News 09.01.11

Science Thursday

An Indiana woman speaks out about the bad science that led to her arson and murder conviction, a North Carolina attorney critiques SBI laboratory reports, and a study finds the political nature of elected coroners affect suicide rates. Here’s a roundup of this week’s forensics news:

An Indiana woman fighting an arson and murder conviction

speaks out about the outdated fire investigation

techniques that have put her in prison for the last 16 years.

A North Carolina lawyer

writes about how inadequate and unscientific laboratory reports

affected a murder case in Asheboro.


A study by Temple University sociologists

found that jurisdictions where elected officials run death investigations have “slightly lower official suicide rates” than areas served by appointed medical examiners and coroners.  These results support the researchers’ hypothesis that the elected nature of the position makes officials more susceptible to pressure from family or friends to report a death as something other than suicide and that medical examiners’ greater professionalism shields them from such influences.

DNA experts Norah Rudin and Keith Inman

discuss lessons learned

from the Las Vegas Metro DNA sample switch.

Coroners and other medical experts on National Institute of Justice study panel

concluded that the effects of prolonged and repeated stun gun use on the body are not fully understood

and that multiple or lengthy discharges of the weapons can cause injury or death.

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