Blood-spatter expert Sutton returns for forensic s...

Blood-spatter expert Sutton returns for forensic science lecture

Blood splashing against a wall or on the ground is split-second TV shorthand for a gruesome killing. Real-life forensic experts can begin deducing the facts behind a death with a glance at the blood staining an actual crime scene.

Paulette Sutton, internationally renowned blood spatter expert from Obion, Tennessee, and two-time guest speaker for the William M. Bass Legends in Forensic Science Lectureship at MTSU.

Paulette Sutton

But Paulette Sutton, an internationally renowned blood spatter expert from Obion, Tennessee, knows that initial findings can deceive even the most experienced forensic scientists. She’s returning to MTSU Tuesday, March 19, to discuss one of those cases in “Murder in the Mountains … or Was It Really Suicide?”

Sutton, whose expertise has played a role in trials ranging from James Byrd Jr.’s Texas dragging death to music legend Phil Spector’s murder trial, will speak at 6:30 p.m. March 19 in the second-floor ballroom of the Student Union, Room 250.

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She is the spring 2019 guest of MTSU’s William M. Bass Legends in Forensic Science Lectureship seriesHer first visit to the MTSU series was in April 2013.

This spring’s free public lecture involves an unusual case of murder versus suicide from the perspective of the bloodstain pattern analyst and other disciplines involved in the case.

“This definitely isn’t an episode of ‘Law and Order,’” lecture organizers have said.

Sutton retired in 2006 from the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office and the University of Memphis after a 29-year career as director of investigations and assistant director of forensic services for the university’s Division of Forensic Pathology.

Blood spatter expert Paulette Sutton will speak at MTSU Tuesday, March 19, in a free public lecture in the Student Union Ballroom.She’s since been a private consultant on the training and lecture circuit, teaching bloodstain pattern analysis and working with all levels of the U.S. criminal justice system. She’s also an expert in crime scene reconstruction and forensic serology, which detects and classifies body fluids and how they relate to a crime scene.

Sutton, a recipient of an Outstanding Service Award from the FBI, is one of only six people in the world certified as a “Competent Forensic Expert in Bloodstain Pattern Interpretation” by the Institute on the Physical Significance of Human Bloodstain Evidence.

Forensic Institute for Research and Education (FIRE) logoMTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, also known as FIRE, is sponsoring Sutton’s lecture. The Bass Lecture Series, named for renowned University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass, brings forensic-science experts to MTSU each fall and spring.

FIRE’s co-sponsors for Sutton’s lecture are the MTSU Distinguished Lecture Committee, the Middle Tennessee Forensic Science Society, College of Liberal Arts, Office of the University Provost, Department of Criminal Justice Administration and Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

For more information on the March 19 lecture, please contact the FIRE offices at 615-494-7713 or visit

— Gina E. Fann (