In The News


2016-07-28 | Study Leads to Changes In Un-Submitted Assault Kits
Criminal justice agencies need to be prepared to follow up on sexual assault cases with a victim-centered approach in order to improve responses to these crimes in their communities, according to research findings from Sam Houston State University.

2016-07-08 | Do You Own Your Own Fingerprints?
Under the Illinois law, companies must obtain written consent from customers before collecting their biometric data. They also must declare a point at which they’ll destroy the data, and they must not sell it. BIPA allows for damages of $5,000 per violation. “Social Security numbers, when compromised, can be changed,” the law reads. “Biometrics, however, are biologically unique to the individual; therefore, once compromised, the individual has no recourse, [and] is at heightened risk for identity theft.”

2016-07-06 | Crime lab: Some evidence isn’t worth dealing with
“In an effort to ensure that we are providing the most effective customer service in our crime laboratory and to ensure that we utilize all of our available resources to maximum benefit, we have been reviewing the services that our laboratory provides,” Steven Woodson, director of Wyoming’s Division of Criminal Investigation said on DCI’s website. The letter is addressed to “all prosecutors and law enforcement officials.” As a result of the changes the lab will cease accepting requests for hair, fiber, physical match, glass and headlamp analysis, Woodson said. The lab will also limit what requests it grants for gunshot residue.

2016-07-01 | Crime Scene Investigation: Blood Analysis May Soon Reveal Originator’s Age Range
Scientists have come up with a way to determine a person's age range based on blood. This can be very useful in crime scenes since it would be easier for investigators to determine if the blood belongs to a juvenile or an adult. Moreover, the method can determine the time when the blood was deposited at the scene. "It was recently shown that biomarkers present in blood can also identify characteristics of the originator, such as ethnicity and biological sex," reads the abstract of the study. "A biocatalytic assay for on-site forensic investigations was developed to simultaneously identify the age range of the blood sample originator and the time since deposition (TSD) of the blood spot."

2016-06-27 | Convicted Killer Gets New Trial after DNA Expert Testified Over Skype
A convicted killer will get a whole new trial, since the forensic DNA expert testified at trial by Skype - thereby depriving him of his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers, the New Mexico Supreme Court recently ruled. Truett Thomas, convicted of first-degree murder and serving life in prison, will get a whole new trial because the expert had moved out of state and was conferenced in via the video-conferencing program, according to the decision. Thomas’s defense attorney initially found the request to be “just weird.” But a week before the expert was to testify, objected to it on Sixth Amendment grounds.

2016-06-27 | How Science Is Putting a New Face on Crime Solving
Bouzigard’s assailant had also left behind a promising clue. From tissue caught under her fingernails as she struggled for her life, the detectives were able to pick up a clear DNA sample. To find the killer, all they needed was a match. The number she had dialed led police to a crew of undocumented Mexican workers. “So we started getting warrants for DNA swabs, getting translators, working with immigration,” Mancuso recalls.

Because there are no consistent federal requirements for law enforcement to track rape kits that haven't been tested, it's impossible to know the exact size of the national backlog. Sitting at her computer, Worthy learned that Detroit wasn't the first municipality to confront the issue: New York City had a backlog of 17,000 kits in 1999, but after the local government spent $12 million to process them, it was cleared by 2003.

2016-06-21 | Analyst unable to match prints to Brantner
According to Harrington, some of the latent prints that were developed from the van's doors matched now-retired Fond du Lac police detective Milt Swantz, one of the first officers to handle Beck's van in July 1990. Swantz apparently did not take enough precautions to avoid contaminating the van with his fingerprints. Most of the fingerprints Harrington identified from the van matched the fingerprints of Beck. A handful of additional fingerprints from the van belonged to the victim's younger brother, Ben, who was also a teenager at the time. But other latent prints were a source of mystery to Harrington for many years.

2016-06-21 | Quantifying the Weight of Forensic Evidence
On May 5 and 6, 2016, NIST hosted a technical colloquium on an important question facing virtually every branch of forensic science today: How should forensic examiners quantify the weight of evidence they find in a case? This was the first technical colloquium in the United States to focus specifically on this issue, and it generated an animated and much needed exchange of ideas.

2016-06-20 | Oregon DA is gunning for justice in review of convictions
District Attorney John Hummel is vowing to re-examine each conviction, arguing that revisiting them is critical to ensure that the public has confidence in the justice system. So far, he has recommended 10 convictions be overturned. "I want people to say: 'You know what? When the DA stands up and says he thinks someone is guilty, he is doing that based on solid evidence,'" said Hummel, whose county's natural beauty belies a reputation for misdeeds by its own lawmen.

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