Fingerprint recovered from a coin helps lead to arrest - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Fingerprint recovered from a coin helps lead to the arrest of an armed robbery suspect

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For a police officer, the ability to write a proper citation is as important as being able to foil a bank robbery in progress. Doing what is often perceived as less important parts of the job, and doing them well, is just as important as being able to handle the exciting and glamorous aspects of police work.
 
The officer's attention to detail is important at all levels of law enforcement no matter what they do. From issuing a parking ticket to recording the minute details in a felony investigation, the specific details are very important. It was that attention to detail by Detective Dan English, Latent Print Examiner Nada Kerstein and Latent Recovery Specialist Mary Phillips that led to the recent arrest of an armed robbery suspect.
 
On May 27, 2013 at about 4:00 a.m., a man robbed the Sunoco at 1984 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard with a broken champagne bottle. Initially, the man entered the business and tried to purchase a can of beer. However, when the clerk asked him for his ID, he said he didn't have it with him. So, he left the store and came back about 20 minutes later to purchase the beer. He placed a Preferred Customer Debit Card and several coins on the counter to pay for the beer. The clerk then noticed the suspect was hiding a bottle of champagne behind his right leg.  The suspect bent over and broke the bottle on the floor. He held on to the neck of the bottle, pointed the sharp edge at her and demanded money from the cash register. She handed him the money and the suspect fled the store.
 
Detective English arrived on scene and took custody of the debit card and coins. The debit card didn't have a name on it. A search warrant revealed the debit card belonged to St. Julian Ronald Smalls, 44, of Martin Luther King Boulevard.
 
The coins were given to Ms. Phillips to determine if any evidence could be collected from them.
The process to reveal admissible evidence is as follows:
  • The first step was a visual examination which didn't reveal anything
  • The next step was to use a cyanoacrylate (super glue) chamber and expose the object to the super glue fumes. After the glue had time to harden, she processed the coins with fingerprint powder. She used traditional black latent powder in this case.
  • A finger print was then collected from a quarter using Polyvinylsiloxane, which is like a putty material that gets into all the crevices and works better for more textured surfaces.
The recovered fingerprint was compared by Ms. Kerstein to the known prints of St. Julian Ronald Smalls.
 
A fingerprint recovered from a quarter matched the left index finger of Smalls. He was arrested and charged with armed robbery.
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