This Week in Forensics: The Difference Of a Death Investigation


Wisconsin considers coroner and medical examiner standards, while Minnesota bears an example of the consequence of the absence of those standards. We can’t call it Science Thursday because today’s Friday, but here’s a roundup of the week’s forensics news:

A Wisconsin legislator is working with coroner, medical examiner and hospital associations to

propose legislation

this session that would create professional training standards for coroners and medical examiners.

Minnesota Public Radio tells

the tale of two infants who died while napping

. In one case, the investigation of the child’s death followed state and national guidelines for investigating sudden, unexpected infant deaths, and resulted in an accidental ruling. The investigation of the other child’s death did not follow these guidelines and resulted in a wrongful conviction.

A Florida police department’s

mislabeling error caused a Florida prosecutor to seek retesting in a rape case

.  At trial, jurors were told that the DNA matched the defendant, but the match was actually to the victim’s boyfriend because the technician had switched the names on the envelopes containing the boyfriend’s and the defendant’s DNA samples.  

A Connecticut professor is setting up a national databank that will allow law enforcement to

track marijuana DNA


The Clark County coroner’s office utilizes

a team of forensic odontologists

to identify victims through forensic dentistry and analyze bite marks, a forensic technique that was questioned by a recent National Academy of Sciences report.

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