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Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

HPD’s good, bad, and ugly

The good news is that the testing of backlogged rape kits has led to the identification of a serial rapist in Houston. Houston police on Tuesday for the first time identified a criminal suspect – a possible serial rapist – from testing of sexual assault kits that once gathered dust in the police property room. […]

More details on the rape kit backlog results

HPD reports to Council about the progress of testing done on the backlogged rape kits. No false arrests by Houston police have been uncovered during an ongoing $4.4 million testing of thousands of old rape kits, but new suspects have been developed with DNA, leading to an undisclosed number of arrests, police commanders told City […]

Not just DNA

There are a lot of other exonerations that happen around the country, for crimes major and minor, that don’t involve DNA. In September 2006, [Corey] Love was charged by Houston police with possession of between one and four grams of cocaine, a felony. He was 20 years old and indigent. He had two choices when […]

Clearing the rape kit backlog is producing results

Very promising results. Private forensic laboratories hired to clear the Houston Police Department’s untested DNA evidence – including a decades-old rape kit backlog – have identified potential offenders in a third of the cases where sufficient DNA samples were found, according to a HPD report. [...] Since the HPD lab resumed operations about six years […]

Who shot Bigfoot?

The correct answer is “no one”, since Bigfoot doesn’t exist and all that, but this guy claims to have done it. Nearly a year ago a self-described professional Bigfoot hunter claimed to have shot and killed one of the creatures in San Antonio. The alleged incident was featured in a documentary released last year that […]

We need a Conviction Integrity Unit in Harris County

From the DMN: Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has gained a national reputation for spearheading prisoner exonerations. As he prepares to seek a third term, Watkins said Thursday he wants to expand on that role and add a few others. … Watkins, a Democrat who was first elected in 2006, gained attention for using […]

Yeah, that’s still not Bigfoot

You can’t fool the SciGuy, y’all. Bigfoot is smarter than humans. Bigfoot roams from the Arctic to the equator. Bigfoot has a sixth sense. And most importantly, Bigfoot is very, very, very, very real. That was the message Tuesday from group of lay researchers who made the rather audacious claims at a sparsely attended news […]

Interview with Anthony Robinson

If you’ve followed the news at all in Texas over the past decade or so you’re familiar with the large number of convicted inmates who have been subsequently freed after being exonerated by DNA evidence. That’s the story of District D candidate Anthony Robinson, who was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit in 1986, […]

Rape kit backlog eliminated

More good news. For the first time in its history, the Houston Police Department doesn’t have a backlog of rape kits that haven’t been tested. The backlog, which at one point totalled 6,600 untested rape kits, was eliminated by sending the kits to outside labs, Chief Charles McClelland said. “There is no backlog regarding DNA […]

What’s the difference between a rock and a fossilized Bigfoot skull?

Less than you might think, apparently. Todd May, of Ogden, dropped by the offices of the Standard-Examiner to see if someone would be interested in a story about a fairly impressive fossil find. After showing off a couple of digital photos, May offered six even more compelling words — “Do you want to see it?” […]

Where does the crime lab go from here?

Now that there’s a plan in place to clear the longstanding crime lab backlog, the question is what should we expect from the crime lab going forward? “It’s sort of hard to build a house when you’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole,” said Scott Hochberg, chairman of the Houston Forensic Science Local […]

What to expect from clearing the rape kit backlog

As you know, two weeks ago Mayor Parker announced that the city would allocate funds to clear the backlog of rape kits, thus bringing to a conclusions one of the city’s longest-standing issues. City Council has now unanimously approved the plan, in which out of state labs will provide the analyses. What was fascinating to […]

Bigfoot DNA update

I apologize for being so remiss in reporting on this. As you may recall last November there was a bit of a to-do about a Texas geneticist from Nacogdoches, Melba Ketchum, who claimed to have sequenced DNA from a Bigfoot. That’s quite a feat considering this a creature that does not exist in the real […]

Clearing the rape kit backlog

Some excellent news from the Mayor’s office. Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Police Department today announced details of a plan that will eliminate the backlog of untested sexual assault kits (SAK). Under the plan, which will be formally considered by Houston City Council next week, the untested kits will be sent to two outside […]

Court of inquiry concludes

The court of inquiry that was examining the behavior of then-prosecutor Ken Anderson has concluded with Anderson’s testimony in his defense. Having seen what he had to say for himself, I find myself not terribly sympathetic to him or his situation. At times fighting back tears, Anderson called Morton’s case his “worst nightmare” but defended […]

The court of inquiry

Going on this week is a court of inquiry in the matter of Williamson County Judge Ken Anderson, who was the District Attorney that won a conviction against Michael Morton for the murder of his wife, Christine, which as we know has since been overturned after DNA evidence cleared him and implicated another man. The […]

In praise of CODIS

We’re catching more crooks thanks to DNA. Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, but it’s always nice to have some numbers. The number of Texas crimes solved after a suspect’s DNA matched with offenders’ DNA samples stored in the national repository known as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) recently passed the 10,000th mark. The state averaged […]

Recreating a Galapagos tortoise?

How amazing would this be? Lonesome George, the late reptile prince of the Galapagos Islands, may be dead, but scientists now say he may not be the last giant tortoise of his species after all. Researchers say they may be able to resurrect the Pinta Island subspecies by launching a cross-breeding program with 17 other […]

So you say you have Bigfoot DNA

I have one thing to say about this. A team of scientists can verify that their 5-year long DNA study, currently under peer-review, confirms the existence of a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” living in North America. Researchers’ extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that […]

Got any Bigfoot DNA?

Please send it to Oxford if you do. In a project announced this week, Oxford University and Lausanne Museum of Zoology scientists appealed to museums, scientists and Yeti aficionados to share hair samples thought to be from the mythical ape-like creature. New genetic tests will be done on just a few strands of hair and […]

Why better eyewitness ID procedures matter

Because bad eyewitness ID procedures can lead to the wrong people being executed. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, stopped short of claiming Texas wrongfully executed suspect Carlos DeLuna for the February 1983 murder of store clerk Wanda Lopez. Gallego, however, said the way Corpus Christi police handled the suspect’s identification […]

“Open letter to Williamson County”

John Raley is the attorney who worked for years to exonerate Michael Morton on the charge of murdering his wife in 1987. The key to the case was a bloody bandana, which DNA testing showed belonged to the real killer. Williamson County DA John Bradley fought against allowing the DNA test to proceed at every […]

Solving car crimes with DNA

This story is basically a commercial for Harris County’s crime lab – Did you know that since they have no testing backlog on personal crime cases they can focus on property crimes? It’s true! – but it’s still pretty cool. For the last few years, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences aided area law […]

County approves building new forensics lab

The Institute of Forensic Sciences is getting a new home. Commissioners Court on Tuesday gave staff the go-ahead to finalize a land deal with the Texas Medical Center that would give the county 2.79 acres at the northeast corner of Old Spanish Trail and Bertner. The deal would require construction to begin on the new […]

“Beyond DNA”

The Dallas Observer has a good story about the state of the exoneration business now that most of the cases involving DNA have been handled. Since Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins took office in 2007, incidents of wrongfully convicted men being released from Texas prisons have become almost commonplace. Dramatic scenes of innocent men […]

It’s a long way to Damascus

The Trib has a good story about Williamson County DA John Bradley, whom you may recall as Rick Perry’s chief hatchet man on the Forensic Science Commission, and his apparent conversion to open-mindedness in the wake of the DNA exoneration of Michael Morton, who was convicted of murdering his wife in 1987 by Bradley’s predecessor […]

Doggy DNA detectives

I love so many things about this story. Here’s the scoop: Some apartment complexes are using DNA testing on dog doo to find out who’s not cleaning up after their pets. The Timberwood Commons in Lebanon, N.H., opened this year and already has had problems with some residents who aren’t cleaning up messes their dogs […]

One good thing that can be said about this session

A fair number of innocence-related bills have been passed this session. Some of them might have been passed in 2009 had it not been for the voter ID-killing chubfest, for others it was just that the stars finally aligned. Grits and Dave Mann have the details. Hopefully, the voices in Rick Perry’s head are not […]

Senate approves rape kit testing bill

Earlier this week I mentioned a bill, SB1636, by Sen. Wendy Davis that aimed at getting thousands of untested rape kits analyzed. I’m pleased to say that it was passed unanimously by the Senate today, and now heads to the House. SB 1636 by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would require a police department […]

Two forensic bills

Texas has thousands of untested rape kits in it, and a bill to try to make something happen with them. The bill, by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would require a police department to submit a rape kit to a crime lab within at least 10 days, and complete the DNA analysis no later than […]

Eyewitness ID bills advance

Grits: Sen. Rodney Ellis’ eyewitness ID bill passed out of committee unanimously, with an an inconsequential cleanup amendment from Sen. Joan Huffman, just as Chairman Pete Gallego’s companion bill passed out of House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee last week. Since that legislation two years ago died because of time as opposed to any vocal opposition (and […]

Keeping track of innocence-related bills

From Grits: The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has posted an agenda which includes three important pieces of innocence legislation carried by Chairman Pete Gallego: HB 215 Relating to photograph and live lineup identification procedures in criminal cases. HB 219 Relating to the electronic recording and admissibility of certain custodial interrogations. HB 220 Relating to procedures […]

Ellis’ innocence bills

As he has done for the past several sessions, State Sen. Rodney Ellis has introduced numerous bills that will address issues of wrongful convictions and criminal justice procedures designed to help prevent them from happening. Ellis is proposing an “Innocence Protection Package,” four bills aimed at decreasing the number of wrongful convictions in Texas. Rep. […]

An answer in the Claude Jones case

Back in June, I noted the case of Claude Jones, who had been executed in 2000 for a murder committed in 1990. The main piece of evidence used to convict him was a single strand of hair that a forensic expert who examined it under a microscope testified belonged to Jones. It was not subjected […]