorganic explosives material, glass, hairs, paint, occationally used for forensic odontology samples and a myriad of other forensic evidence submitted to the crime lab.

Crime Laboratory

Pictured below is the Bexar County Forensic Science Center Building, located on the northwest side of San Antonio on the campus of the University of Texas Health Science Center. The Criminal Investigation Laboratory is housed within the Forensic Science Center and consists of the following sections: Trace Evidence, Serology/DNA, Firearms and Toolmarks, and Drug Identification. The Forensic Science Center also includes the Medical Examiners Office-Morgue, Toxicology, and Texas Poison Control.

A Brief History of Forensics

Pronounced: fo·ren·sic; (f'-rén-sik) Derived from the Latin word forensis or public, of a forum.

The term Forensic(s) has become a familiar word in the English language. When used as a noun, it is commonly associated in the collegiate arena to represent a public debate. Although, when used as an adjective with the sciences, it's colloquial use most frequently reflects its role in legal proceedings.

According to Marian-Webster, the first published origin of the word was in 1659. However, the history of forensic science can be traced far beyond. The exact origins of forensic science or medico-legal medicine can be traced back to ancient times. But the exact geographic location or scientific discipline for which forensics originated has been a topic of debate for many years. Historical scholars often look to China where the only known text dedicated to forensic medicine was discovered. The book was called Ming Yuen Shih Lu by Chich-ts'si and was published around the 6th century A.D.

The impact of forensic science on society and its evolution in the United States has a little more recent heritage. In fact, the modern medical-legal approach to criminal investigations in the United States originated from 12th century England when as king, Richard the 1st enacted the "Office of the Coroner".

As the population increased, so did crime and soon it became evident that an appointed person of advanced medical knowledge was needed, a physician. The first to implement this plan was Massachusetts who in 1877 adopted a statewide system requiring that the coroners office be replaced by the "Office of the Medical Examiner". Many states eventually followed suite.

As time progressed, so did technology. Much of the world's contribution in understanding criminal behavior through science became more readily accessible. It wasn't long before many law enforcement agencies began processing crime scene information previously overlooked by the medical examiner. This specialized breed of law enforcement personnel became known as forensic scientist or criminalist-(a highly educated and skilled individual proficient in the application of scientific techniques in collecting and analyzing physical evidence in criminal cases). The modern role of law enforcement and its blending with science eventually evolved into a discipline all its own. Some have created the pioneer works of Paul Kirk in emphasizing the importance of a skilled criminalist in assisting with a criminal investigation.

- A Brief History of Forensic Science