In The News


2015-03-29 | Omaha prosecutors' memo delves into crime lab controversies over suspended director, fingerprint evidence
In an unprecedented move, Omaha prosecutors have crafted a memo for defense attorneys that provides new details, and a few old ones, on a recent run of controversies dogging Omaha’s crime labs. The three-page memo — compiled by Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine’s office — exposes a new controversy: a ballistics test that was recently botched by Omaha police in a double murder investigation. The memo sheds new light on allegations against Douglas County Crime Lab Director Tracey Ray, who has been on paid leave since October. And it lays out the details of a fingerprint misidentified by three Omaha police crime lab investigators.

2015-03-25 | State Bar punishes Johnston prosecutor
After a disciplinary hearing March 3, the bar found that Paul Jackson mishandled a 2011 rape case, and because of that, the defendant remained in jail for an additional four and a half months. Specifically, Jackson failed to take notice when rape kit results became available, and he inaccurately told a judge that he had been in contact with the State Crime Lab. The defendant’s DNA did not match the sample in the rape kit.

2015-03-18 | Amid push to clear rape kit backlog, extent of problem unknown in Az
Mass testing of backlogged kits in other parts of the country has yielded promising results, according to the White House press release. It pointed to 11,000 kits found in an abandoned Detroit police storage unit in 2009, about 2,000 of which had been tested as of this January under a pilot project. It said that testing “resulted in approximately 760 DNA matches and led to the identification of 188 serial offenders and 15 convictions.”

2015-03-17 | Bill Would Require Post-Conviction Preservation of DNA
A bill that has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate would require DNA collected in any felony case charged as a violent or sex offense to be preserved through the length of the offender's sentence, including post-prison community custody. In cold cases, where no one has been charged or convicted, the DNA would have to be maintained throughout the statute of limitations for the crime.

2015-03-16 | Speed Freak Killers case: Retired FBI agent alleges San Joaquin Sheriff's Office sabotaged crime scene
"(The Sheriff's Office) actions at the Linden well were intentional to catastrophically destroy the crime scene," Rinek said. "In my opinion, it's nothing short of a felony. ... This is the most heinous thing I've ever seen."

2015-03-12 | New Orleans filmmaker cleared in cold-case murder; false positive highlights limitations of familial DNA searching
Investigators last year turned to a controversial technique known as familial searching, which seeks to identify the last name of potential suspects through a DNA analysis focusing on the Y chromosome. A promising “partial match” emerged between the semen sample and the genetic profile of Usry’s father, Michael Usry Sr. — a finding that excluded the father but strongly suggested one of his relatives had a hand in the young woman’s murder.

2015-03-12 | Opinions are why 'forensic science' is science
Regardless of the scientific discipline, whether it be DNA, latent fingerprints, or firearm identification, opinions rendered by expert witnesses must always be limited to what the underlying observations and data allow. That is what science is all about. Nothing more. Nothing less.

2015-03-12 | What’s Wrong With DC’s $220 Million Crime Lab?
In March of 2013, the Washington Post released photos, of unpacked boxes, flammable chemicals in glass jugs crammed into sinks, and “general clutter” in the evidence room, and allegations had surfaced that the undermanned staff had to dry blood-stained clothing on sheets of paper on the floors and countertops.

2015-03-10 | D.C. mayor orders audit of crime lab amid dispute over DNA testing
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has commissioned an audit of the city’s new crime lab after forensic experts hired by the U.S. Attorney’s Office said they discovered errors in some of the lab’s DNA analyses, the mayor’s office said Friday.

2015-03-06 | Prosecutors criticize D.C. crime lab’s handling of some DNA evidence
D.C. prosecutors have stopped sending DNA evidence to the city’s new state-of-the-art crime lab after they said they discovered errors in the way analysts determined whether a sample can be linked to a suspect or a victim. Prosecutors have hired two outside DNA experts to review 116 cases, including rapes and homicides, and have been notifying defense attorneys.

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