After 27 Years, Judge Overturns Rape Conviction

A Dane County judge on Friday overturned the rape conviction of a man who has served 27 years in prison largely on the strength of a single hair after the FBI admitted its analyst’s conclusion tying Richard Beranek to that hair was flawed.DNA testing has confirmed that neither the hair nor semen found in the perpetrator’s underwear left at the scene of the sexual assault matched Beranek, according to Beranek’s motion for a new trial.

The shifting science of DNA in the courtroom

(CNN)This summer marks 30 years since one of the biggest advances in criminal investigations, DNA profiling, identified a killer.
Every cell within every living creature contains DNA material. That material carries instructions that dictate everything from how tall you’ll be to what diseases you may develop, and it’s unique to you. Forensic scientists can find it in biological material left on a crime scene or body, like hair, saliva or even skin tissue.

Murder Case Highlights Importance Of Conviction Review

On Thursday, Hartford Judge Julia D. Dewey vacated the conviction of Alfred Swinton for the murder of Carla Terry in 1991 and ordered a new trial. Swinton was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.
What makes the judge’s decision unusual is that it was supported by State’s Attorney Gail Hardy. The decision is the result, in part, of the increased sophistication of DNA testing in recent years. But it also reflects the willingness of prosecutors in Connecticut to undertake what amounts to a conviction integrity review when presented with substantial evidence of a possible wrongful conviction.

Evidence in Gardner Museum thefts that might bear DNA is missing

The trail had been cold for years when the FBI announced in 2010 that it had sent crime scene evidence from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to its lab for retesting, hoping advances in DNA analysis would identify the thieves who stole $500 million worth of masterpieces.
But behind the scenes, federal investigators searching for a break in the world’s largest art theft were stymied by another mystery. The duct tape and handcuffs that the thieves had used to restrain the museum’s two security guards — evidence that might, even 27 years after the crime, retain traces of DNA — had disappeared.

Jeff Sessions’ Rejection of Science Leaves Local Prosecutors in the Dark

There’s a stack of file folders on District Attorney John Hummel’s desk that won’t stop staring at him. The folders contain the cases of defendants whose convictions were called into question when a state crime lab technician in Bend, Oregon, part of Hummel’s district, was caught tampering with evidence in 2015. The breach may have impacted more than 1,100 cases. Hummel’s office has been steadily reviewing them ever since—of the 500 cases that have been reviewed so far, 30 convictions have been vacated and those cases dismissed.

NIST and the FBI invite you to the second International Symposium on Forensic Science Error Management

NIST and the FBI invite you to the second International Symposium on Forensic Science Error Management, where speakers, panels, posters, and workshops will address ways to detect, measure, and mitigate forensic science errors. This symposium promises an eye-opening, candid appraisal of root causes and possible solutions while providing a forum for open dialog about this sensitive topic.
Register Here!

Pooler gifts land, approves plans for new GBI crime lab

Officials in Pooler this week turned over land and signed off on plans for a new regional crime laboratory for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.City Council members in the west Chatham city voted unanimously Monday to approve site plans for the new GBI campus — a combined 66,000-square-foot facility comprised of a three-story forensic crime lab and a one-story morgue.

Specialist international team to perform DNA analysis on Tuam Babies grave in west of Ireland

A SPECIALIST team will be brought in to perform DNA analysis on the remains found in the mass grave at the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam.
The bodies of 796 young children and babies were found in 2012 on the old grounds of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co. Galway.

Pennsylvania bill would expand DNA law

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation to expand the state’s DNA database.
State Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) said his proposal would permit the taking of DNA samples from people convicted of serious misdemeanors.
The current database, with few exceptions, includes only those convicted of felonies. Marsico said that allows people who committed serious unsolved crime to “fly below the radar.”

Epigenetics and Forensics

In the future, it may be possible to create a profile of a criminal suspect from a drop of blood that provides details of their age, diet, smoking status, the drugs they have consumed, the polluted environment they live in, and even if they have a traumatic history of abuse.

Michael Capuzzo will give the keynote address at this year’s International Symposium on Human Identification.

Capuzzo is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, The Murder Room, the story of forensic psychologist and consulting detective Richard Walter, “the living Sherlock Holmes,” and the Vidocq Society of Philadelphia. The Murder Room was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, was shortlisted for the 2011 Gold Dagger Award for Non-fiction by the British Crime Writer’s Association in London, and is currently under development in Hollywood by The Mark Gordon Company (Criminal Minds) for a CBS Television Studios series.We asked Michael for some details on his experience with the Vidocq Society.

State says it will do DNA tests on 274 Green Bay rape kits; testing could begin next week

GREEN BAY – An email that appeared in a detective’s mailbox last week brought good news for the city’s sexual-assault victims — and the police who work on their behalf.
The missive brought news Green Bay police had been awaiting for weeks: They could finally send more than 200 rape-evidence kits to a Madison laboratory for testing.

Mummy DNA unravels ancient Egyptians’ ancestry

The tombs of ancient Egypt have yielded golden collars and ivory bracelets, but another treasure — human DNA — has proved elusive. Now, scientists have captured sweeping genomic information from Egyptian mummies. It reveals that mummies were closely related to ancient Middle Easterners, hinting that northern Africans might have different genetic roots from people south of the Sahara desert.

Falklands War: Experts bid to identify Argentine dead

Work will start later this month on identifying the bodies of unknown Argentine soldiers in the Falklands.
The International Committee of the Red Cross will take DNA samples from 123 graves in Darwin cemetery, which will be compared with those of relatives.

Governor Signs Bills That Help Law Enforcement Build Cases

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana prosecutors participated today in the signing by Governor Eric Holcomb of two bills that are considered essential to law enforcement’s ability to build criminal cases for conviction of wrongdoers.
SEA 322 requires every person arrested for a felony to submit a DNA sample. DNA collection is a powerful criminal justice tool that can exonerate the innocent and provide identification of the guilty. A long list of sponsors supported the bill, including Sen. Erin Houchin, Rep. Wendy McNamara, Rep. Patrick Bauer, Sen. Randy Head, Rep. Donna Schaibley and Sen. Jack Sandlin.