In The News


2015-11-02 | Super-Sensitive Techniques Make DNA Evidence Lie Sometimes, Expert Says
DNA found under the fingernails of murdered California millionaire Raveesh Kumra led police to Lukis Anderson of San Jose. But after Anderson spent five months in jail, investigators found out that Anderson, a homeless alcoholic, had in fact been drunk and passed out in a hospital at the time of the attack. He couldn't have committed the murder. But investigators discovered that two paramedics who had picked up and moved Anderson also responded to the Kumra murder scene. Police determined that DNA from Anderson somehow got transferred to Kumra's body by the paramedics.

2015-10-30 | Forensic DNA evidence is not infallible
Research done by me and others at the University of Indianapolis in Indiana has highlighted how unreliable this kind of evidence can be. We have found that it is relatively straightforward for an innocent person's DNA to be inadvertently transferred to surfaces that he or she has never come into contact with. This could place people at crime scenes that they had never visited or link them to weapons they had never handled.

2015-10-29 | Crime Lab Scandals Just Keep Getting Worse
Earlier this year, I wrote about a sprawling prosecutorial scandal in Orange County, California, involving a long-standing program of secret jailhouse snitches that had tainted prosecutions in cases almost too numerous to count. This story has only continued to worsen. One of the prosecutors at the heart of the case simply packed up and left California last month, and just this week the news emerged that Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas had been told that his office might have a jailhouse informant problem all the way back to 1999, a full 16 years before the current allegations about the misuse of jailhouse snitches had surfaced.

2015-10-27 | In 42-year-old cold case, suspected murder victim turns up alive
Authorities never found out who Jane Doe was, but, over the years, kept one name close: Betsy Langjahr. Now, four decades later, the news media has helped police learn Langjahr is very much alive.

2015-10-27 | Which Standards Are Standard? Differences between ISO/IEC 17025 and 17020 for forensic agencies
To become accredited, the forensic agency must apply to an accreditation body and complete the necessary requirements of the accreditation process. But there are two standards: ISO/IEC 17020 and ISO/IEC 17025. So the agency quickly needs to consider which requirements are most appropriate for them.

2015-10-27 | Five Case Studies in Forensic Toxicology
So, now that we’ve established the stakes, let’s take a look at five case studies that illustrate the most common errors forensic pathologists make related to toxicology.

2015-10-27 | Evidence Tampering Probe Widens at Oregon Crime Lab
"Investigators assigned to this case have discovered that evidence assigned to at least one analyst other than our suspect has been tampered with, Hummel wrote. "The working assumption is that the suspect in this case tampered with the evidence assigned to the other analyst.

2015-10-27 | DNA issue frees Lakeville man from Texas jail, but '83 murder charge remains
Last month, the Texas Department of Public Safety notified prosecutors about the new standard being needed in the analysis of “mixed DNA.” That refers to when more than one person’s DNA is found on evidence. That means a re-examination is needed of the “mixed DNA” in Otteson’s case, Beck said.

2015-10-27 | Third man charged in fatal shooting of St. Paul woman
Police later examined Wierstad’s apartment and noticed items that looked out of place. Officers also found a kitchen window screen had been cut. Fingerprints found on the window matched those of Bell, and surveillance video later showed him using her credit card at a gas station, according to the complaints.

2015-10-23 | Steaming out some of luminol’s wrinkles
Luminol gets trotted out pretty frequently on TV crime shows, but a new technique might someday compete with the storied forensics tool as a police procedural plot device and, perhaps more importantly, as a means of solving real crimes. Recently published work from the University of South Carolina is showing that what the researchers term “steam thermography” has the ability to spot blood spots in all kinds of spots—even in spots where luminol can’t.

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