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Entries in DNA (23)

Tuesday
Nov082011

Texas Court Stays Hank Skinner’s Execution

David J. Sams/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas appeals court on Monday stayed Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Henry “Hank” Skinner “pending resolution” of his appeal for further DNA testing.

In a two-page order, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas noted that the state law regarding DNA has recently changed.

“Because the DNA statute has changed, and because some of those changes were because of this case, we find that it would be prudent for this Court to take time to fully review the changes in the statute as they pertain to this case,” according to the order.

Rob Owen, Skinner’s lawyer, issued a statement, saying, “The Court of Criminal Appeals with its decision today has ensured that Mr. Skinner’s request for DNA testing will receive the thorough and serious consideration it deserves.  We are grateful for the Court’s action and look forward to the opportunity to make Mr. Skinner’s case for DNA testing in that forum.”

Skinner hopes that he might one day be found innocent of the death of his girlfriend and her two sons.

Skinner’s girlfriend, Twila Busby, was bludgeoned to death with an axe handle in 1993 and her sons were stabbed.  Skinner was found nearby with his clothes soaked in the victims’ blood.

Skinner claims that he could not have committed the crimes because he was incapacitated by alcohol and codeine.  At his trial, his lawyers chose not to ask for additional testing of knives found at the scene, the axe handle, vaginal swabs, fingernail clippings and additional hair samples.  Skinner was convicted and sentenced to death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct262011

Baby Lisa's Brothers to Provide DNA Sampling

Courtesy the Find Lisa Facebook Page(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Missing Missouri 11-month-old Lisa Irwin's two older brothers, who were in the house the night she disappeared, will submit to interviews with investigators and provide DNA samples.

Child specialists spoke to the boys on Oct. 4, the day after Lisa's disappearance, but investigators have not had access to Lisa's 5 and 8-year-old half-brothers since then.

"This will be the first time we've had a chance to interview them since then," Kansas City Police Officer Darin Snapp told ABC News on Wednesday. "We have not been allowed access to the children until [parents Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin] agreed to bring them in this Friday."

"We are expecting to collect DNA samples," Snapp said. "It will be very non-intrusive, pretty much just a Q-tip swab." Snapp said some DNA samples, currently in a lab, that were collected from the house are labeled "unknown" and they want to use the boys' DNA to eliminate some of the unknown samples.

"We spoke to one for 50 minutes and the other for 30 minutes," Snapp said. "They were woken up very early in the morning and, due to their ages, we didn't want to interview them for too long that day."

Snapp said there will not be any detectives involved in Friday's interviews; they will be conducted by child specialists. Investigators want to "bring them back to see if they remember anything that might be able to help find their younger sister," Snapp said. The boys were reportedly sleeping with Bradley in her bed when Lisa disappeared and may have heard noises in the house.

Tensions between investigators and Lisa's family have continued amid discord about Bradley, 25, and Irwin's, 29, level of cooperation, but police are still intent on interviewing them.

Investigators want Lisa's parents to submit to separate interviews and answer a list of "tough questions” that detectives "need answered."

Kansas City Police Capt. Steve Young made his statement Tuesday as the investigation into the toddler's disappearance entered its fourth week without any suspects or leads to the girl's whereabouts.

Police have received over 975 tips and have cleared almost 800 of those tips.

Baby Lisa has been missing since the night of Oct. 3 and an anonymous benefactor is offering a $100,000 reward for her safe return or the conviction of whoever took the little girl.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct242011

Texas Death Row Inmate Wants Access to Untested DNA

David J. Sams/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas death row inmate who was hours from execution in 2010, now finds himself with two new avenues of appeal to attempt to prove his innocence through DNA testing.

For years since his murder conviction, Henry “Hank” Skinner had unsuccessfully sought access to untested DNA evidence found at the scene of the crime.

Last year, hours before his scheduled execution, a final appeal to the Supreme Court went in Skinner’s favor.  The justices halted the execution and eventually ruled that he could go back to court and argue his case.

The ruling from the Supreme Court, coupled with a new DNA law passed in Texas last month, have given Skinner new hope that he might one day be found innocent of the death of his girlfriend and her two sons.

Skinner’s girlfriend, Twila Busby, was bludgeoned to death with an axe handle in 1993 and her sons were stabbed.  Skinner was found nearby with his clothes soaked in the victims’ blood.

Skinner claims that he could not have committed the crimes because he was incapacitated by alcohol and codeine.  At his trial, his lawyers chose not to ask for additional testing of knives found at the scene, the axe handle, vaginal swabs, fingernail clippings and additional hair samples.  Skinner was convicted and sentenced to death.

While the Supreme Court did not weigh in on his guilt or innocence it said he could go to federal court and attempt to sue state officials under federal civil rights law.

At the same time, Skinner’s lawyers are pursuing a separate appeal in state court.  Just last month, Texas revised its DNA law to ensure that procedural barriers do not prevent prisoners from testing biological evidence that hadn’t been tested.  Skinner’s lawyers have filed papers asking the court, pursuant to the new law, to compel the DNA testing.

But the State of Texas believes that Skinner is abusing the system. In court papers, Jonathan F. Mitchell, the Solicitor General of Texas, argues that at the time of his trial Skinner’s original attorneys made an “informed, tactical” decision to forego the testing because they feared it would further implicate their client.  Mitchell notes that Skinner was convicted on an “overwhelming evidence of guilt” tied to physical evidence as well as his own statements.

Mitchell argues that if the state allowed Skinner access to the materials he initially declined to test, it would set a dangerous precedent.

On Monday, the parties will appear in federal court to address the changes in Skinner’ case and the fact that a new date for his execution -- Nov. 9 -- is quickly approaching.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug062011

Ted Bundy DNA Sample Uploaded to Database for Cold Cases

Comstock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Twenty-two years ago notorious serial killer Ted Bundy took his last breath in a Florida electric chair. Now his DNA may play a pivotal role in cracking some unsolved murders.

Bundy's full DNA profile were uploaded to the national CODIS (Combined DNA Index system) database Friday, where it will exist along with the DNA profiles of 10 million other convicted offenders.

"We have been trying to get a complete profile since early 2000 but we have never been successful until now," said David Coffman, Chief of Forensic Services for the Tallahassee Regional Crime Lab.

Bundy committed at least 30 murders, but he was always coy about how many women he actually killed and is suspected in dozens, even hundreds more murders. That's why cold case investigators across the country have been so anxious to be able to match their evidence against Bundy's DNA.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's DNA Found on Maid's Uniform

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- DNA belonging to Dominique Strauss-Kahn was found on the uniform worn by the hotel chambermaid who has accused the former head of the IMF of sexually assaulting her in his Manhattan hotel suite, investigators said Monday.

Soon after the 32-year-old maid reported the alleged assault on May 14, police took her uniform into evidence and searched the room for traces of Strauss-Kahn's DNA. Investigators ripped up a swath of carpet where the maid spit after she was allegedly forced to perform oral sex. They also used a black light to search of traces of DNA in a bathroom sink.

Strauss-Kahn's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, has previously suggested that DNA evidence would prove the encounter that allegedly took place in Strauss-Kahn's $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel Hotel was consensual.

"The forensic evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter," Brafman said.

Investigators did not reveal the type of DNA that was found on the maid's uniform and whether it was Strauss-Kahn's sperm.

Strauss-Kahn Friday was released from jail on $1 million bail and remanded to house arrest in an apartment owned by the private security firm Stroz Friedberg. Under the conditions of his bail, the firm will keep the French politician and economist under 24-hour surveillance.

Last Wednesday, Strauss-Khan resigned his post as chief of the International Monetary Fund, the body that oversees international monetary markets.

"I deny in the strongest possible terms the allegations which I now face; I am confident that the truth will come out and I will be exonerated," Strauss-Kahn wrote in an email to his former colleagues, which was confirmed authentic by ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Osama Bin Laden: Officials to Release More Info on DNA Match, Intel

AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: A U.S. official tells ABC news that plans have changed, and that the information will not be released Friday, as was previously planned. The source notes that the information is still expected to be released, possibly over the weekend or early next week.

(WASHINGTON) -- The public will learn more Friday about the way officials identified the corpse of Osama bin Laden, as well as other information gleaned from the trove of data taken from the compound, ABC News has learned.

After Navy SEALs took photographs of bin Laden, CIA officials used facial recognition analysis to confirm that the man SEALs shot was in fact bin Laden. DNA samples matched those of bin Laden's relatives with 99.9 percent certainty.

President Obama decided against releasing photographs of bin Laden, fearing their graphic and gruesome nature could be inflammatory and put Americans at risk.

The government will also release more information from the computers seized in the raid on bin Laden's compound. On Thursday, ABC News reported on evidence of discussions about targeting U.S. rail lines and a possible attack marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

White House to Release Photo of Osama Bin Laden Tuesday?

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and White House officials are discussing the possibility of releasing a photograph of Osama bin Laden's corpse Tuesday, a top source tells ABC News.

The photograph, according to sources who have seen it, is bloody and gruesome, with a bullet wound to his head above his left eye.

There are concerns its release could be inflammatory, though officials also say it's important to put to rest any skepticism about the death of this nation's public enemy number one.

Officials said Monday they are "99.9 percent" certain that bin Laden was shot dead in Pakistan.  They cited CIA photo analysis matching physical features, such as bin Laden's well above-average height.  A U.S. intelligence official also told ABC News that bin Laden's DNA was compared with DNA from several of his relatives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Osama Bin Laden Dead: Where's the Proof?

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As elated crowds celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden after Navy SEALs killed the al Qaeda chief in a weekend raid in Pakistan, some are asking, "Where's the proof?"

Photos depicting a bloodied and bruised face appearing to be that of bin Laden began appearing on Twitter and Facebook Sunday night soon after news of his death spread across the Internet.  But that image was later proved to be fake.  Now, people are asking to see the evidence proving bin Laden is dead.

"We have released a tremendous amount of information to date," Obama's top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said.  "At the same time we don't want to do anything that is going to compromise our ability to be as successful the next time one of these guys needs to be taken off the battlefield."

As for releasing photographs of a dead bin Laden, Brennan said that is "something to be determined."  But he added they're going to do everything they can to prevent denials of bin Laden's death.

In the president's speech Sunday night, he avoided any mention of DNA or photographic evidence.  But on Monday, officials in the Obama administration told ABC News "There's no doubt it's him."

Officials said Monday they are "99.9 percent" certain that bin Laden was shot dead in Pakistan.  They also cited CIA photo analysis matching physical features, such as bin Laden's well above-average height.

Any pictures of bin Laden would undoubtedly be gruesome, one of the reasons why the White House hasn't made them public.  But the photos might be released in modified form, just as they were in July 2003 when the U.S. government released photographs of Saddam Hussein's dead sons Uday and Qusay Hussein, but only after they had been touched up by a mortician.

A U.S. intelligence official also told ABC News that bin Laden's DNA was compared with DNA from several of his relatives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar072011

Alleged ‘East Coast Rapist’ to Cops: What Took You So Long?

Federal Bureau of Investigation(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- The man accused of raping 17 women in four states over a dozen years asked the police, "Why haven't you picked me up sooner?"

Aaron Thomas, 39, made his first court appearance in a Connecticut court Monday as police departments along the East Coast closed 12 years of cold cases and celebrated the mix of old-fashioned investigative work and modern technology that led to his arrest.

Police said that Thomas' DNA positively connects him to a dozen rapes and sexual assaults attributed to the so-called "East Coast Rapist." He was arrested Friday in New Haven, Conn.

Thomas appeared in court wearing a tan shirt, black ball cap and sunglasses. His wrists and ankles were shackled and he was surrounded by five marshals. He kept his head down through the hearing and never spoke.

Prosecutors said Thomas displayed a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality when it came to women and told the court he confessed to the rapes following his arrest.

Neither Thomas nor his lawyer entered a plea on his behalf. Bond was set at $1 million in the sex assault case and an additional $500,000 bond set for an extradition case.

Thomas, who is accused of violently attacking women and girls with a variety of weapons in Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, tried to hang himself Saturday in his jail cell hours after his arrest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar052011

'East Coast Rapist' Captured in Connecticut

Federal Bureau of Investigation(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Officials say that DNA from a man arrested in Connecticut on Friday confirms that he is the "East Coast Rapist" who has been terrorizing women with sexual assaults from Virginia to Rhode Island for more than 12 years.

Aaron Thomas, 39, was arrested by New Haven police for first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor, and he is being held on $1 million bond, according to Lt. Julie Johnson.

At a press conference Saturday, officials praised the decade-spanning efforts of police to capture Thomas, which were stepped up early this week with a new website and billboard ad campaign.

Lt. Julie Johnson said DNA was collected and subsequently matched by the state police forensic lab confirming Thomas was the "East Coast Rapist."

In Prince William County, Virginia authorities are charging him with being a fugitive from justice as well as rape and abduction. His most recent alleged crimes took place in October of 2009, when three girls coming home from trick-or-treating were abducted and two were raped.

Authorities say he stalked and studies his victims, apparently attacking them in neighborhoods he knows well. He knows when they are most vulnerable, like when they are home alone with their children or when they failed to lock windows or doors, investigators say.

According to the New Haven Register, Thomas was caught after authorities trailed him for several days, having received a tip about a man who had a court appearance this past Thursday on an unrelated matter. Waiting for an opportunity to grab a sample of his DNA, authorities were able to obtain a cigarette butt Thomas discarded.

The "East Coast Rapist" is wanted for 17 rapes and other attacks in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia since 1997.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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