DA to reopen 2000 closed cases in Broward County with DNA errors

Two years ago, Boynton Beach forensic expert Tiffany Roy was hired to double-check DNA evidence swabbed from a knife handle. What she found was troubling: The Broward Sheriff’s Office crime lab had mistakenly claimed it was conclusive.

It wasn’t.

As New Times previously reported, Roy complained to the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, which investigated and agreed with her findings.

Now, the crime lab faces revocation of its accreditation, and the Broward State Attorney’s Office will likely have to reopen thousands of closed cases.

Read more at Broward New Times

PCAST Report Final Issued

Report on Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods

On September 20, 2016, PCAST released a Report to the President on Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison


Broward County Crime Lab DNA Mixture Problems

In March 2015, prosecutors temporarily stopped sending evidence to what was then a state-of-the-art city forensics lab in Washington, DC, over concerns technicians had bungled cases and misstated the likelihood DNA had been left at a crime scene. Earlier this month, the crime lab for the entire city of Austin, Texas, was shut down amid concern its technicians weren't following proper procedure. Both events amounted to earthquakes in the criminal-justice world: Crime labs are responsible for handling nearly every piece of physical evidence. They need to be accurate.

Now, according to an independent forensics analyst, the very same DNA issues have struck the scandal-plagued Broward Sheriff's Office Crime Lab. The place is just now recovering from allegations a former drug analyst potentially tainted thousands of separate cases.

read more here

DNA Evidence Is Not Infallible

Earlier this month, the Texas Forensic Science Commission raised concerns about the accuracy of the statistical interpretation of DNA evidence, and it is now checking whether convictions going back more than a decade are safe.

Despite how it is often portrayed, in the media and in courts, the forensic science of DNA is far from infallible. Particularly concerning is that police and prosecutors now frequently talk of 'touch DNA' — genetic profiles of suspects and offenders that have been generated in a laboratory from just a handful of skin cells left behind in a fingerprint.

Research done by me and others at the University of Indianapolis in Indiana has highlighted how unreliable this kind of evidence can be. We have found that it is relatively straightforward for an innocent person's DNA to be inadvertently transferred to surfaces that he or she has never come into contact with. This could place people at crime scenes that they had never visited or link them to weapons they had never handled.

Such transfer could also dilute the statistics generated from DNA evidence, and thereby render strong genetic evidence almost insignificant. (The statistics issue is reportedly the focus of the Texas investigation.)

read more at: http://www.nature.com/news/forensic-dna-evidence-is-not-infallible-1.18654?


DNA Mixture Interpretation and the Law

DNA mixtures

Recent developments in the Texas criminal justice system may point towards the necessity of, once again, looking back at convictions because of DNA. This time however, the issue is not the certainty which DNA can provide a jury that other evidence cannot. Rather, the issue centers around the recent changes in interpretation guidelines for mixtures, and the extent to which convictions based on the previous methods of calculating results were misleading to juries. This issue may be much more problematic for criminal justice systems to deal with then the first time DNA gave us reason to look backwards. But deal with it they must.

Read more  here



LED lights reduce the PCR cycle time

New technology developed by UC Berkeley bioengineers promises to make a workhorse lab tool cheaper, more portable and many times faster by accelerating the heating and cooling of genetic samples with the switch of a light.

This turbocharged thermal cycling, described in a paper published in the journal Light: Science & Application, greatly expands the clinical and research applications of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, with results ready in minutes instead of an hour or more.

read more at : http://www.forensicmag.com/news/2015/08/heating-and-cooling-light-leads-ultrafast-dna-diagnostics

DNA Double Helix

DNA on Pizza Crust led police to Suspect

Authorities searched a Maryland home overnight in the investigation of a deadly mansion murder, going through the trash and removing bags of evidence -- but in the end it was a piece of pizza crust that could lead to the suspect's arrest.

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, was identified on Wednesday as the key suspect in the quadruple slaying and arson attack in Northwest, a section of Washington, D.C. A court issued an arrest warrant for Wint with “murder one while armed,” authorities said.

Two sources familiar with the case told ABC News that DNA found on the crust of a Domino's pizza that had been delivered to the house led authorities to identify Wint as the suspect.

Read more at ABC dot com.


SelectaDNA makes debut at TN Subway Sub Location

A Subway franchise in Knoxville, Tenn. is the first US business to arm itself with “intruder spray,” which tags would-be robbers with a product called SelectaDNA. According to the manufacturer, the solution contains “a unique DNA code which can be used to uniquely mark and trace both items of property and criminals.”

SelectaDNA’s US distributor, Johan Larsen, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the system is already being used in Australia and Europe. Successfully, at least according to company claims.

Anyone bold enough to ignore warning signs and break into (or bust out of) the sandwich shop will be coated in a fine mist of synthetic DNA. The spray is “traceable for weeks” and is “only visible with a glow under ultraviolet light,”

Read more at: http://truecrime.io9.com/restaurant-installs-intruder-spray-to-tag-burglars-wi-1703737555