No one has hours to scour the papers to keep up with the latest news, so we’ve curated the top news stories in the field of Forensic Science for this week. Here’s what you need to know to get out the door!
Starting late the night of March 28, Margaret Press and Colleen Fitzpatrick took the highly-degraded incomplete DNA profile, and started combing a public genealogical database. Within a short time, they had a staggering hit: a first cousin once removed.
Like any defense lawyer, Matthew Speredelozzi wants to know how San Diego prosecutors concluded that his client’s DNA was found on a blood-stained pair of gloves not far from a murder scene.
But his efforts to do so have touched off a legal skirmish between the defense lawyer, the San Diego Police crime lab, the District Attorney’s Office and a private company that developed a new DNA analysis technique that is on the forefront of forensic science.
The results showed that, as DNA sensitivity has grown by leaps and bounds, interpretation of those tiny clues has not kept pace. But those results were reached five years ago—and the study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. NIST says they have pushed out the results to other experts at major forensic conferences in the ensuing years—and now plan to submit a full paper to a major journal by the end of this month.
Critics say that justice has been deferred by the years-long delay, potentially landing untold numbers of people in prison based off faulty DNA mixture interpretation methods. Some experts said they were unaware of the potentially fortune-reversing findings—and others said the results were turned aside by judges because there was no official publication of the findings.
Over the last few years, a series of new findings have made great contributions to the area of “temporal forensics”, some of which could vastly improve our understanding of what happens to our bodies after we die.
Dr Soren Blau, Senior Forensic Anthropologist at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, explains what it’s like to study human remains in a forensic setting. Hint, it’s a lot less glamorous than the way it’s portrayed in the television series Bones.