In The News


2017-08-07 | Justice Dept. Revives Effort Looking at Forensic Evidence
Taking the commission's place will be a "forensic science working group" whose top mission will be setting uniform standards for testimony, with input from defense attorneys, academic and forensic scientists and other stakeholders, Rosenstein planned to announce Monday. Its leader will be Ted Hunt, a longtime prosecutor from Missouri whose online biography says he has worked on more than 100 felony trials, most of which have involved DNA or other forensic evidence. He was also involved with the National Commission on Forensic Science, the group Sessions allowed to expire. A new group with an in-house adviser had been anticipated, but Rosenstein said it will seek feedback from outside experts, after critics were concerned it would be too insular.

2017-08-03 | Kansas City police seeing increase in property crime
As officers searched for evidence inside her town home, they found fingerprints. That gave her hope her case might be solved quickly, but lost that hope after what detectives told her. "It would take two years to get the fingerprints back to identify whose fingerprints they picked up. I thought that was very alarming. The two-year mark from the break-in came and went.

2017-08-03 | Holtzclaw Case: DNA Experts Ask Public to Weigh in on DNA Evidence
A group of a half-dozen DNA experts now contend on his behalf that the evidence in one of the key samples is troubling—and may be grounds for overturning the verdict, they argue in a new public letter. “During Mr. Holtzclaw’s trial, the DNA analyst drew conclusions that were inconsistent with her reported results and which may have been outside the realm of her expertise,” the experts write. “In addition, important information regarding the DNA results from the fly area of Mr. Holtzclaw’s pants was not fully disclosed during the DNA analyst’s trial testimony.”

2017-07-26 | Court Says Man Wrongly Imprisoned After Witness's Sneaker ID Can Seek Compensation
The July 20 appeals court ruling said authorities violated Lemons’ rights by not telling the defense that police identified Lemons as a suspect using shoes not publicly available when the slaying occurred. Lemons, who has always maintained his innocence, requested a new trial in 2008 and learned through a public records request that an eyewitness identification of him hinged on the pair of white and Carolina blue Nike Air Jordan sneakers he wore in a physical line up. The witness had passed over Lemons in a photo lineup but told police she identified Lemons in the physical lineup because he was wearing the same sneakers as the man she saw the night of the shooting. Her ID was the only piece of evidence linking Lemons to the crime.

2017-07-25 | Testing of Kentucky Rape Kit Backlog Linked Convicted Serial Rapist to Additional Attack, Police Say
“It's what we envisioned, it's what other states have experienced, that you end up solving a lot of crimes, rape crimes and old homicide crimes,” said Gretchen Hunt, head of the Office of Victim’s Advocacy in Kentucky’s Office of the Attorney General. “But the other thing it underscores for us is the severity of the crime of rape. In this particular indictment, you see a long history of serial offenses of rape, and you know, we see serial offenders even in cases of campus sexual assault and other crimes.” Miller is awaiting trial on two rape charges with similar circumstances. Both rapes occurred in 2015 and involve victims who were offered rides, only to be taken to area cemeteries and raped.

2017-07-21 | AAAS Report Points Out Flaws in Forensic Fire Science, Offers Suggestions for Improvement
A recent report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science examines some of the shortcomings of current forensic fire investigation practices, both on the scene and in the lab in cases which may include suspected arson, and offers several suggestions for bridging the gaps that have led to wrongful convictions, and possibly some overlooked cases of intentional arson. One major finding of the report, published last week, was the unreliability of fire investigators to determine the origin of a fire in rooms where the fire had reached flashover—a point at which extreme temperatures of about 500-600 degrees Celsius (932-1112 degrees Fahrenheit) cause every ignitable surface in a room to immediately burst into flames. The report describes this as the point at which “a fire in a room becomes a room on fire.”

2017-07-21 | Police, sheriffs must soon pay to use state crime labs
The Texas Department of Public Safety is notifying local law enforcement agencies across the state Thursday afternoon that it will begin charging for forensic analysis at its crime labs in six weeks, a service that has long been provided for free. Local law enforcement will now have to pay for testing done on controlled substances, toxicology, DNA evidence, and biological specimens to determine the presence of alcohol. DNA testing will cost cities and counties $550 per test. Toxicology tests, such as for DWI enforcement and homicide cases, will cost $150. Alcohol and controlled substance analysis will cost $75 per test. The fees are expected to generate $11,540,852 for the state.

2017-07-20 | How an ex-FBI profiler helped put an innocent man behind bars
There were no fingerprints left behind, no murder weapon. But clues from the crime scene caught the profiler’s attention. The driver’s-side window of the victim’s car had been lowered several inches, suggesting to the profiler that the teen had rolled it down when someone who looked trustworthy approached. And her tube top was askew — a sign, the profiler said, of a botched sexual assault.

2017-07-19 | NYC Official Seeks State Panel to Probe Wrongful Convictions
Former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman established a wrongful commission task force in 2009. The group ultimately recommended ideas the state has approved, including expanding defendants’ access to DNA testing to fight convictions, videotaping many police interrogations, and conducting photo lineups so that the officers administering them don’t know which picture is the suspect’s. Still, the now-retired Lippman said the state needs to “find out what the pattern is” in wrongful-conviction cases as he joined Adams to call for a new commission.

2017-07-10 | Forensic Scientists Recover Human DNA from Mosquitoes
By examining DNA in blood digested by two different species of mosquito over a range of times after feeding, the team was able to trace back blood samples to individual volunteers, even after two days of digesting in the mosquito. After roughly three days the mosquitos completely digested the blood.

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