In The News


2015-09-17 | Digital evidence on VHS tapes
In this day and age, you’d probably be as surprised as we were to learn that many law enforcement agencies around the country are still using VHS tapes to store digital evidence. Most police departments have already stopped using VHS tapes, but still maintain a lot of old digital evidence, some of which is crucial, on VHS tapes. A few months ago, we published a blog post about the Problems with using CDs/DVDs to store digital evidence and today we thought it's important to mention few of the problems you will face in the near future if you continue to use VHS tapes.

2015-09-16 | Studying Gunshot Backspatter by Shooting Live Pigs?
The researchers shot five live pigs and several severed heads from about a meter distance, and from point-blank range. They shot the animals in the center of the forehead, and captured the results using high-speed video imaging, and paper mats to show the splash patterns, as shown in the latest International Journal of Legal Medicine.

2015-09-16 | Forensic review of sexual assault cases ordered after poor practice concerns
Tully’s review comes as forensic scientists warn that Britain’s over-reliance on cheap DNA techniques and the country’s loss of expertise following privatisation of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in 2012 may have already led to miscarriages of justice. Spending on forensic examinations has shrunk by £20m over the past two years, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) study. In January, the NAO expressed concern that criminal trials could collapse because of problems in the forensic market after the government’s closure of the publicly-owned FSS.

2015-09-12 | New Protocol Leads to Reviews of "Mixed DNA" Evidence
But a second concern emerged after Roady got his evidence analysis back from one of the eight Texas Department of Public Safety crime labs that tests DNA evidence. Recently, DPS and crime labs nationwide have switched to a more conservative analytical approach when looking at "mixed DNA" — which refers to when more than one individual's DNA is present on evidence. "It still included the defendant," Roady said of the new analysis this past summer in a case. "However, the likelihood that the defendant was the only source of the DNA went from 1 in a billion, down to less than 1 in a 100."

2015-09-10 | Can DNA Testing Determine Age?
The study has caused a stir internationally. The company marketing a major facial-phenotyping technology in the United States, Parabon, hired a forensic artist in recent months expressly to capture the age and body-mass-index factors, which were not available from DNA samples. But now the valuable new tool could make facial reconstructions even more accurate. “This paper reports the highest prediction accuracy we've seen for estimating age from biological samples, and we are excited about the possibilities this could bring to the field of DNA phenotyping, namely informing the age we assign to our Snapshot composite images," said Steven Armentrout, the Parabon CEO.

2015-09-09 | 7 Common Mistakes Regarding Autopsy Reports
When a breaking news case involves a sudden, unnatural or violent death, journalists will often get a copy of the autopsy report. Autopsy reports can be daunting to read if you have not been trained in medicine. Because of this, reports in the media can be confusing or misleading to the public. Here, then, are some definitions and guidelines for anyone reading or writing about death investigations, and especially members of the media, should hopefully find useful.

2015-08-24 | Determining the Age of Fingerprints
Even the approximate age of a fingerprint can have a critical bearing on forensic results. It can rule out some prints as being too old to be relevant to a crime scene or, conversely, to help fix the time of the crime. Military forensics experts would like to be able to date the multitude of fingerprints found on improvised bombs used by insurgents to winnow out prints of individuals who may simply have handled the components in a shop from those of the actual bombmakers. But a reliable technique has yet to be found.

2015-08-20 | Crime lab backlog continues to delay death penalty case
Nearly two years after an Ardmore woman was shot to death, only one-third of the physical evidence that Winston-Salem police seized in their investigation has been sent to the State Crime Lab, according to a letter from an attorney representing one of the defendants. And only about 20 percent of the evidence sent has been examined, David Botchin, an attorney representing Anthony Vinh Nguyen, writes in a July 29 letter to Jennifer Martin, the chief assistant district attorney who is one of two prosecutors in the case.

2015-08-12 | CSI tool could pinpoint when fingerprints were left behind
The researchers studied various molecules in fingerprints and found that a substance called palmitic acid migrates away from print ridges at a predictable rate. Based on this diffusion, the scientists could estimate how old a fingerprint was. Their findings apply to prints up to four days old, but they plan to expand that window to 10 days.

2015-08-10 | DNA Test Makes Debut in New Jersey Murder Case
The trial of a Wood-Ridge man accused of beating a woman to death and setting her body on fire will mark the first time that a jury in New Jersey will consider evidence in a murder case based on a "next generation" test that can analyze the DNA from just a few cells of biological material.

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