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Archive for February, 2008

Forensic DNA testing charges “John Doe”

Friday, February 29th, 2008

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In many states, sexual assault crimes are subject to statutes of limitation, which set the timeframe within which an offender can be charged with a crime. Depending on the state in which an assault occurs, statutes of limitation for a sexual assault crime vary greatly.

However, prosecutors in some states such as California, Washington and Ohio have been able to circumvent statutes of limitation, in some cases involving newly-discovered DNA evidence that could lead to the identification of a suspect. By using DNA found on evidence at a crime scene, prosecutors can elude the state’s statute of limitations and consequently bring charges against an unidentified person, essentially charging a DNA profile with a crime until the individual who matches that profile can be located. In other words, if DNA evidence is found at a crime scene even years after the crime was committed, prosecutors in some states can charge an unidentified suspect, or “John Doe”, for the crime that the forensic DNA testing links them to. Wisconsin was the first state to uphold an arrest warrant for an unidentified suspect in October 2000 with the use of forensic identity testing. The idea behind charging an unknown suspect based on his or her DNA profile is to keep statues of limitation from expiring, which would prevent offenders from escaping charges because law enforcement personnel could not identify them within the timeframe set by the statute.

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Law Students in Kentucky Learn about Forensic DNA

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

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Dr. Julie Heinig, Forensic DNA scientist at DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC), returned to college this February, not as a student but as a guest instructor of DNA and Forensic Science at three Kentucky law schools. Dr. Heinig spent two hours at all three schools: Salmon B. Chase School of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Brandeis School of Law at University of Kentucky, and the College of Justice and Safety at Eastern Kentucky University.

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Mike Nifong bankrupt!

Friday, February 15th, 2008

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Mike Nifong, the former District Attorney and lead prosecutor of the failed Duke University Lacrosse rape case, has begun to feel the financial consequences of withholding pertinent forensic DNA evidence from the judge and defense counsel involved in the case.

Mr. Nifong filed for bankruptcy on January 15, citing more than $180 million in liabilities with only $243,000 in assets. The majority of the listed liability comes from civil law suites filed against Nifong from 6 Duke Lacrosse players. The 6 players filed suit against Nifong for potential damages and for causing emotional distress that was a direct result of false accusations surrounding a very controversial sexual assault case.

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Maryland wanting to expand DNA collection laws

Friday, February 15th, 2008

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With expectations of lowering the crime rate, Maryland seeks to be the 12th state to enact a bill that would expand current forensic DNA testing of criminal suspects. The amended law would require suspects that are arrested of a violent crime or burglary to submit a DNA sample to the state’s forensic laboratory. Current state laws only require individuals convicted of a felony and certain misdemeanors to provide a DNA sample to law enforcement officials.

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