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March 24, 2010

One More Reason to Trust DNA Evidence in Court

Posted by The MaryHunter at March 24, 2010 9:06 AM


PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. -- A judge on Tuesday convicted a top crime scene investigator of evidence tampering, after prosecutors argued that the investigator planted blood from a slaying victim in a car linked to two innocent suspects to bolster the case against them.
Cass County District Judge Randall Rehmeier said he didn't believe Douglas County CSI director David Kofoed's excuse that the victim's blood ended up in the car because of a sloppy mistake. Rehmeier said there was enough evidence to show that Kofoed intentionally planted fake evidence.

Sure, this could have been just a rogue CSI chief trying to completely ruin the lives of some innocents for who knows what motive. Or, it could have been another crime, in another jurisdiction, with a much more competent CSI agent, operating under instructions from Big Government to squelch enemies of the State. Sounds ludicrous? Think again.

To remind you of an additional twist to the whole DNA evidence issue:

Believe it or not, if you are convicted of a crime, you have no right to the DNA evidence. No constitutional right, that is.
To be clear, most states do provide for access to DNA material; But in many states, the fight for the DNA material from a crime scene can go on for years, even decades. In Alaska, [...] there is no right at all to test DNA on appeal from a conviction -- none. That means that an innocent person, who might be able to prove his wrongful conviction, simply cannot.

This was challenged last year in the Supreme Court, which ruled that convicts have no Constitutional right to DNA evidence -- that it is up to the states and Congress alone to decide.

As a scientist, I understand the theory behind DNA testing and have complete faith in it as an accurate way to place a criminal at the scene of a crime -- if and only if the evidence collection is tamper-proof. Therein lies the rub.

For all (?) of the innocent death-row inmates who could theoretically be exonerated through DNA evidence, exactly how many innocents could be, or have been, convicted wrongly of any crime through targeted attacks on their liberty by law enforcement or the State, using unimpeachable, yet possibly inaccessible or fraudulent, DNA evidence as a weapon?

DNA evidence can be made to tell lies a plenty. (image: Getty)