Got blood? Forensic science lecturer Sutton knows ...

Got blood? Forensic science lecturer Sutton knows all about it

Criminal procedure TV shows have made us all armchair forensic pathologists, chattering about bullet trajectories and blood spatter and black-light revelations like “experts.”

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Paulette Sutton is the real deal.

And she’ll be at MTSU on Thursday, April 18, for a free public lecture, “The Priest, the Nun and Forensic Science,” on some of the cases she’s seen and the physics of how blood behaves outside the human body.

Sutton, an internationally renowned blood spatter expert from Obion, Tenn., 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, is the spring 2013 speaker for MTSU’s William M. Bass Legends in Forensic Science Lectureship.

She will speak at 6:30 p.m. in the second-floor ballroom of the new Student Union on the east side of campus.

Sutton retired in 2006 from the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office and the University of Memphis after a near 30-year career, departing as director of investigations and assistant director of forensic services for the U of M’s Division of Forensic Pathology.

Retirement, however, has simply put her on the training and lecture circuit, as Sutton continues to teach bloodstain pattern analysis, one of her specialties, and to consult with officials at all levels of the U.S. criminal justice system.

She’s also qualified as an expert in crime scene reconstruction and forensic serology, which is the detection and classification of body fluids and how they relate to a crime scene.

Among her numerous awards and recognition, including an Outstanding Service Award from the FBI, Sutton is one of only five people in the world to be certified as a “Competent Forensic Expert in Bloodstain Pattern Interpretation” by the Institute on the Physical Significance of Human Bloodstain Evidence.

MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, or FIRE, is sponsoring Sutton’s free public lecture. The Bass Lecture Series, named for renowned University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass, brings respected forensic-science experts to campus each fall and spring.

FIRE’s co-sponsors for Sutton’s lecture are the MTSU Distinguished Lecture Fund, Middle Tennessee Forensic Science Society and the College of Liberal Arts.

Off-campus visitors planning to attend should be aware that nearby construction may limit parking opportunities. Organizers are encouraging visitors to park in the South Rutherford Boulevard lot and ride a Raider Xpress shuttle into campus to the Student Union building. A printable campus map is available at

For more information on the April 18 lecture, please contact the FIRE offices at 615-494-7713 or visit

— Gina E. Fann (