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Figure 12.3 Contact wound of body through two layers of cloth. Note the appearance of the wound in chest, which simulates a loose contact.

Complete absorption of the soot and powder by clothing can occur in what ordinarily would be called an intermediate range wound. The resultant absence of powder tattooing on the skin results in an intermediate-range wound having the appearance of a distant wound.

Whether powder perforates clothing to mark the skin depends on the nature of the material, the number of layers of clothing, and the physical form of the powder. Ball powder can readily perforate one and even two layers of cloth to produce tattooing of the underlying skin. Under unusual circumstances, it will perforate three layers. It usually cannot penetrate four layers. Flake powder, on the other hand, usually does not perforate even one layer of cloth unless the range is extremely close.

In intermediate-range wounds involving clothed areas, apparent absence of powder on the outside of the clothing can be associated with dense powder tattooing of the underlying skin when the type of powder is ball powder (Figure 12.4). Ball powder, because of its shape, readily perforates the weave of the cloth, producing powder tattooing of the skin. Although powder may seem to be absent on the outside of the shirt with the naked eye, use of the dissecting microscope will reveal occasional balls of powder caught in the weave of the material. If for some reason the clothing has been separated from the body and the clothing is examined by one individual and the body

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