CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 11, 2010 |
The Los Angeles Police Department this week announced that it has made considerable progress in analyzing DNA evidence from thousands of rapes and sexual assaults that had been left untested. Police officials acknowledged, however, the department has more work to do to resolve the DNA backlog. Police Chief Charlie Beck was honored Friday by the California Forensic Science Institute for his efforts on the issue. Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, who, as attorney general, orchestrated the use of new DNA testing in a serial killer case this year, and two others were also honored.
January 26, 2010 |
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a pending challenge to a ruling last year requiring lab technicians and other forensic specialists to be available to testify at trials. In last year's 5-4 decision, the justices said the experts who prepare lab reports are "witnesses" for the prosecution and therefore must be prepared to be cross-examined by the lawyer for the accused. Justice Antonin Scalia said the Constitution gave defendants a right to be "confronted" with all the witnesses against them, including lab technicians.
November 28, 2009 |
Joe Keiper squinted into a microscope and pressed the dead maggot with a pair of surgical forceps to determine how much human flesh the fat white larva had eaten. The forensic entomologist had plucked hundreds of them off a corpse found inside a Cleveland house the day before Halloween. "Understand insects, and you can understand death," said Keiper, a slender, balding scientist of 40. For nine years, Keiper has studied all things creepy-crawly as the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's director of science and curator of invertebrate zoology.
September 21, 2009
With the busiest death chamber in the nation, it was only a matter of time before Texas positioned itself to become the first state to admit that it executed a person who was wrongfully convicted. And now that day is at hand. According to a nationally respected fire engineer, the so-called scientific evidence used to convict Cameron Todd Willingham of setting a blaze that killed his three daughters in 1995 was not scientific at all. In his scathing report to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, Craig Beyler found that the arson investigators on the case had a poor understanding of fire dynamics and based their conclusions on erroneous assumptions, sloppy research and a dash of mysticism.
June 26, 2009 |
The Supreme Court announced Thursday a potentially significant change in how crime lab reports are used in trials, ruling that a defendant has the right to cross-examine in front of the jury the experts who prepared these reports. Crime labs have been subjected to criticism in the last decade, much of it because of DNA evidence that has shown at least 240 prisoners were in fact not guilty.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 14, 2008 |
In June, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas made a bold grab for a crown jewel of local law enforcement: the DNA unit of the sheriff's crime lab. With the lab's director out of town and the sheriff recently deposed by corruption charges, Rackauckas submitted a brief agenda item to county supervisors two business days before their regular meeting. "Our aim is to make significant changes in the way forensic DNA analysis is conducted," Rackauckas wrote. The D.A.'