Police dbate DNA technique: guilt by association?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Smashy, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. Smashy

    Smashy

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    Feb 9, 2010 (3:02p CST)
    By P. SOLOMON BANDA (Associated Press Writer)

    DENVER - Police in at least two states are increasingly using a DNA crime-solving technique that some legal experts say amounts to guilt by association: If your brother, father, uncle or son has been in trouble with the law and is in a DNA database because of it, you, too, could fall under suspicion.

    The technique is known as a "familial DNA" search. And in what is believed to be a precedent-setting case, Denver police used it to help catch the burglar who left a drop of blood on a passenger seat when he broke a car window and stole $1.40 in change.

    A growing number of law enforcement agencies nationwide are considering whether to adopt the technique, which scientists say holds great promise.

    "How can we look a rape victim in the face and say, 'We could have prevented your rape if we had looked at this evidence?'" said Fredrick Bieber, a Harvard medical professor who co-wrote a research paper suggesting familial DNA searches could solve up to 40 percent more crimes in which DNA evidence is present.

    The conventional way of using DNA to identify the perpetrator of a crime is to gather blood, semen or other genetic material at the scene and run it through a database of criminals to see if it yields an exact match. But that approach isn't helpful if the perpetrator is not in the database.

    That is where a familial DNA search comes in. It entails looking through the database for a near-match - that is, for a close male relative of the perpetrator. Police can then use that information to zero in on whoever committed the crime.

    The legality of such searches has not been tested in court, but it may be just a matter of time. Critics complain the technique could subject innocent people to arrest or hours of interrogation.

    "It makes absolutely no sense," said Erin Murphy, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "Other than the misfortune of having a relative that has gotten in trouble, there's no distinction in their likelihood of having committed a crime."

    California and Colorado are the only states to expressly allow authorities to conduct familial DNA searches of its statewide databases. Maryland has banned the practice.

    In Denver, District Attorney Mitch Morrissey pushed for the familial DNA search in the 2008 car break-in.

    The blood did not match anyone in the county's DNA database of 1,700 convicted felons. So authorities searched the database for a near-match and came up with the name of a convicted criminal. From there, investigators narrowed their focus to the criminal's brother, Luis Jaimes-Tinajeros.

    Jaimes-Tinajeros was ultimately arrested and pleaded guilty last September after a second DNA sample - obtained by court order - definitively determined the blood was his.

    Jaimes-Tinajeros is believed to be the first person convicted through this kind of database search in the U.S., Morrissey and other legal observers say.

    Morrissey contends such searches are legal, and he has become one of the nation's leading proponents of the practice.

    "In a serious investigation, wasting time can lead to more crimes being committed," he said.

    While Jaimes-Tinajeros declined comment, his mother objected to the tactic in an interview in October. "They're suspecting him just because his brother committed a crime?" said Teresa Tinajeros. "He pleaded guilty because he's scared."

    The technique involves a close examination of the Y chromosome - the male sex chromosome - in both the crime-scene DNA and the database samples. The probability of a genetic link can be established with 90 percent confidence, Morrissey and Bieber said.

    Because it relies on the Y chromosome, this technique cannot be used to arrest women. There is no equally reliable way of tracing suspects through the X chromosome, Morrissey said.

    The use of familial DNA is not new to police work. It has been employed in high-profile cases in Britain for years, while police in the U.S. have used familial DNA from time to time in situations where they already had a suspect in mind and needed to confirm their suspicions.

    The difference now is that U.S. authorities are conducting blind searches of databases for suspects unknown to police.

    The FBI does not allow such searches of the national database, which contains 7.4 million DNA samples. The 1994 law creating the database neither authorized nor banned such searches, said D. Christian Hassell, the FBI lab director who oversees the system.

    Hassell said the agency is studying the issue and Congress may have to weigh in, adding that neither he nor the agency has a position on the matter.

    Before the database was created, the National Research Council of the National Academies said such searches should not be conducted. The council, which advises the government on scientific matters, noted "serious issues of privacy and fairness" because the practice could cast suspicion on relatives who have committed no crime.

    In California, officials require police to pursue all leads - witnesses, fingerprints, photo lineups - before a familial DNA search can be done. Six searches have been conducted since October 2008 but have not turned up anything.

    "Once all leads have been exhausted, this is the last attempt to help solve the case for law enforcement," said Jill Spriggs, who is chief of California's Bureau of Forensic Services and on the board of the American Society of Crime Lab Directors.

    Last year, Colorado adopted its own safeguards. Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director Ron Sloan said local law enforcement agencies must undergo training in such searches and must agree to check public records to verify a family relationship before questioning potential suspects.

    "We built in significant and substantial safeguards for privacy issues for families of potential offenders," Sloan said.


    http://kai03.qwest.com/WindowsLive/...ient=landingpage&qid=2by05rymardlml45pehwc3ay
     
  2. Smashy

    Smashy

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    Oops. Title typo.
     

  3. Brian Lee

    Brian Lee Drop those nuts

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    It sounds like a good idea to me. I'll give it a thumbs up.
     
  4. Hartford

    Hartford

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    DNA test for a dollar and forty cents?
     
  5. Scotsman

    Scotsman Unauthorized Green Beans

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    When they can apply a similar technique for women then I'll have less of a problem with it. Til then, no go.
     
  6. ICARRY2

    ICARRY2 NRA Life Member

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    I think it is a great idea! I would like to see it applied at the FBI and in every state.

    I am not surprised to see multiple scumbags in one family. Put them all away.

    I just hope they can find a way to help catch more female criminals using this method.
     
  7. NorthCarolinaLiberty

    NorthCarolinaLiberty MentalDefective

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    So I've dissolved all ties with my family and they will still haunt me. Terrific.
     
  8. DScottHewitt

    DScottHewitt EMT-B

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    I thought you were trying to be hip and cool.
     
  9. DScottHewitt

    DScottHewitt EMT-B

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    And how many bills does a DNA test run now?!?!?
     
  10. LongGoneDays

    LongGoneDays Misanthropical

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    + the damage to the car. The guy didn't know he was only stealing $1.40 either.
     
  11. DScottHewitt

    DScottHewitt EMT-B

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    Even with the cost of the window, it probably did not rise to a felony most places.

    And, it's not like they charge you based on you "might have" stolen a million $
     
  12. Kith

    Kith

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    I think if I got nailed on a dna test for less then two dollars, I would sue the state for misappropriation of funds.

    I don't do those kind of things, but it seems like a waste of taxpayer resources.

    I'm not against dna testing, but it costs money and this is a good example of why oversight should be in place.

    I get it that they are trying to push the technique through, and it's more to show that it works then to actually use it, but they could've picked something more worthwhile then this to use it on.

    They just set the severity level for dna testing in that area, now they have to do it for anything more severe then that.

    P.S. - national dna database = bad,... very, very, bad.
     
  13. articulate

    articulate

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    Come on guys, think outside the box here.

    Of course they aren't going to go through all the trouble and cost to run DNA tests on a $1.40 theft from a vehicle. However... maybe, just MAYBE, there was more to it. Maybe the suspect in this case is the same suspect that was responsible for hundreds of similar auto/home/business burglaries in the same area over a period of time, responsible for stealing $100k plus of property and tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Same MO/area/timeframe for all these crimes, obviously the same suspect(s), but no evidence has ever been recovered and all investigative leads run dry. Finally, FINALLY, one time only, a single drop of blood is recovered from one of the victimized vehicles. Suddenly, a major break, and the suspect is identified. Sure, you can only nail him in court for the one charge (unless he confesses to everything), but you hammer him to the max, knowing that he is responsible for the entire series of crimes. Bad guy from the single drop of blood is caught and convicted, and ba da bing all the other crimes come to a halt. Case closed.

    Also, it may make a difference that Denver was the recipient of millions of dollars in federal NIJ grant funding for a pilot project to further the use of DNA evidence in solving property crimes.
     
  14. malakas

    malakas Lifetime Member

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    Great, let's trade even more liberty for the illusion of security. Gotta love the "search me master, I have nothing to hide" scum bag sheep who will submit to anything and everything for a "safe society". This is EXACTLY the same line of thinking that the masses will embrace when they send out the door kicker war criminal gun grabbers. Maybe they only start with "assault weapons" and then only handguns, followed by "military style" shotguns and "high powered" rifles but the same sheep who like "family DNA" nonsense will be part of the same masses who will be more than happy to come after YOUR guns (even if they are gun owners themselves) because of this same subservient line of thinking.
     
  15. CAcop

    CAcop

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    1) Do you think he just broke into the one car?

    2) Breaking into a locked car and stealing ANYTHING is burglary in CA.
     
  16. DScottHewitt

    DScottHewitt EMT-B

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    1) I think they said they had DNA from ONE car.

    2) Thank you. Didn't think about it adding to the severity of the charges. My bad.