The following article shows yet another source for DNA to solve a crime. What was the source of the DNA in your case?
Dandruff Costs British Career Criminal His Freedom The Associated Press 11-23-2004
A veteran British criminal received the longest prison sentence of his career Monday, after being caught because of the dandruff he had left behind at the scene of an armed robbery.
Using a DNA profiling method, investigators identified Andrew Pearson as a suspect by examining 25 flakes of dandruff found in a stocking he had worn as a mask during the robbery 11 years ago.
Pearson's two accomplices in the crime remain at large.
Andrew Pearson, now 40, and the two other men escaped with $70,630 in cash after raiding a caravan company in the northeastern city of Hull in June 1993.
Pearson -- who had 76 previous convictions for crimes such as burglary, assault and robbery -- was only arrested in June for the caravan crime after the relatively new DNA procedure matched his dandruff with a swab of his saliva.
Using that evidence, a jury needed only 75 minutes Monday to convict Pearson of robbery and possession of a firearm. Judge Michael Murphy then sentenced him to 12 years for the robbery and a consecutive three years for possessing a firearm.
During the crime, prosecutors said, Pearson and his accomplices -- armed with two guns and a baseball bat -- held five staff members at the caravan company, one of whom was wounded by a gunshot.
The criminals fled the scene in a car that was later abandoned nearby. Part of the stocking Pearson had used as a mask was found by police, who removed the dandruff and kept it as evidence.
Tim, Speaking as a native Englishman who got to the US as soon as he could--socialism is very advanced in Britain. Further, as we all know, it is much easier to criticize someone else than do it right ourselves.
15 years does seem an appallingly short sentence, but then I would think a stay in any American penal institution would be preferable to some of those dungeon-like prisons in the UK. After Liam Neeson's role in a movie several years ago (the title escapes me) several people have made comments to me about the awful conditions in British prisons. Maybe that goes some way to correcting the apparent mischief.
We had an attempted capital murder case involving a 14-year-old a couple of years ago in which the prime evidence we had to link the defendant to the rifle used was DNA from a swab of the hammer of the weapon. Unbelievably, DNA was still present even after the rifle sat in a street drain for about a week. While we didn't get the astronomical results one likes to see in DNA cases, it was enough to be persuasive that our guy was the actor and helped to corroborate the eyewitness identification (which was good, but not great). So, we ask our officers to swab everything in important cases.
It sounds like something off of CSI. I, myself, am kept on the straight and narrow by the idea that if I were to commit a crime, I would undoubtedly carry cat hair on my clothes to the crime scene, then the CSI crew could trace the cat hair to my cat through mitochondrial DNA.
Posts: 515 | Location: austin, tx, usa | Registered: July 02, 2001
Jane, I attended a NCDA lecture in 1997 with the speaker being George "Woody" Clark of the San Diego DA's office. He presented some case studies, not only of his involvement in the OJ case, where he was brought in by LADA's as dna guru, but of one that involved dna extracted from cat hair found on murder victim and later linked to defendant's animal and of another that involved a rare seed pod found only on one canadian island.
I read about a case out of Arizona where the prosecutor linked the defendant to the rape/murder victim by using DNA from tree leaves found in the bed of his pickup. The DNA from those leaves matched the DNA from leaves of a tree found near the victim. According to the report, without the DNA, they would not have been able to link him to the murder scene. I believe it was the first case using plant DNA to establish a defendant was at the scene of the crime.
Posts: 674 | Location: Austin, Texas, United States | Registered: March 28, 2001
I've seen a couple of really good ones on HBO's Autopsy series. One involved a fatal collision in which the police were struggling to prove that the owner of the offending vehicle was actually the one driving at the time. As I recall, the offending driver had to crawl over the dying youngsters from the other car to flee the scene, so the crime was especially nasty. They examined the airbag and found a hair complete with root on it. Of course, it matched the owner of the vehicle, and his hair couldn't have been on the airbag unless he were there when it deployed. They got 'im.
Another involved a Canadian doctor who had drugged and raped a woman, but a blood test exonerated him. She was certain he had done it, and she hired a private investigator to gather evidence. The investigator went to the doctor's unlocked car and swiped the doctor's used Chapstick on an envelope, creating a DNA sample. This sample matched the rapist's DNA, so a second blood test was performed. When blood was drawn from the doctor, the technician commented that the blood looked "wrong" and "old". A third blood test was performed. At this test, I believe, it was discovered that for the earier blood tests, the doctor had sealed a short piece of surgical tubing at both ends, filled it with another patient's blood, and then surgically implanted the tube into his own arm so that the tech would draw blood that wasn't his. Of course, tests of his own blood matched that of the rapist.
Autopsy is a great show, and it's more about detective science than actual autopsies. Dr. Michael Baden, the examiner who appears most often, is a genius.
Posts: 41 | Location: 47th District | Registered: June 04, 2004
I love to hear people say Dr. Baden is a genius. I've never watched that show but I hope a lot of people do. Baden is going to be a witness for me in a murder case next February. He is also very impressive in person.
Posts: 283 | Location: Montague, Texas, USA | Registered: January 26, 2001
All this romance with forensic evidence can cut the other way. CSI and the like entertainment cause the jury pool to believe invisible mountains of evidence await the diligent investigator. We all know that in many cases the exotic evidence is not there. Even when we do have probative forensics there is always one more method of recovery untried, one more exotic test undone or another piece of trace material ignored.
The tests exist, yes, and we thank the almighty, but opportunity cost and the law of diminishing returns still obtain. The defense lawyer, however, argues that the "vast resources of the state" should be expended to the nth degree in the pursuit of justice for this citizen whose freedom hangs in the balance. We, as stewards of the public money must always make a judgment call that we have "enough" and stop the testing. Will the juries come to expect and demand this state-of-the-art investigation and punish our injured parties for the lack?
[This message was edited by BLeonard on 11-30-04 at .]
Posts: 723 | Location: Fort Worth, TX, USA | Registered: July 30, 2002
I have become concerned about this, as well. Example: Had a jury in a dope lab case hang up a few months back, even though the defendant's FINGERPRINT was on the lab. Why? Well, shouldn't there have been more prints? Why was there only one? This was actually one of the few cases in my career where we actually HAD a fingerprint and the jury thought there should have been more. We have to be more careful to anti-CSI the jury these days. Some of them have come to expect too much and I think it is dangerous not to identify those jurors during voir dire.
Posts: 283 | Location: Montague, Texas, USA | Registered: January 26, 2001