Science News – July 11, 2013


Colorado defense attorneys worry about sending samples to private labs, an Ohio coroner’s office and crime lab consider sharing lab space, and researchers have developed a computer program that grades the reliability of latent prints. Here’s this week’s wrap up of forensic news:


After a crime lab within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was suspended recently due to alleged bias,

samples are being sent to private labs around the state to avoid a backlog of casework

. However, defense attorneys are voicing concerns about the lack of accreditation in some of these labs.


In Ohio, a local police department and coroner’s office are considering pooling their resources and

creating a new lab where both departments will work

. The union would streamline the process of evidence storage and processing, especially with DNA analysis.


To overcome the difficulties examiners have in determining the quality of fingerprints, researchers at Penn State University have

created a computer program that objectively determines the reliability of fingerprint evidence

. The program grades regions of the latent print to determine if they can be used for analysis or if they are too smudged to be reliable.


Researchers at the University of Virginia have created a portable device that

uses a microchip to analyze DNA

. The technology could have the ability to be modified to identify different DNA sequences as needed, including the potential to analyze crime scene DNA and compare it to databases within minutes.

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