Monthly Archives: February 2016

Debate rages in courts over ‘high-sensitivity’ DNA analysis

touch DNANEW YORK — One New York judge ruled the DNA evidence was scientifically sound. Another, just miles away, tossed it out as unreliable.
The same scenario is playing out in courthouses around the world amid a debate over whether a type of DNA analysis involving the amplification of tiny amounts of genetic material is reliable enough to convict someone for a crime.
The technique, known as low-copy number or high-sensitivity analysis can be used when investigators use “touch DNA” and are only able to collect a few human cells left behind when someone touches an object such as a gun, the handle of a knife, or even clothing.

Project Kudzu Crime Fighting Coalition All Over Criminals

helix 10In a large new initiative meant to fight crime, 11 area law enforcement agencies are joining together to form a new “consortium.”
It will hire trained DNA and evidence technicians, and open a new law enforcement office that will jointly provide the participating agencies services such as rapid response DNA testing, advanced fingerprint and gun residue analysis, and predictive crime analytics capabilities meant to predict the time and place of future crime, and perhaps stop it before it happens.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Legislation To Promote Statewide Tracking of DNA Evidence

helix10SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced her sponsorship of two bills which will improve statewide tracking of forensic evidence through the adoption of technology. The legislative package directs law enforcement to take advantage of two secure databases operated by the California Department of Justice: the CODIS Hit Outcome Project (CHOP), which enables agencies to share confidential information about the outcomes of DNA matches; and the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) database, which will enable the state to track the collection and processing of sexual assault evidence kits.

Justice Dept. to Do ‘Stress Test’ of FBI Forensic Sciences

DNA hair analysisThe Justice Department is reviewing forensic sciences practiced by the FBI to ensure that experts are not overstating their findings against criminal defendants, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said Wednesday.
The review will look at whether other scientific disciplines have been tainted by flawed testimony, a problem that surfaced last year when the Justice Department revealed that experts had overstated the strength of their evidence in many older cases dating back decades involving microscopic hair analysis.

Defense attempts to discredit DNA evidence in Grim Sleeper trial

Touch DNA TestingProsecutors continued to press their case Wednesday that DNA evidence linking the deaths of several women to the man accused of being the “Grim Sleeper” killer was overwhelming.
That DNA evidence has been the focus of testimony this week in the trial of Lonnie Franklin Jr., who prosecutors say is responsible for a series of slayings in South Los Angeles spanning more than 20 years.

New Solicitation: Forensic Technology Center of Excellence

Justice DeptThe NIJ is seeking proposals to establish and operate a Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) to support its research, development, testing, and evaluation processes across all areas of forensic science.

DNA From Earliest Muslim Graves In France Reveals North African Origins

Nimes BurialsArchaeologists have long known about Arab-Muslim expansion throughout the Mediterranean region in the Middle Ages. Reaching the Iberian Peninsula in 711 AD, Arab armies and Muslim troops spread into France, Spain, and Portugal. But while written records document this expansion, archaeological and burial evidence of early Muslims past the Pyrenees is basically non-existent. In a new study out today, a group of researchers has published the first DNA evidence of people from Muslim-style burials in Nîmes, France.

Private forensic lab is a idea whose time has come

sexual assault kit 4Over the next two weeks, governments in an eight-county region that includes and surrounds the Shoals area will be asked to support a plan to create a forensic lab that would be staffed and operated by the University of North Alabama.

Bringing up the bodies in Guatemala

Skeleton in GuatemalaIn February 2012, Edgar Hernandez walked with a team of archaeologists beneath the lush cypress forests of a military base in Coban, a city of 250,000 that sits in a high misty valley in the mountains of central Guatemala. They cleared grass from areas where the land seemed to dip, as though the soil had been disturbed decades before. Then, surrounded by soldiers, the archaeologists staked out thin exploratory trenches and began to dig.

Idaho committee unanimously backs rape kit legislation

sexual assault kitsBOISE, Idaho (AP) -Idaho lawmakers are supporting a bill that would create a statewide system of collecting and tracking the physical evidence in sexual assault investigations.
The measure ensures that medical clinics will use rape kits to collect forensic evidence after a suspected sexual assault and will have that evidence sent for DNA testing unless the victim requests otherwise.

Scientists Use Infrared Laser Heat in Nanopore Sensing to Study DNA

Heat laser and DNAA team of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University have formulated a novel method to examine DNA molecules. Their research paper titled, “Infrared laser heating applied to nanopore sensing for DNA duplex analysis,” discusses the method for improved forensic DNA workflows to gain much faster and precise identification. The paper has been published in the Analytical Chemistry journal, and was available online from 19th February.

Oklahoma House kills mandatory DNA testing of accused felons

Justice and DNAOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The Oklahoma House has defeated legislation that would require persons arrested on a felony charge to submit their DNA.
The House voted 56-38 Monday against the measure. Its author, Republican Rep. Lee Denney of Cushing, kept it alive by asking members to reconsider their vote at a later date.

Ohio crime lab to test 10,000th formerly shelved rape kit

DeWineCLEVELAND, Ohio – Just more than four years ago, Attorney General Mike DeWine asked Ohio police departments to follow Cleveland’s lead in clearing evidence room shelves of untested rape kits.
This week forensic analysts at a beefed-up state DNA lab will test the 10,000th sexual assault kit submitted as part of the statewide initiative.

Pared down bill would limit law enforcement DNA sample collection

(Harrisburg) — The state House has scaled back a measure that aims to redefine how law enforcement could use DNA samples in Pennsylvania.

Katie’s Law- Ten Years Later

Jayann Sepich1It has been 10 years since New Mexico passed the original version of Katie’s Law, and Jayann Sepich, the mother whose fight for justice has moved on to the national and even international level, feels re-energized about her effort.