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PART II DNA--Crime Scenes to Courtrooms

The effects and programs of contemporary DNA forensic science and law

Joshua Thurmond

on 13 August 2014

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Transcript of PART II DNA--Crime Scenes to Courtrooms

Crime Scene to Courtroom

Our team went to the UK in 2006:
Obtained their familial search protocol and studied their program.
Tried to convince the FBI to research a familial search program for the US.
Worked with the California AG to change the state’s policy to allow familial searching and sharing this information with law enforcement.
Searched all unknowns against Denver’s DNA database.
Used a familial search software.
In five separate cases there was a 90% chance that two individuals were related.
Y-STR DNA testing showed that the individuals had the same Y-STR type.
The search showed that there was a 90% chance that a DNA profile in an unsolved burglary came from a male offspring of a known sample.
The father was in the DNA database for a 2002 aggravated assault.
Y-STR DNA types matched.
Developed a Familial Search Software Program.

Total cost = $50,000 (including the purchase of a dedicated laptop).


Familial Search Policy
Persuaded the Colorado Department of Public Safety and
the Attorney General to develop a Familial Search Policy and
worked with them to create it.
Presented this policy to the Governor and leaders in the legislature.
The Details:
85% of CODIS matches are obtained within same state.

No statute was necessary.

Was “developed keeping privacy concerns in mind, while at the same time providing information that may be useful in solving a violent offense and prevent potential victimization.”

Applies to arrestee and convicted offender databases.

Absent exigent circumstances, contacting family members/relatives should be the last resort in this type of investigation.

First obtain information via public and/or law enforcement authorized databases before contacting these individuals.
Conducted a search of all forensic unknowns against the Colorado DNA database (about 2,000 against 80,000).

Used our familial search software program.
$2,500 per search - assuming 20 Y-STR follow up tests (includes personnel costs and Y-STR testing reagents).

$7,000 per search - assuming 200 Y-STR follow up tests (includes personnel costs and Y-STR testing reagents).

This does not include the cost of any follow up investigation.
Denver DNA Database Familial Searches:
First Conviction in the US
A 90% chance that the DNA profile from a car break-in and a DNA profile in the local DNA database from a convicted car thief were from brothers.

Y-STR DNA types matched.

A conventional investigation led to the car thief’s brother and a warrant was obtained for the brother’s DNA.
The brother’s DNA matched the DNA from the crime scene.

Jaimes-Tinajero was charged with two car break-ins and pled guilty.

This is the first conviction in the United States where the results from a familial search software program aided in solving a crime.
Luis Jaimes-Tinajero
Car Thief
Mitch Morrissey
Cost to the Lab of a Familial Search and Y-STR Testing
Reached Out to 28 Jurisdictions Across the US!
On ten separate occasions we successfully identified the individual who left DNA at a crime scene.

Denver District Attorney
Inherited Genetic Material:
Unique to an individual - except identical twins.
Present in every cell - except RBCs.
Consistent throughout an individual.
28 states have some form of the law.
Any person arrested for a federal crime is subject to DNA sampling under the Violence Against Women law of 2006.
Denver Familial Search Project
Familial Searching in the U.K.
In Great Britain, Familial DNA intelligence packages have been produced for 122 specific serious crime investigations.
In 28% of the cases there was a relative on the list (32 out of 122).
In Great Britain, Familial DNA intelligence packages
have been produced for 210 specific
serious crime investigations.
In 19% of the cases there was a
relative on the list (40 out of 210).
Familial DNA Searches in the U.K.
Get Ready for Rapid DNA

Rapid DNA technology automates an otherwise multi-step process that requires specialized expertise and a laboratory to deliver results in less than 90 minutes using a self-contained system.
Rapid DNA analysis enables law enforcement to quickly and definitively identify suspects while they are still in custody.
Watch Your Step! DNA From Dog Feces Used in Triple Homicide Case
He really stepped in it...
DNA from dog feces found on the sidewalk of the house where the killings occurred matched DNA in the dog feces on Stroud’s shoes.

The chance of randomly finding another dog having the same DNA was a one in 10 billion.

Deployed two dogs as weapons to attack the victim before he repeatedly stabbed and beat to the victim to death.

One dog, who was owned by Johnson, left a blood trail when he and his owner ran away from the scene. When police arrested Johnson, his victim's blood was on his hands and there was also blood from his dog on his body.

Saliva from the other dog was discovered on torn clothing found at the crime scene. DNA from both dogs was used as evidence and a dog DNA database was used to show that the probability of seeing the same DNA in another dog is less than one in a billion.

Johnson was found guilty of murder.
Chrisdian Johnson
Cat’s DNA Helps Solve Murder
A woman was murdered and buried in a shallow grave.

Her blood stained jacket was found with several white cat hairs on it.

Her killer lived with his parents and a cat called Snowball.

DNA from the hairs on the jacket matched Snowball.
RCMP found a homicide victim’s DNA in 3 dead mosquitoes.

This was evidence that the victim was killed in the apartment where the mosquitoes were found.
Mounties Use DNA
Thousands of detective hours were used running down leads.
Over 240 innocent men were exonerated by DNA.
He pled guilty to all counts and was sentenced to 120 years in DOC.
6 rapes, 5 kidnappings, 3 robberies, 1 burglary, and 3 attempted rapes could have been prevented.
Michael Lollis
Results from Katie’s Law from November 2010 to March 2013
If the state had required him to give a DNA sample for his felony forgery arrest from 2004.
Over 600 hits Statewide - a 40% Hit Rate

Denver- 230 DNA hits
35 to sexual assaults
4 to murders - 2 resulting in First Degree Murder convictions.
Misdemeanor DNA Law
They take DNA upon misdemeanor conviction.

30% of the DNA hits in 2012 came from misdemeanor convictions.

In 5½ years since petit larceny has been a DNA eligible offense, DNA samples taken from those convicted offenders has helped solve 965 crimes, including 51 murders, 222 sexual assaults, 117 robberies and 407 burglaries.

4 rapists who were linked to 5 rapes after convictions for failing to pay subway fares.

There are 4,788 unsolved cases in the Colorado state DNA database with no hit.

In 2012, there were 42,727 defendants convicted of misdemeanor offenses in Colorado.

If the law required DNA collection upon misdemeanor conviction more crimes would be solved.

Results of a Denver Study - had Colorado required DNA upon misdemeanor conviction at the time that 4 sexual predators were at large - 13 violent crimes, including 3 murders and 6 sexual assaults, would have been prevented.
Look to New York
The Effects of DNA Databases on Crime
by Jennifer L. Doleac (December 2012)

In 2010, 761,609 offender profiles were uploaded to CODIS.

At $40 apiece, this cost the state and federal governments approximately $30.5 million, but saved $21 billion by preventing new crimes.

DNA databases reduce crime rates, especially in categories where forensic evidence is likely to be collected at the scene (murder, rape, and assault)

The marginal cost of preventing crime suggests that DNA databases are more cost-effective than other common law enforcement tool.
89 serious crimes including murders, rapes, child abandoments and kidnappings have been solved because of familial DNA searches.
Plant DNA Links Murderer to Crime Scene
Mark Alan Bogan charged with 1st degree murder of Denise Johnson

Witness saw Bogan's truck near scene

Police found Bogan's fathers' pager in area

Police found two palo verde pods in the bed of truck

Pods matched pods at scene
Maryland vs. Alonzo Jay King Jr.
Alonzo King was arrested in Maryland for assault in April 2009.

Police collected a DNA sample from him using a cheek swab upon arrest.

King's sample hit in CODIS to a 2003 sex assault.

The US Supreme Court ruled that taking DNA upon arrest was constitutional and not a 4th Amendment violation.
A Familial Search Leads to a Rape Conviction after 22 Years
A 1989 rape went unsolved until 2011.
The rapist was not on the UK DNA database but his son was.
The results of a familial search lead investigators to the father.
Saint's DNA sample was obtained and matched the DNA from the rape.
Cases solved

15 Murders
53 Rapes
4 Offenses relating to child abandonment
2 Abductions
7 Armed robberies
1 Assault Great Bodily Injury
1 Burglary
1 Concealment of birth
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