Berks County's Forensic Unit is reshaping the way investigators solve crimes.
They're now using 3D gaming technology to reconstruct and virtually "walk-through" crime scenes.
Detective Albert Schade is a forensic evidence technician for the Berks County District Attorney's Office. He is the brains behind the 3D crime scene reconstruction tool that brings measurements, blood splatter and trajectory of projectiles to life.
Schade developed the program using a free online gaming software called SketchUp. It was after years of testifying in court that he realized the evidence he was showcasing would be easier for jurors to visualize through 3D.
"I had to find an answer to my problems. And my problem was how can I show a jury all this information that I am collecting and have it make sense," said Schade.
Schade worked on this tool for years. This past November, his research was published in the Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction journal. Schade stated that so far, Berks County's Forensic Unit is the first in the nation to use this software in its investigations.
"I've had over 200 downloads of this information I'm providing for free to law enforcement through LEO which is an FBI website," said Schade.
This interactive software can even pinpoint evidence markers. When clicking on the markers, a picture of the actual evidence appears. District Attorney John Adams stated this tool is crucial and will benefit them greatly.
"It will be something that will enhance the investigation and prosecution of a case," said Adams.
The district attorney's office has used this tool in four cases so far. In two cases, Adams said, the suspects pleaded guilty without going to court because of the 3D evidence presented. The other two cases are homicides, scheduled for trial in the near future.
"I'm glad that I could help my community and help other law enforcement agencies," said Schade.