Category Archives: DNA Testing

Oakland County To Expand Crime Lab, Bypassing State Lab

From freep.com

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is considering expanding the county’s crime lab to include DNA testing, avoiding state DNA test result delays that at times stretch six to nine months.

“The State Police do a great job; they have fantastic crime labs,” Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Major Robert Smith said this morning, speaking on behalf of Sheriff Michael Bouchard. “But we know in the past several years, the workload they’re asked to handle has been ever-increasing. And with the closure of the Detroit lab, that has only exasperated or compounded that workload and situation.”

Bouchard is expected to talk about the proposed expansion at a press conference today announcing accreditation of the crime lab. The Oakland County facility will be the first lab in the state to win accreditation from the American Society of Crime Lab Directors.

Oakland County’s crime lab currently employs 17 people, operating with a $1.8 million budget, said lab director Kent Gardner.

Gardner, retired director of the Michigan State Police’s Bridgeport Forensic Science Laboratory, where he worked for 22 years, said the move could alleviate some of the time lag in results from the state’s three labs in Bridgeport, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

“Typically, like for homicides — they have a high priority — usually in a week or two they get the results back,” he said today. “With others, it could take six to nine months.”

Gardner said the cost to begin DNA testing varies depending on whether current facilities are renovated or the county builds something new.

On the low end, it could cost about $200,000 to add a minimum of two or three people, $300,000 to $350,000 for equipment and about $50,000 a year for supplies, he said. The high end could stretch to more than $3 million.

Gardner said the plan could take nearly a year to implement.

In 2010, the lab processed just under 30,000 toxicology and drug evidence cases, along with 280 firearms, 820 fingerprints and 151 crime scenes, he said.

The city of Detroit closed its scandal-plagued crime lab near Brush Park in 2008, adding to the workload of the state’s labs.

The Free Press reported in May that items were left behind in the old, unsecured crime lab, including live ammunition, and paperwork containing Social Security numbers. Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr., the assistant chief when the lab closed, took responsibility for not ensuring the building was emptied. The Michigan State Police is conducting an independent probe into the situation.

 

If you have questions about the evidence in your case contact Daniel Ambrose at 248-624-5500 or visit our website for more info www.ambroselawgroup.com

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Man Who Spent 30 Years Behind Bars Proven Innocent

From CNN.com

A Texas man imprisoned 30 years ago on rape and murder charges had his conviction overturned on Tuesday after DNA evidence exonerated him.

Dallas County Judge Don Adams overturned Cornelius Dupree Jr.’s conviction Tuesday, clearing his name officially.

“It’s a joy to be free,” Dupree, 51, said outside court.

Dupree has served more years in a Texas prison for a crime he did not commit than anyone else in the state who was later exonerated by DNA evidence. Only two other people exonerated by DNA have spent more time in prison in the entire country, the Innocence Project said. Texas has freed 41 wrongly convicted prisoners because of DNA testing since 2001, more than any other state.

Dupree told CNN after becoming a free man that he had “mixed emotions” about the hearing considering how long he had been incarcerated.

“I must admit there is a bit of anger, but there is also joy, and the joy overrides the anger,” he told CNN. “I’m just so overwhelmed with the joy of being free.”

The judge’s decision followed comments from Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who said the DNA testing shows Dupree “did not commit this crime.”

Dupree is trying not to be too angry, despite having 30 years of his life taken away.

“I think that could have happened to anyone,” he told CNN. “It’s just unfortunate that it happened to me. The system needs to be corrected somehow.”

That system he refers to includes Dallas specifically, where a record 21 people have been exonerated on DNA evidence, and Texas as a whole.

“Cornelius Dupree spent the prime of his life behind bars because of mistaken identification that probably would have been avoided if the best practices now used in Dallas had been employed,” Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, said in a press release. “Let us never forget that, as in the heartbreaking case of Cornelius Dupree, a staggering 75% of wrongful convictions of people later cleared by DNA evidence resulted from misidentifications.”

Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project, told CNN “an enormous number” of the wrongly accused people convicted in Dallas and around the country were convicted on the basis of mistaken witness identification.

But she said that big improvements in those procedures have been made “so that what happened to Mr. Dupree doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Morrison attributed Dupree’s exoneration also to the work of the district attorney who has been examining previous convictions closely – and to Dallas County’s saving of evidence.

“Dallas has been a leader in saving evidence,” she said, noting that even though the policy was evidence had to be saved from cases from 1981 and later, evidence from Dupree’s case in 1979 still existed.

“So it was something of a small miracle” that it was preserved, she said.

Watkins, the district attorney, said there were really no standards in place about how to keep evidence, but when he came into office he made it his job to do whatever he could to “not just to seek convictions but to seek justice.”

“We created a unit that specifically looked at claims of innocence,” he said. “And unfortunately it shows people who made those claims were truly innocent.”

Watkins works with Morrison and others at the Innocence Project now, hoping to right wrongs from the past, and bring trust back to a system that has been brought into question.

“It gives us credibility now,” he said. “[Residents] actually believe in what we’re doing, that we’re here not just to seek convictions but to seek justice and seek the truth.”

Dupree was paroled six months ago after DNA tests results came back. He was declared innocent on Monday, the Innocence Project said.

Dupree was accused of being one of two men who forced a 26-year-old woman and another male into a car at gunpoint in 1979, forcing them to drive the car and robbing them in the process, according to court documents. The two men also were accused of raping the female, court documents said.

The female initially identified Dupree from a photo line-up, but the male was unable to do so, according to court documents. At trial, however, both victims said Dupree and his co-defendant Anthony Massingill were the ones who committed the crime. They were convicted, and Dupree was sentenced to 75 years. Massingill, who is also serving time for a separate rape charge, is expected to also have his conviction set aside, the Innocence Project said.

Dupree has been fighting for his innocence since the day he was arrested, and for years following his conviction claiming he was mistakenly identified as the suspect. The Court of Criminal Appeals turned him down three times.

“Mistaken identification has always plagued the criminal justice system, but great strides have been made in the last three decades to understand the problem and come up with fixes like those being considered by the state Legislature that help minimize wrongful convictions,” Morrison said in a press release. “We hope state lawmakers take note of the terrible miscarriage of justice suffered by Cornelius. When the wrong person is convicted of a crime, the real perpetrator goes free, harming everyone.”

Stories like this hit home hard for us.  It reminds me of what Reginald and Christopher Bohanen went through and what they are still going through.  I believe the court system works most of the time, but for the people who it fails the consequences are catastrophic.

View our posts on DNA evidence! http://ambrosecriminallawblog.com/category/dna-testing/

Holly@ambroselawgroup.com

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Three Ways Police Can Legally Obtain Your DNA Without Your Consent

If you find yourself in a situation where a police officer asks you for your DNA, you have the legal right to say “no.”  However, there are a few ways police can legally obtain your DNA without your consent.

  • Collecting it off of anything you throw away or leave behind

If you have read my previous blog, CSI- IT’S ONLY A TV SHOW, you know that not everything you see on CSI shows is true.  However, you know that typical scene on the shows where the cops are interviewing the suspect and the guy drinks out of the styrofoam cup (that the cops gave him) and then throws it away and they pull a “gotcha” moment?  Yeah, they can definitely do that.

  • Conviction of a Crime Where Law Requires DNA Test

Depending on what state you live in, and what crime you have been convicted of, you may be required to take a DNA test and have your results submitted to CODIS .  These crimes can range from certain misdemeanors all the way up to violent felonies. To find out what Michigan’s qualifying offenses are, click here

  • Search Warrant

Last but not least, their is the notorious search warrant.  This is the most common method used and the method people are most familiar with. Once police have a warrant you must comply with there DNA request

If you have a question about DNA or forensic evidence used in your case contact Ambrose Law Group at (248) 624-5500

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North Carolina’s Corrupted Crime Lab

A damning state report finds systematic abuse, including death penalty cases.

The SBI crime lab scandal is only the most recent story of forensics malfeasance.

In recent years there have been forensics scandals in VirginiaMarylandMississippiOklahomaNebraskaCalifornia,MichiganTexas, and at the FBI.

Read the full story here

Wrongful convictions based on false forensic evidence put the entire credibility of the field in jeopardy.  Stories of people sentenced to death row based on false DNA evidence make great movie plots but harsh reality.

If you have been charged with a crime and have questions on Forensic Evidence being used in your case call Ambrose Law Group at (248) 624-5500

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DNA Testing Links Calif. Man to “Offensive Material” (Really) in Woman’s Water Bottle

This is anything but your typical DNA evidence case.

Michael Kevin Lallana (Orange County District Attorney's Office)

Prosecutors say they used DNA testing to connect Michael Kevin Lallana, a 31-year-old employee of a financial firm, to a rude, lewd crime — putting an “offensive material” into a female co-worker’s water bottle.

So you don’t have to guess – that offensive material, they say, was semen, according to CBS affiliate KCAL.

See the full story here

If you questions on DNA evidence in your case call Ambrose Law Group at 248-624-5500

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CSI… It’s Only A T.V. Show

Crime scene investigation shows, like CSI or NCIS, depict DNA profiling as a quick and easy process.  Some people get really into theseForensic Evidence types of shows but when they encounter forensics in real life, they are often let down by how complicated the science can be.  A forensic scientist cannot just put blood into a machine and then watch as seconds later a suspect pops up on the screen in front of them.  In real life, it can take months before scientists get any results from DNA testing.

Crime scene investigation shows effect jurors’, victims’, and criminals’ perceptions of forensic science.  Jurors expect scientific evidence to be present in cases. Victims get frustrated because of the length of time it takes to gather and test the crime scene evidence.  Police all over the country have stated that criminals seem to be getting “smarter” when it comes to not leaving evidence behind.  This whole phenomenon has been dubbed the “CSI Effect.”  Do you think the “CSI Effect” has lead to unexpected jury verdicts?  Why?

Ambrose Law Group

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