Science News – May 9, 2013


The Virginia Department of Forensic Science disclosed DNA test results that could lead to more exonerations, a judge will finally determine if evidence from a crime lab in St. Paul is reliable, and Colorado defense lawyers are challenging DNA evidence due to possible contamination. Here is the round-up of news for the week:


In order to investigate the possibility of wrongful convictions,

the Virginia Department of Forensic Science has disclosed DNA test results for over 70 cases where newly tested biological evidence failed to identify the convicted person

. However, two state attorneys are withholding four DNA reports as they are critical to ongoing criminal investigations.


Nearly a year after defense attorneys first challenged drug evidence at the St. Paul crime lab,

a Minnesota judge has allowed final comments and will release an order as quickly as possible

. The drug evidence has been challenged due to possible contamination, lack of protocols and poorly trained personnel.


Colorado defense lawyers are

challenging the admissibility of DNA evidence in the case of Austin Sigg due to possible contamination

. The director of the state crime lab testified in court that a tray with multiple DNA samples showed irregularities in the results.


Researchers from France found a relationship between the speed of an object when it hits a piece of glass and

the number of cracks that result

. While this research could be used by forensic scientists to understand how glass breaks at the scene of the crime, it is only in its basic stages.


After hearing proposals to change how the National Science Foundation (NSF) chooses to fund its research projects, presidential science advisor John Holdren

staunchly defended the peer review process, which is deemed the “gold standard” around the globe

. While Holdren acknowledges Congress can review the process, he believes that the proposed legislation would destroy the basic principle of fundamental research.

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