Recent advances in technology have helped us preserve the innocence of some criminal suspects. For example, DNA collection and analysis serves as a powerful tool for convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent.
According to the National Institute of Justice, 1/10 of 1 percent of DNA differs from individual to individual. Therefore, scientists use variable regions to generate a DNA profile of a person. To do so, analysts use blood, bone, hair and other body samples.
In criminal cases, investigators obtain samples of DNA evidence from the crime scene and a suspect and analyze samples for a set of specific DNA regions or markers. If the DNA evidence and suspect's sample do not match, in some cases, this may relieve a defendant of criminal liability. DNA evidence from a crime scene can also be analyzed against profiles stored in a database.
This DNA technology is becoming more common in criminal investigations. For example, authorities from Winnebago County are hoping advancements in DNA testing can solve a 50-year-old murder case.
The case dates back to 1963, where a man was stabbed 53 times at a gas station on U.S. Highway 41. Investigators had narrowed in on suspects, but DNA testing was not available during that time.
Now, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office will send relevant evidence, including dried blood from the scene, to the state's crime lab for DNA testing. The hope is that the appropriate suspect is linked to the crime.
DNA Testing: Wisconsin
At one time, adequate DNA testing required a quarter-size to a half dollar-size sample of blood. Today, however, a smaller sample can be used for tests. This helps preserve important evidence.
The forensic and offender databases have grown as the quality of testing has improved. According to The Republic, there are approximately 160,000 names in Wisconsin's data bank and roughly 10 million names nationwide. In fact, experts note that approximately 40 percent of every 1,000 names stored in a data bank will result in a match in the forensic database. The information is relevant to all crimes, including murders.
DNA evidence can be crucial to a crime. While it opens many doors, it also closes them. The information helps protect individuals and ensure that the wrong suspect is not convicted of a crime. DNA is helping authorities uncover the truth.
While DNA testing is extremely important, it is crucial to remember that this method, alone, is not going to relieve a suspect from criminal scrutiny. It takes a solid case preparation for a strong criminal defense. If you are interested in learning more about DNA evidence in relation to your criminal case, contact an experienced criminal law attorney.