DOJ launches website tracking backlog of untested sexual assault kits

The Wisconsin Department of Justice announced a new website last month to keep the public informed on the number of untested sexual assault kits, otherwise known as “rape kits.”
Currently there are 6,391 previously untested kits, 4,067 kits of which are designated for testing.

Virginia faces DNA, drug testing backlog

RICHMOND, Va. — A significant backlog of evidence in Virginia’s state labs goes beyond rape kits, and includes smartphones, seized drugs and attempts to link guns used in one crime to other cases, the Department of Forensic Science director told a state senate committee Thursday.
As of Oct. 1, the department has a backlog of 2,158 DNA tests, including rape kits that are taking an average of 152 days to complete, 113 outstanding requests to extract digital and multimedia evidence that each take more than a year on average to complete, and a backlog of thousands of seized drugs and guns to be tested.

Case dropped against man tried 32 years ago

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Prosecutors dismissed charges Wednesday against a man who spent three decades in prison for a rape conviction based in part on one strand of hair.

Justice announces National SAKI grant award

Governor Jim Justice announced Tuesday he has awarded $377,335 in West Virginia National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant funds to one statewide project.

Lagos DNA lab: A welcome initiative

THE Lagos State Government, penultimate week, commissioned its DNA (Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid) forensic laboratory. It is the first state-owned DNA laboratory in the country. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had, last year, approved the DNA laboratory project as part of the criminal justice sector reforms designed to solve crimes through technology.

In Easter Island DNA, Evidence of Genetic Loneliness

A small green dot lost in the vastness of the southeastern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island has long enchanted archaeologists and the public. Hundreds of giant stone figures, or Moai, that decorate the volcanic island remain a source of fascination.
One of the greatest mysteries about Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, concerns the identity of its earliest inhabitants, the architects of the stoic statues. Did they have genetic ties to natives on the South American land mass thousands of miles away, or were their origins solely in the Pacific islands to the west?

Eurofins to reinforce its Forensic services portfolio and footprint with the acquisition of LGC Forensics

Eurofins Scientific (EUFI.PA), a European leader in Forensic DNA and Toxicology testing in France, Germany and Belgium, announces that it has signed an agreement to acquire the Forensics and Security division of LGC (“LGC Forensics”), the largest player in the UK forensics market, a European pioneer in this field and a significant forensic DNA testing provider in Germany, from LGC Group. The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks, upon fulfillment of customary closing conditions.

NIST Urges Caution in Use of Courtroom Evidence Presentation Method

Two experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are calling into question a method of presenting evidence in courtrooms, arguing that it risks allowing personal preference to creep into expert testimony and potentially distorts evidence for a jury.

Kuwait’s plans for mandatory DNA database have been cancelled

Kuwait has revoked the world’s first law requiring all citizens and visitors to submit samples of their DNA.
Passed in 2015, the law was challenged last year by lawyers in Kuwait. Last week, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the law violates the constitution’s guarantee of personal liberty.

Could new national DNA database provide a break in one of Alberta’s most gruesome cold cases?

Septic Tank Sam lies in an unmarked grave in an Edmonton cemetery, his identity no less a mystery than when his tortured body was pulled from a rural septic tank on a spring day in 1977.
But 40 years after Sam met his grisly end, cold case investigators hope a new national DNA database will give fresh leads on who he was — and who killed him.
Set to launch in 2018, the RCMP’s national children and missing persons unidentified remains database will allow investigators to compare DNA from unidentified human remains to DNA from living relatives who offer a sample in hopes of finding answers about a missing loved one.

New Clues to How Neanderthal Genes Affect Your Health

If your arthritis is bad today or you’re slathering on aloe for an early autumn sunburn, Neanderthals may be partly to blame.
Scientists announced today the second complete, high-quality sequencing of a Neanderthal genome, made using the 52,000-year-old bones of a female found in the Vindija cave in Croatia.
Together with the genomes from another Neanderthal woman and a host of modern humans, a suite of analyses is yielding new clues about how DNA from Neanderthals contributed to our genetic makeup and might still be affecting us today.

Department Of Justice Awards Nearly $37 Million To Support Sexual Assault Kit Testing, Tracking And Investigation

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced awards totaling nearly $37 million to help state, local and tribal government agencies improve the response to sexual assault and victim services, and analyze unsubmitted sexual assault kits in law enforcement custody. The grants will aid jurisdictions in reducing backlogs of sexual assault evidence and solving crimes of sexual violence.
Administered through the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, managed by the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance, 21 grant awards totaling more than $35 million were awarded to improve the processing of sexual assault kits and strengthen jurisdictions’ capacity to act on evidence resulting from kit processing. Those awards are available online at: https://www.bja.gov/funding/FY-2017-National-Sexual-Assault-Kit-Initiative-Funding-Awards.pdf

Attorney General DeWine Announces 13,000 Rape Kits Tested as Part of Special Initiative

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that more than 13,000 sexual assault kits have now been analyzed as part of a special Attorney General’s Office initiative to test thousands of previously untested rape kits in the state of Ohio.
Nearly 300 local law enforcement agencies submitted a total of 13,931 sexual assault kits for analysis as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative. As of October 1, 2017, 13,145 of the submitted kits – or 94 percent – have been tested by forensic scientists with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).

Judge denies Steven Avery’s request for a new trial

SHEBOYGAN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – A circuit court judge has denied Steven Avery’s request for a new trial in the murder of Teresa Halbach.
On Tuesday, Sheboygan County Judge Angela Sutkiewicz issued a decision and order saying, “the defendant has failed to establish any grounds that would trigger the right to a new trial in the interests of justice. As such, no further consideration will be given to this issue.”

NIST to Assess the Reliability of Forensic Methods for Analyzing DNA Mixtures

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will undertake a study to assess the reliability of forensic methods for analyzing DNA evidence that, if misapplied, could lead to innocent people being wrongly convicted. The study will focus on DNA mixtures involving three or more people, and on very small quantities of DNA also known as touch DNA.