In The News


2016-02-02 | 1 in a Million? Wrongful Conviction Experts Study DNA Odds
A flawed way of calculating the odds that a defendant left DNA at a crime scene is the next target of prosecutors and criminal justice advocates working together in Texas to weed out wrongful convictions.

2016-02-02 | D.C. Court of Appeals judge faults overstated forensic gun-match claims
Prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office for the District called the error “regrettable,” acknowledging in 2011 court filings that forensic practitioners should not state conclusions to an “absolute” or “100% scientific certainty.” Prosecutors also told the Court of Appeals that the policy barring those 100 percent conclusions in firearms examination cases­ had been in place since about 2009, predating the testimony delivered at Williams’s trial.

2016-01-27 | Bad Blood at Johannesburg Forensic Laboratory
The Johannesburg laboratory in Braamfontein is in a serious mess. Tons of blood and specimen (toxicology) samples, representing a 10-year backlog, are piling up to the roof in the lab because of space shortages, incompetence and severe lack of manpower. Others have gone missing.

2016-01-21 | New crime lab will help return cases quicker
The new laboratory also has technological upgrades including a remote firing apparatus to keep forensic scientists safe when testing possibly faulty guns, imaging software to help document fingerprints from electronics and antiques and robots that can process 96 samples of DNA at a time.

2016-01-18 | Forensic scientists blast State Police crime lab THC policy as man fights to get son back
“This could lead to the wrong charge of possession of synthetic THC and the ultimate wrongful conviction of an individual. For the laboratory to contribute to this possible miscarriage of justice would be a huge black eye for the Division and the Department,” said Lansing crime lab Controlled Substances Unit Supervisor Bradley Choate in an email to colleagues.

2016-01-12 | Fingerprints help identify 2014 burglary suspect, but also highlights backlog in Austin
“I was told, and it was true, that the evidence would sit in a drawer. And it really did sit in a drawer, and it’s been 15 months,” Timberger said. “It’s really frustrating having to wait, and wait, and wait, while you know that somebody’s out there. You know somebody’s out there who had probably done this before and may be doing it again. And you got nothing that you can do about it.”

2016-01-08 | New Research on “Touch” DNA
As the sensitivity of DNA analysis increases, scientists are able to develop profiles from ever-smaller samples of DNA. This has lead to testing of a wider array of samples collected from crime scenes, including window panes, bullets, hats and other clothing, cigarette butts, and many other items.

2016-01-06 | Organic Gunshot Residue Analysis for Potential Shooter Determination
Through the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE), West Virginia University (WVU) evaluated emerging approaches for the detection of gunshot residue (GSR) based on organic materials in the residue. One instrument was evaluated for screening for elemental constituents. This study examined x-ray fluorescence (XRF, a portable instrument), ion mobility spectrometry (IMS), and mass spectrometry. In summary, the study found the following:

2016-01-06 | Can Mites Be Used to Determine Post-Mortem Interval Months After a Death?
But mites that hitch a ride to the decomposing remains might be an overlooked indicator to pin down postmortem interval after months or even years, according to a study in the Journal of Medical Entomology today. “Development of arthropods, particularly blow flies, associated with decomposing human remains currently represents one of the more reliable methods for estimating the… time of death of an individual,” write the researchers. “Little attention has been paid to the utility of mites despite the fact that they may represent the first and/or final ecological seres (waves) association with carrion decomposition due to the success associated with blow fly biology in (time of death) estimation.”

2016-01-05 | DC forensics lab to resume DNA testing in January
Nine months after DNA testing was suspended at the District's independent crime lab, officials said evidence analysis will resume in January following a training and management overhaul. An audit last April found serious flaws in the way the testing was conducted and Jenifer Smith, the new director of the Department of Forensic Sciences, said she found a lab in turmoil from significant mismanagement.

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