Sum it Up! #45

grass lawn cut into a mazeSum it Up! #45 is all about forensics. As we near the end of 2013, think back to some crimes that captured the world. In 1918, the Romanov family was butchered. Since we did not immediately find all family members’ remains speculation about survival endured and imposters contributed to the mystery. Until we found two more skeletons. Of course, doubt existed but DNA gave the last answer.

I found this article in about a different crime but it certainly captured the world. If Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered today, what would have been done differently? Answer: a lot! John Paolucci describes in five steps the differences in investigations between 1995 and 2013. A huge reason is of course the better knowledge among the public about forensics and DNA.

The task at hand for both the prosecution and the defense was “Education” –They had to educate the jury about DNA’s significance as a biometric identifier.  The jury needed to understand and accept that a DNA profile developed from a crime scene sample can have the likelihood of one in so many million (over a trillion today) that it was deposited by a person other than the defendant.”

The article gives you a good overview of what was possible then and what we know now. What a 2013 jury would decide now remains guessing but I think that the glove act would not impress them anymore!

A man who was imprisoned for nearly two decades for a 1994 murder had his conviction overturned last Monday after a successful challenge to bite-mark evidence, the primary evidence against him at trial. The Innocence Project was involved. Testing of the bite mark revealed DNA from an unidentified man.

Gerard Richardson was granted his release on $5,000 bail, though he won’t be freed for a few days. The Somerset County prosecutor’s office allowed Richardson’s release, even though it has not dismissed the charges against him.”

Bite-mark evidence has been criticized by defense attorneys as unreliable and an example of “junk science.” A 2013 analysis by The Associated Press found that at least two dozen men charged with or convicted of rape or murder based on bite-mark evidence since 2000 had been exonerated, including some who had spent more than 10 years in prison. Proponents of the method say it’s been used to convict violent criminals such as serial killer Ted Bundy.”

Also fingerprinting was in the news the past few days. Improper comparison, neglecting warning signs from technicians, and much more has led to people being in custody. Kindly note that if you read this article, it isn’t the science of fingerprinting that caused the wrongful arrest of unwarranted custody. The human beings handling the evidence made the mistakes.

Bones .. don’t label them. Don’t get anything acidic near them. It changes the chemistry, eats away the minerals that will then soften the bones and change the speed of decomposition. This is a video you must see. It is from the Chemical Heritage Foundation and you can follow them on Twitter for the latest! In the video, you will also hear how CSI evolved. The Scottish Burke & Hare murders are touched on as well.

Last, two treats (no tricks) coming up for my blog readers. On December 6, Sue Carney and I will explore the Alfred Moore case during #CrimeChat, 12-1pm EST. Author Steve Lawson will make his book about this case available for free in PDF format for my readers. A special Halloween treat will be posted tomorrow.