Category Archives: Current Cases

FBI forensics hits Hollywood speed, researcher says

If you believe everything you see on TV, forensic scientists can wrap up a case in an hour.
That doesn’t happen in real life. Until it does, said professor Steven Lee of FIU’s International Forensic Research Institute.

Man Who Wrongfully Spent 17 Years in Prison in ‘Doppelgänger Case’ Seeks $1.1 Million

Nearly two decades ago, Richard A. Jones was convicted of aggravated robbery after being picked out of a lineup by witnesses who said he stole a cellphone in a Walmart parking lot in Kansas.
But while Mr. Jones, who maintains he is innocent, was serving his 19-year sentence at Lansing Correctional Facility, inmates told him he looked like a prisoner named Ricky.
That resemblance would eventually lead to his freedom.

Were Colorado girls strangled? Father’s lawyers requested DNA swabs from children’s necks.

The two young Colorado girls who, along with their mother, were killed this past week may have been strangled before their bodies were dumped in an oil well, according to a court document.
A motion filed Friday by attorneys defending Christopher Watts, who investigators believe killed his pregnant wife and daughters, asks that DNA samples be taken from the children’s necks. The document cites an expert who argued that DNA would still be present on the bodies — even though they had been submerged in crude oil for four days before they were found — but that evidence would be lost once the autopsies were performed.

Czech Priest Killed by Communist Regime ID’d by DNA, Before Beatification

During a holy Mass on the third Sunday of Advent, on Dec. 11, 1949, in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Číhošť southeast of Prague, a miracle was reported.
The half-meter iron crucifix on the main altar above the tabernacle was said to have moved on its own several times—and 19 parishioners said they saw it, reporting it to the parish priest, Josef Toufar. Toufar dutifully reported to the regime’s Communist State Security Service.

Judge Halts All DNA Testing in the Capital Murder of Eric Torrez for All 5 Defendants

Judge Weatherby allowed attorneys for all the defendants to address the court. At issue is that of the 50 or so pieces of physical evidence needing to be tested, some 8 to 10 of those pieces don’t have enough material to test more than once and attorneys for each of the five defendants said they wanted to conduct separate testing on the evidence.

‘Making a Murderer’ teen asks Supreme Court to take case

The Supreme Court’s justices will have their first opportunity to discuss taking Dassey’s case in a closed-door meeting Thursday. If they won’t hear it, that news could come as early as Monday. If the court does agree to hear the case, arguments would be in the fall.

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.”

London fire may have destroyed DNA needed to ID victims

The devastating fire that struck a high-rise tower in London may have been so powerful that it destroyed much of the DNA evidence needed to identify its victims.
As firefighters keep searching the charred ruins of the Grenfell Tower public housing complex with sniffer dogs and drones, Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy said there was “a risk that, sadly, we may not be able to identify everybody.”

After 27 Years, Judge Overturns Rape Conviction

A Dane County judge on Friday overturned the rape conviction of a man who has served 27 years in prison largely on the strength of a single hair after the FBI admitted its analyst’s conclusion tying Richard Beranek to that hair was flawed.DNA testing has confirmed that neither the hair nor semen found in the perpetrator’s underwear left at the scene of the sexual assault matched Beranek, according to Beranek’s motion for a new trial.

Murder Case Highlights Importance Of Conviction Review

On Thursday, Hartford Judge Julia D. Dewey vacated the conviction of Alfred Swinton for the murder of Carla Terry in 1991 and ordered a new trial. Swinton was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.
What makes the judge’s decision unusual is that it was supported by State’s Attorney Gail Hardy. The decision is the result, in part, of the increased sophistication of DNA testing in recent years. But it also reflects the willingness of prosecutors in Connecticut to undertake what amounts to a conviction integrity review when presented with substantial evidence of a possible wrongful conviction.

New tech helps catch ‘serial killer’

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The ministry said it used new technology to retest biological evidence, allowing it to identify Gao. Earlier this year officers examined Gao’s DNA and fingerprints and found they matched those of the wanted killer.

Ottawa police used ruse to get DNA from murder accused

dna12As far as the police were concerned, accused killer Gurpreet Ronald sealed her own fate — or, at least, licked it.
In some remarkable detective work, Ottawa police investigating the Jan. 29, 2014, slaying of Jagtar Gill surreptitiously got a DNA sample from her husband’s mistress, Gurpreet Ronald, in an elaborate ruse that had the murder suspect filling out a contest entry form and licking its envelope with the hopes of winning.

DNA analysis of A321 crash victims’ remains started in Moscow – Health Ministry

DNA ID of A321DNA analyses have been started in Moscow to help identify the remains of the victims of the Airbus A321 crash in Egypt, Russian Deputy Health Minister Igor Agramanian said.

The “Baby Doe” Investigation Showcases Forensic Science at Its Purest

Baby and DNAThe story of “Baby Doe”–the little girl whose body was found along a Boston shoreline in June–has captured the nation’s attention. So far, we know virtually nothing about what happened. We don’t know who she was, what happened to her, or who was responsible.

‘One in a billion’ DNA match between murder accused and gloves found at scene

helix9A pair of gloves found in a hedgerow near to the scene of Simon Holdsworth’s murder had a ‘one in a billion’ DNA match to his colleague Shaun Wainwright, a court heard.
The gloves were found by police on January 15, 2014 – almost one month after Mr Holdsworth was beaten to death with a blunt weapon on playing fields near Rainbow Forge Primary School in Hackenthorpe on December 16, 2013.