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!
The mystery of the 1983 disappearance of the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee took yet another twist Saturday following excavations this week at a Vatican City cemetery. The Vatican said it had discovered two sets of bones under a stone slab that will be formally opened next week.
Multiple studies have warned about the reliability of voice evidence in criminal cases. For example, one recent study concluded that the way such evidence is used in trials is inconsistent with scientific research and needs to be revised.
Other studies have found that while there are a number of legal requirements around the use of eyewitness testimonies in trials, voice identification testimony has not been sufficiently scrutinised.
The human genome can tell us where we’ve come from, and it’s hiding more than a few surprises. Now researchers from the University of Adelaide have found evidence of two unknown, archaic human species in modern DNA.
To help crime labs ensure that their DNA profiling is accurate, NIST produces a human DNA standard. Becky Steffen, a forensic DNA scientist at NIST, has been working to prepare the latest version of this standard, which was released last week. In this Q&A, Steffen describes the standard and explains why it’s so important.
Many different fields of forensics have come under attack in recent years, including blood-spatter analysis, hair-fiber analysis, ballistics testing and fingerprint analysis. Even outside of forensics, there has long been research showing that eyewitness testimony is far less reliable than most people think, and that juries give it far too much consideration. A skeptic might wonder: What, other than single-source DNA testing, can be used in a criminal trial?
On Wednesday, after decades of proclaiming his innocence and claiming his confession was coerced, Tapp was finally exonerated due to the novel DNA technique of genetic genealogy, which was used to find identify a new suspect in Dodge’s murder.
Michael Robinson’s hopes of putting on an NYPD uniform were destroyed in 1993 when he was convicted of the murder of his estranged wife. On Wednesday, after serving 26 years for the killing he swears he didn’t commit, he faces a critical hearing in Queens Supreme Court on DNA evidence that may clear his name.
The charges stem from a Nov. 1 report of a sexual assault involving an acquaintance at Rodriguez’s home. The investigation led to the discovery of a second sexual assault in August 2015, in which officials say Rodriguez also was involved. Prosecutors say that attack occurred under similar conditions. Both incidents occurred while Rodriguez was off-duty, police say .
Rodriguez was identified through a combined DNA index system, or a “cold hit” DNA match, authorities said.
He spent 23 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Now, a Milwaukee man is finally getting justice for a conviction based on flawed evidence. His long-awaited day in court came amid a national effort to put forensic science on trial.