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Disgruntled juror's experience inspires new way to develop crime scene photos

(WHAM photo)

Victor, N.Y. – Patrick St. Clair of Henrietta has been a passionate photographer for 60 years. His experience as a juror led to him to help develop a new way to present crime and crash scenes photos to juries.

St. Clair says it all began with a grade school fundraiser.

“I didn’t win,” he said. “I got second place. Second place was camera. And that’s how it started.”

Four years later, Apple launched its first 360-degree camera St. Clair designed his own, taking apart four Sony cameras and putting them in a box.

"I’ve used it a lot, but it's hard to use,” he said. “It wouldn't be a good fast-seller. But it provided the knowledge and background on how to blend multiple cameras into instant shot panoramas."

His motivation? Being a disgruntled juror on murder trial.

"That was a bitter experience," he recalled. "I didn't like what we had to do with little bit of information, and I thought I could do better than that."

St. Clair spoke with a police friend to modify his concept and make it easier for technicians to use at crime scenes.

Eight years later, he brought a prototype to the president of L-Tron Corporation to improve his concept.

"It's like a relay race,” he said. “I did my little part, and L-Tron is running full-gun right now."

The company developed 360-degree imaging software called “OSCR."

"A great product,” said Robert Derose, president of L-Tron Corporation. "To create this presentation so people can walk through and understand a story in a much easier fashion than just talking about it."

The camera is about the height of an average person’s hand. It’s attached to a GPS sensor. This sits atop a tripod. The software is in a corresponding tablet, which fires the camera to capture the image and stores it. It takes about four seconds, and you can see the entire room.

"On several occasions, we've literally handed the tablet and a tripod to an evidence technician, and they've just gone and taken the pictures with literally no training whatsoever," said DeRose.

OSCR Tablet and camera pairing generates the 360 photos. There’s desktop software as well.

“[To] build a presentation… a story, which enables the investigator or the prosecutor to attach any digital file,” said DeRose. “So it could be video file; it could be surveillance video showing a car go by or a suspect walking by. We can attach digital photographs, sketchings.”

The technology has been used in 20 active crime scenes since its launch last summer. Those include the Rideout and Maiden Lane murder trials and a deadly attempted robbery on Ludwig Park.

"Their job is telling a story to the jury,” said St. Clair. “This tells a story that you can't dispute. You look at it and it's the truth of the scene."

L-Tron hopes to sell the product to the real estate industry next. The cost of kits that law enforcement - such as the Town of Brighton - use is just under $5,000. The desktop software, that prosecutors use, is the same price.

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