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

Desperate To Speak: How Emily Blunt Found Her Voice

The actress stars in the new film Into The Woods, in theaters Thursday. On screen she's a natural. But as a kid, she had a stutter so severe she could hardly say her own name.
NPR

A History Lesson On The Philippines, Stuffed In A Christmas Chicken

Rellenong manok is a deboned chicken filled with a jumble of ingredients. If it seems hard to pin down how this dish got all its fillings, it's because of the complexity of the Philippines' culture.
NPR

GOP Sens. Rubio, Paul Square Off Over Cuba Policy Shift

Rubio, appearing on ABC's This Week, lashed out at Paul, who has expressed support for opening trade with the island nation after a decades-long embargo.
NPR

Obama Calls North Korean Hack 'Cybervandalism'

On CNN's State of the Union, the president expanded on earlier remarks he made criticizing a decision by Sony Pictures to pull distribution of The Interview.

Leave a Comment

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