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Forensic Science

January 11, 2007 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Police Department has a logjam of more than 5,000 rape kits that have not undergone forensic analysis because of a lack of DNA-testing resources, a leading advocate for rape victims told a state commission Wednesday. "Every day, there are citizens in our state ... who are being sexually assaulted and otherwise victimized when they don't have to be.
February 11, 2004 | Charles Piller, Times Staff Writer
A scientific report released Tuesday revealed serious flaws in FBI testimony involving evidence on the chemical composition of bullets presented in hundreds of criminal cases. The report stopped short of condemning the forensic method outright, but it proposed changes in how the bureau portrayed bullet-lead evidence that would significantly undercut the technique's usefulness in a criminal trial, forensic science experts said.
An FBI forensics expert testified Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court that hair fibers found in the house where U.S. drug agent Enrique Camarena was murdered matched hair samples taken from defendant Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros' head after his arrest. Matta is one of four men being tried in Camarena's abduction and murder. Matta, 45, contends that he was not at the house in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the agent was interrogated and killed in February, 1985.
May 28, 2006 | Julie Bykowicz, Baltimore Sun
The FBI is no longer analyzing gunshot residue in its investigations, a blow to the once-highly regarded evidence used to suggest that a suspected criminal had fired a weapon. Lawyers, scientists and law enforcement officials across the country said that they were astonished by the decision and that it could sound the death knell for the evidence. It also could become a weapon for defense lawyers in pending cases and in efforts to overturn convictions.
December 9, 2008 | Sarah Weinman, Weinman writes the Dark Passages column at
Patricia Cornwell's name comes with more than a whiff of myth and expectation. Almost every woman writing thrillers with extreme violence gets compared to Cornwell's bestselling work featuring forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta. Interviews focus less on the books and more on Cornwell's Armani suits, personal security concerns or her obsession with solving the Jack the Ripper murders.
A few years ago, when deoxyribonucleic acid was the latest and hottest tongue-twister to hit the forensic community, Keith Inman recalls that there might have been a single session on the topic at the annual forensics convention.
May 16, 2004 | Wayne Parry, Associated Press Writer
Near the tennis courts at Centenary College, a student is itching to set something on fire, and only too happy to oblige when asked to toss a lighted match into a plastic garbage can filled with newspaper. A thin wisp of smoke appears after a few seconds and flames curl lazily upward. Another trash pail, this one filled with paper doused in gasoline, is set ablaze.
January 26, 1989 | STEVEN R. CHURM, Times Staff Writer
Bone fragments found near the desert campsite where Laura Bradbury was last seen more than four years ago apparently are the remains of the missing Huntington Beach child, authorities said for the first time Wednesday. Acknowledging that a sophisticated DNA analysis, known as "genetic fingerprinting," had been performed on the skull fragments, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said that the genetic composition of the fragments was "consistent with Laura Bradbury."
November 23, 1987 | JANNY SCOTT, Times Staff Writer
Several small patches of dried blood and the esoteric techniques used to decipher the blood's genetic secrets have become a hotly disputed issue in the high-profile murder case against former California Highway Patrol Officer Craig Peyer. The prosecution hopes to use as evidence in Peyer's upcoming trial blood stains found on a sweat shirt and boot worn by murder victim Cara Knott--stains that prosecutors say their analyses will show are unlikely to have come from anyone other than Peyer.
November 13, 1997 | From Times Wire Services
DNA evidence, used for years to bolster criminal cases, now is technologically advanced enough to specifically identify murderers, rapists and other criminals, the FBI said Wednesday. The improvement in technology has spawned a change in FBI policy that has already helped convict a Wisconsin rapist, even though he had four alibi witnesses that distanced him from the crime, FBI officials said at a news conference.
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