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Study of Victim Experiences of Wrongful Conviction

January 16, 2014 4:17 pm | by Seri Irazola, Erin Williamson, Julie Stricker and Emily Niedzwiecki, NIJ | Comments

The findings from this study highlight the impact of wrongful convictions on victims and the lack of adequate services for this population as well as the need for additional research to ascertain how victim experiences differ with regard to demographics, types of crime, and the factors associated with wrongful conviction and subsequent exoneration.

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Blanket DNA is Key in 1974 Slaying

January 16, 2014 2:13 pm | by Ryan Foley, Associated Press | Comments

Decades after a teenage girl was beaten and shot to death in a rural Iowa farmhouse, DNA testing on a blanket provided the evidence that investigators needed to finally charge a man who had been the prime suspect all along, a prosecutor told jurors.

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Review of Alaska Crime Lab's Drug Testing Includes Criminal Investigation

January 16, 2014 10:06 am | by Casey Grove, Anchorage Daily News | Comments

Alaska authorities are conducting a review of the state crime lab's handling of drug samples that includes a criminal investigation by Alaska State Troopers. According to the Department of Public Safety, staff at the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage have discovered problems with the lab's control samples of six illegal drugs: morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, opium, codeine, and amphetamine.

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DNA Test to be Done after NJ Casket Had Wrong Body

January 15, 2014 4:46 pm | by Erika Niedowski, Associated Press | Comments

The daughter of a New Jersey woman whose casket contained the wrong body says that DNA tests will be performed to determine if her mother was accidentally cremated in Canada.                     

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A2LA Gains NDIS Procedures Board Approval

January 15, 2014 3:03 pm | by A2LA | Comments

On January 13, 2014, the National DNA Index System (NDIS) Procedures Board approved the designation of the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) as an accrediting agency under the Federal DNA Identification Act (42 U.S.C. §14132).

Bad Directions Blamed for Denver Police DNA Errors

January 15, 2014 1:52 pm | by Sadie Gurman, The Denver Post | Comments

The scrambling of DNA samples from 11 Denver police burglary cases — which led prosecutors to dismiss charges against four people — was the result of faulty instructions from the manufacturer of a DNA-matching machine, police officials say.

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Biomarkers Leave Gender Clues at Crime Scene

January 15, 2014 1:42 pm | by Kirsty Muirhead, Chemistry World | Comments

Scientists in the US have unveiled details of a colorimetric assay that could provide an initial indication of a suspect’s gender during the on-scene stages of a forensic investigation.                   

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OPSL Rises to Challenge of US Army Forensic Work in Afghanistan

January 15, 2014 1:29 pm | by John Wallace, Laser Focus World | Comments

While the use of laser-guided ordnance for military use is generally well-publicized, lasers — in the form of green-emitting optically pumped semiconductor lasers (OPSLs) — have also proven their military value as light sources for forensic work. This work is performed at crime/terror sites and mobile labs in Afghanistan, as well as in military labs in the U.S.

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Court Weighs Police Role in Coercing Confessions

January 15, 2014 9:58 am | by James McKinley Jr., The New York Times | Comments

New York State’s highest court heard arguments in two murder cases on Tuesday that plumbed the question of how far the police can go in lying to suspects during interrogations — even to the point of telling suspects a dead victim is still alive, but might survive if they confess to precise details of the crime.

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Twin DNA test, Identical Criminals May No Longer be Safe

January 15, 2014 9:30 am | by Alison Gee, BBC | Comments

It's well known that identical twins are not totally identical — they can, usually, be told apart, after all. But up to now it has been almost impossible to distinguish their DNA. It's claimed that a new test can do it quickly and affordably, however — and this could help police solve a number of crimes.

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Staffing Issues Delay Evidence Testing in FDLE Crime Labs

January 14, 2014 3:54 pm | by Fox30 Jax | Comments

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, loss of staff is causing a significant delay in evidence processing that could potentially help solve hit-and-run cases in the area.                 

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Statistical Examination of Handwriting Characteristics Using Automated Tools

January 14, 2014 3:48 pm | by Sargur Srihari, NIJ | Comments

This project sought to develop probabilistic models for several of the steps in the Questioned Document handwriting examination process, with a particular focus on handwriting characteristics. Experiments were based on a threshold and Gaussian model.

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CT Scans Could Bolster Forensic Database to ID Unidentified Remains

January 14, 2014 1:13 pm | by Matt Shipman, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

A study finds that data from CT scans can be incorporated into a growing forensic database to help determine the ancestry and sex of unidentified remains. The finding may also have clinical applications for craniofacial surgeons.     

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$6.3M Settlement for Man in Prison 25 Years

January 14, 2014 11:18 am | by Art Golab, Chicago Sun-Times | Comments

A man who spent 25 years behind bars for a rape he did not commit is the latest wrongfully convicted ex-prisoner to collect a multimillion dollar settlement from the City of Chicago. The City Council Finance Committee authorized $6,375,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Larry Gillard, alleging the police crime lab distorted evidence in his case.

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Hair Analysis: The Root of the Evidence Problem

January 14, 2014 10:55 am | by Jordan Smith, The Austin Chronicle | Comments

The Texas Forensic Science Commission voted unanimously last week to move forward with a first-in-the-nation review of state criminal convictions that included testimony on microscopic hair analysis — a field of forensics deemed unreliable in a sweeping 2009 report on the state of forensics by the National Academy of Sciences.

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