Virginia To Perform Familial DNA Testing In Criminal Cases | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Virginia To Perform Familial DNA Testing In Criminal Cases

Play associated audio

The technology will be used as a last resort, police say -- and even defense attorneys may embrace the approach.

Law enforcement officials estimate the testing could increase the number of suspects identified through DNA by 40 percent.

The DNA found at a crime scene is cross-referenced with profiles already in a database. But instead of matching the suspect, whose DNA may not be on file, it may match that of a parent, child, or sibling whose DNA is on file.

Richmond defense attorney Steve Benjamin says just as he supports using DNA to exonerate the innocent, this tool can be used to develop a lead -- but not to determine guilt by association.

"It uses DNA to give the police investigative leads. That's all," he says. "It's not evidence."

Some believe the case of a Virginia Tech student murdered after leaving a concert could benefit from this testing. Morgan Harrington disappeared in 2009 after leaving a concert in Charlottesville; police found her body several months later. There has been no arrest in the case.

Members of Virginia's Forensic Science Board stress that the familial DNA testing would not be used in every case -- just when all other leads are exhausted.

NPR

The Other Rock History

What makes an essential rock song? Musicologist Greil Marcus argues that it's not the stature of the performer, but the degree to which a song tells the story of rock 'n' roll itself.
NPR

Can Oxfam Nudge Big Food Companies To Do Right?

Oxfam is scoring the 10 biggest food companies on a scale of 1 to 10 on a host of issues, from worker rights to climate change. But will promises translate into concrete changes?
NPR

Rick Perry's Legal Trouble: The Line Between Influence And Coercion

The Texas governor is charged with abuse of office and coercing a public official, but he claims he was just doing what governors do: Vetoing a budget item.
NPR

New GoPro Camera Harness Captures Dog's-Eye View

This past week, the camera maker GoPro unveiled the Fetch harness, which allows people to attach the durable cameras to their dogs. The company was inspired by some DIY efforts at pet videography.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.