Monthly Archives: September 2018

Groundbreaking, long-running DNA exoneration effort coming to an end

Nothing like it had ever been done anywhere before in any state. The job initially largely fell in the lap of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science with no road map to guide it.
In the years that followed the project’s launch, the General Assembly – in bipartisan actions – stepped in several times, twice concerning the notification of persons whose old evidence was being tested. Eventually the Virginia State Crime Commission and numerous state agencies (in and out of law enforcement) helped out, as did various innocence projects, pro-bono lawyers and other volunteers.

NIST details plans for reviewing the scientific foundations of forensic methods

NIST has published Draft NISTIR 8225, Scientific Foundation Reviews. This publication describes NIST’s approach to conducting scientific foundation reviews, which seek to document and evaluate the body of scientific data underpinning forensic science methods. NIST requests that readers submit comments, which will be considered when producing a final version of the document.

Murder case deploying cutting edge DNA analysis moves to appeals court

A San Diego murder case that questions whether the creator of a sophisticated, computer-driven DNA analysis technique that is gaining wide use in crime labs across the country should be required to share the computer source code with defense lawyers is now in the hands of the 4th District Court of Appeal.
The case of Florencio Jose Dominguez has attracted attention from criminal justice groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Aid Society of New York. At issue is how the increasing use of new forensic tools — which rely on complex computer programs developed largely by private companies — can be questioned in court proceedings.

How familial DNA trapped a murderer for the first time

BBC News- The pioneering technique used to identify a British widow’s sadistic killer has led to hundreds of crimes being solved around the world. How was familial DNA searching used to catch a murderer for the first time, 15 years ago, and more recently the suspected Golden State Killer?

Rep. calls for hearings on multimillion-dollar Lincoln hat

SPRINGFIELD — Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said Wednesday the Illinois House should hold hearings to get to the bottom of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation and a hat purportedly owned by Abraham Lincoln that the foundation shelled out millions to obtain.

Framed By Your Own Cells: How DNA Evidence Imprisons The Innocent

FORBES- Modern technologies can now detect and analyze DNA from samples comprised of only 16 cells. But due to the touch-transfer properties of DNA, determining how those cells reached the surface on which they were found is impossible. Tiny amounts of touch-transferred DNA have placed people at locations they had never visited and implicated people for crimes they did not commit.

Corn in the bones: The science behind North Korea war remains

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — When war remains arrive at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to be reunited with waiting families, there’s always a question: How do they know for sure who it is?
DPAA laboratory director John Byrd and forensic anthropologist Jennie Jin, who leads the Korea War team, walked reporters through the science behind how they will identify 55 boxes of remains returned by North Korea this summer.

GCC Forensics Exhibition & Conference – the Region’s Leading Forensics Event – Announces Agenda

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, September 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ —
The Conference Agenda for the 2nd edition of the GCC Forensics Conference, organised by Clarion Events, has been released. Following the unprecedented success of the inaugural edition of the event last year, there was an overwhelming response to the Call for Abstracts and the agenda is packed full of first-rate speakers from around the world.

DNA analysis helps identify Africa’s major ivory smugglers

Researchers in the US have used DNA analysis to reveal that there are three major exporters who are illegally smuggling the largest amounts of ivory out of African ports.
The scientists genetically matched elephant tusks from large ivory seizures and then compared this data to other details including the port from where the ivory was exported.

Forensic Science is in My DNA

Working in law enforcement is as tough as it is rewarding. I got my start in 1968 as a beat cop in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My initial years on the force eventually led me to a 50-year career in forensic science.
I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time.

Forensic conference seeks global standards on DNA

Forensic experts at an international conference said on Monday that unified standards and regulated procedures in DNA identification will play a bigger role in fighting crime and safeguarding public safety by increasing criminal cooperation.
The Silk Road Forensic Consortium provides a platform for forensic experts from home and abroad to exchange ideas and challenges, and it can do more in DNA identification studies and applications, the experts said at the 3rd Conference of Silk Road Forensic Consortium in Yantai, Shandong province.

Under the Microscope – Kate Stevenson

SWGDAM outlines validation requirements for individual laboratories which include concordance, reproducibility, accuracy and precision, sensitivity and stochastic effects and mixture studies. The details of these requirements are informative but balancing of sample numbers versus robust results to establish conclusions and subsequent guidelines is more tricky.
In her presentation at ISHI, Kate Stevenson (a Senior Scientist at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR) will describe the lessons learnt from validation studies at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR). The goal being an understanding of the performance of each kit or instrument including its limitations when used on casework like samples.
We sat down with Kate and asked her what considerations a lab should think through prior to starting a validation and the differences between validating quantification kits versus STR amplification kits.

Male lineage helps identify missing service members

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System’s Armed Forces DNA Identification Labratory briefed families of missing service members at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s latest family member update in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 8, 2018.
The DPAA conducts periodic and annual government briefings for families of service members who are missing in action. These events are designed to keep family members informed of those still missing and to discuss in detail the latest information available about their specific case. Nearly 350 families participated in this months’ FMU making it the most attended FMU since Dallas, Texas, 2012.

Chris Watts case: DNA evidence could prove to be ‘smoking gun’ if judge grants prosecution’s motion

A judge could rule on some of the motions Thursday afternoon or evening. Prosecutors have asked Watts to provide them and police with buccal swabs for DNA, finger and palm prints and photographs of Watts’ hands.

“Hundreds” of crimes will soon be solved using DNA databases, genealogist predicts

Suspects in hundreds of unsolved murders and rapes will be identified using public DNA databases in the near future, a prominent genealogist predicted during MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference today.
CeCe Moore, head of a genealogy unit at Parabon Nanolabs, predicted that “dozens” of cases will be solved in coming months in the US.