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August 31st, 2008

DNA Articles

The graphic is from an August 6th article by Kevin Johnson in USA Today called, DNA not kept in half of states.  From the piece:  “Half the states lack requirements to preserve DNA evidence, despite a series of dramatic exonerations based on the critical biological material.”  (After my book I became very interested in the subject of evidence preservation.)

I’ve been setting aside interesting articles and I have a backlog.  Jason Felch and Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles Times did a great series about DNA identification. From a July 20 piece called The verdict is out on DNA profiles:  “…DNA “matches” are not always what they appear to be. Although a person’s genetic makeup is unique, his genetic profile – just a tiny sliver of the full genome – may not be. Siblings often share genetic markers at several locations, and even unrelated people can share some by coincidence.

“No one knows precisely how rare DNA profiles are. The odds presented in court are the FBI‘s best estimates.

“The Arizona search [the subject of the article] was, in effect, the first test of those estimates in a large state database, and the results were surprising, even to some experts …”  

And from an earlier piece (June 17) by Felch and Dolan, California Supreme Court ruling allows ‘rarity’ statistic in DNA cases: “Ruling in a “cold hit” murder case, the California Supreme Court decided Monday that prosecutors may tell juries in all cases of the rarity of finding a defendant’s DNA “match” in the general population even when a database search has increased the likelihood.

“The decision, written by Justice Ming W. Chin, was largely a victory for prosecutors, who favor using the rarity statistic because it often suggests a staggeringly small chance that crime scene evidence would fit a defendant’s genetic profile at random.

“But the state high court also opened the door for the defense to win admission of a second, more conservative calculation in cold hit cases, when a suspect is first identified through a database search …”

I couldn’t decide how to categorize this post so I added a new category called Crime Science.

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