skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 203747 Find in a Library
Title: Investigating and Trying a Homicide Case
Author(s): Andrea D. Lyon
Date Published: 1998
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: DePaul University
Chicago, IL 60614
Sale Source: DePaul University
Law School
2322 North Kenmore
Chicago, IL 60614
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Guideline
Format: Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This document discusses the factual, expert, and legal investigation necessary to prepare to try a homicide case.
Abstract: The first difference between a homicide case and other cases is that the victim of the crime isn’t there at trial. It is very difficult to win an acquittal in a homicide case because the jury feels the need to make reparations of the family of the deceased. Part of the job in defending a homicide case is to recognize and prepare for the emotional reactions of the jury, judge, and prosecutors to the case. Homicides also differ from other cases because of the media interest that often accompanies them. There must be a strategy for dealing with the media. A homicide has enormous pressure to “get” a confession. The easiest and most logical place to begin is to make an index of every person to be interviewed and to prioritize that list. The evidence should be listed in order from the best for the prosecution to the worst for the prosecution. In addition to requiring thorough interviews and investigation, cases that will involve testimony from many witnesses create a need for careful organization. A witness index should be created. A chart should be made of the exhibits at trial. Careful crime scene investigation is a critical part of any affirmative defense strategy. A visit to the crime scene is important from a fact gathering sense as well as from an advocacy perspective. Another important part of the job as investigator is to understand and evaluate the work that has already been done by the police. Also a big part of the investigation is discovering the background of the deceased. In a self-defense case, the deceased’s violent criminal history may be admissible and is of interest for trial preparation as well as potential negotiation. It is highly recommended to hire an expert whenever forensic evidence is central to the case. Time of death can also be of importance in a case. While it is not possible to tell from forensic evidence alone the exact time of death, certain things can be determined from the body. 52 footnotes
Main Term(s): Homicide investigations; Investigative techniques
Index Term(s): Criminal investigation; Death investigations; Defense preparation; Homicide; Murder; Trial preparation
Note: Downloaded January 9, 2004.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.