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Old 09-16-2010, 09:28 PM
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DNA evidence can be useful in the following situations: If it would be difficult or almost impossible for the crime to have been committed without the perpetrator leaving behind his own DNA or there is DNA evidence at the crime scene that could only have (or very probably) came from the perpetrator. An example: A victim who was strangled to death has fresh blood or tissue under her fingernails. This probably happened when she was fighting back and she scratched the perpetrator. Therefore, this blood and tissue needs to be tested for DNA. If it doesn't belong to the person who was convicted, there is a strong probability that the person is innocent -- unless there is credible evidence that more than one person was involved.

Here is another example from a famous case in Colorado -- the Tim Masters case. Victim was murdered, and her body was dumped in a field. The body was then mutilated and posed. Her pants and panties were pulled down, and her vagina was cut open. The perpetrator would have had to pull her pants and panties down, and therefore, he would have touched certain places on her clothes and grabbed on hard enough that he would have left little bits of shed skin cells behind. There is a very new and sophisticated DNA test that can test the DNA in these microscopic pieces of dead skin. The clothes were tested, DNA was found that did not belong to the victim, but guess what!! It wasn't Tim Masters' DNA either. The DA then "surrendered" and Tim Masters went free after being locked up for 10 years. This DNA test wasn't even available at the time of Tim's trial in 1998.

Many people were wrongly convicted of rape and/or murder before DNA testing even became available. Especially rape cases where the victim was lying. Another famous case is Gary Dotson in Illinois. He was convicted in 1979 based on the testimony of the "victim." She had a large semen stain in her underwear. There was no DNA testing in 1979, but fortunately, her underwear was saved. Several years later, she recanted, and told the judge that she made the whole thing up and falsely accused Mr. Dotson because she was afraid of getting in trouble for having sex with her boyfriend. (She was just a young teenager). However, the Judge ruled that her recanted testimony was not "credible" and refused to give Mr. Dotson a new trial. However, the governor commuted his sentence anyway, so he got out. He still maintained his innocence. Then, years later, DNA testing became available. Because people were curious, the semen stain in the underwear was finally tested. And, guess what!! The DNA in the semen did not belong to Gary Dotson, but belonged to the boyfriend!! This was a big relief to Gary Dotson because it conclusively proved that he was telling the truth and he was wrongly convicted.

However, in cases, especially recent cases, where the forensic evidence was thoroughly tested for DNA, it is unlikely that future tests will yield different results. As DNA testing becomes more and more sophisticated, and these sophisticated tests are done before trial, there will be fewer and fewer stories like the Gary Dotson and Tim Masters story.
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