‘My Conclusions Were Wrong,” Says Expert in TX Murder Case

Bloodstain-pattern analysis was a key to convicting high school principal Joe Bryan of murdering his wife. More than three decades later, an expert witness says, “Some of my testimony was not correct.”

A hearing to determine whether former Texas high school principal Joe Bryan should be granted a new trial for murdering his wife came to a dramatic conclusion on Monday with a surprise, eleventh-hour admission from the expert witness whose testimony had proved critical, reports ProPublica. “My conclusions were wrong,” retired police detective Robert Thorman wrote in an affidavit introduced by the defense regarding his bloodstain-pattern analysis. “Some of the techniques and methodology were incorrect. Therefore, some of my testimony was not correct.”

Bloodstain-pattern analysis is a forensic discipline whose practitioners regard the drops, spatters and trails of blood at a crime scene as clues, which can sometimes be used to reverse-engineer the crime. Thorman had only 40 hours of training when he was called in to work on the Bryan case. His testimony about a blood-speckled flashlight that Mickey’s brother found in the trunk of Bryan’s car four days after the murder made the state’s tenuous theory of the crime seem plausible. At Bryan’s trial in 1986 and again at his 1989 retrial, Thorman testified that tiny flecks of blood on the flashlight could only be “back spatter” — a pattern that indicated a close-range shooting. Thorman said the killer had likely held the flashlight in one hand while firing a pistol with the other. Bryan had been attending a principals’ convention in Austin, 120 miles from where the murder occurred in Clifton, Tx. in the days surrounding the murder. Thorman, now 80, did not specify which parts of his testimony had been incorrect.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Why Do We Still Use ‘Junk Science’ to Convict? Blame the Judges

Despite two hefty federal reports casting doubt on the validity of traditional forensic evidence such as bitemark and hair strand analysis, such questionable science is still used in the courtroom to determine guilt or innocence, according to an Albany Law Review study.

For decades, the criminal justice system in the United States has convicted defendants on the basis of forensic evidence–some of which we now know to be highly suspect or “junk” science. But years after the National Academy of Sciences raised questions about hair strand, shoe print and bitemark analyses, and other forensic methodologies, courts are still admitting them as evidence.

Why is scientific evidence with a high rate of error making its way into court? The answer: trial judges, who act as “gatekeepers” and have the power to decide whether or not forensic evidence is admissible, are admitting them, according to an Albany Law Review study.

Judges typically adhere to precedent. Even though the National Academy of Sciences Report, issued in 2009, established that many of the once commonly accepted forensic tests were shown to “lack scientific validity or to be of only limited probative value,” courts are still admitting expert testimony on the basis of them.

“We know juries place great weight on scientific-sounding evidence, disregarding all other evidence to the contrary,” said the study’s authors, noting that post-conviction DNA testing and exonerations have long since cast doubt on such evidence.

The study, entitled “It’s Not a Match: Why the Law Can’t Let Go of Junk Science,” was authored by Aliza B. Kaplan of Lewis & Clark Law School, and Janis C. Puracal of the Oregon Innocence Project and Maloney Lauersdorf Reiner, PC.

The National Academy of Science (NAS) conclusions were strengthened by the subsequent President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (“PCAST”) Report, issued in 2016. They reviewed whether forensic evidence, such as DNA testing and bite mark analysis, are supported by reproducible research and, thus, reliable.

Both concluded that a great deal of forensic evidence is insufficiently tested for validity and reliability. The NAS Report, for instance, claims that “[m]uch forensic evidence—including, for example, bite marks and firearm and toolmark identifications—is introduced in criminal trials without any meaningful scientific validation, determination of error rates, or reliability testing to explain the limits of the discipline.”

Of the decisions reported since the release of the NAS Report in 2009, 97 cases mentioned the NAS Report , but just ten decided to challenge forensic evidence or to agree post-conviction that the evidence should’ve been excluded. Since the release of the PCAST Report, seven cases mention PCAST and most of those courts chose to admit questionable forensic evidence over the objections of the defendant.

A forthcoming study, “Forenisic Bitemark Identification Evidence in Canada,” found that the Canadian Supreme Court has repeatedly directed trial judges in that country to exercise a robust gatekeeper role when faced with requests for admission of invalid science. But none of the courts excluded bite mark analysis, nor questioned the scientific validity of the practice.

The study also found that there were “14 cases in which courts relied on a forensic bitemark identification, a number that likely underestimates the use of this practice.”

“Still,” the reported added, “in the cases we found, forensic bitemark experts overstated the accuracy and reliability of their practice, and did not appear to disclose the considerable controversy in the field.”

That study was conducted by Jason Chin of The University of Queensland – T.C. Beirne School of Law, and D’Arcy White of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law.

Today, the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) 702 guides decision-making on admissibility of scientific evidence. It declares that a trial court consider “whether the expert is proposing to testify to (1) scientific knowledge that (2) will assist the trier of fact to understand or determine a fact in issue,” in deciding to admit evidence and testimony. The admissibility of scientific evidence in trial court is determined by the judge.

And judges remain the principle obstacles.

The Supreme Court of Utah has noted that lawyers and judges “tend to comfortably rely upon settled legal precedent and practice, especially when long-settled technical rules are concerned, and to largely ignore the teachings of other disciplines, especially when they contradict long-accepted legal notions.”

Nevertheless, chances of reform coming from the federal government are slim. Following the release of the PCAST report, no plan for change was implemented by the Obama administration. In April 2017, the Department of Justice announced it wouldn’t be renewing the National Commission on Forensic Science.

Attorney Generals Loretta Lynch and Jeff Sessions have both expressed confidence in the status quo, the Albany study noted.

Individual states, however, have made strides in improving how the courts handle forensic evidence. The Texas legislature blazed a trail by establishing the Texas Forensic Science Commission. The intention of the Texas Commission is to “investigate complaints involving forensic disciplines,” to “establish procedures, policies, and practices to improve the quality of forensic analyses conducted in Texas,” and “to establish licensing programs for forensic disciplines.”

The Texas Forensic Science Commission comprises seven independent scientists and two attorneys, a prosecutor and a defense lawyer, who are unpaid and make nonbinding recommendations on forensic matters. The Texas Commission can hear from experts in an area, review studies, and collaborate with professionals in the justice system to improve education and training in forensic science and the law.

The solution proposed by the study is the creation of a “state-specific forensic resource counsel,” something that already exists in North Carolina. The job of North Carolina’s forensic resource counsel is “to assist North Carolina public defenders and private appointed counsel in understanding and if appropriate, challenging the forensic science evidence in their cases.”

In order to establish a conversation between the law and science, a forensic resource counsel would be responsible for “assembling commissions to review forensics within the state, proposing and appearing as amicus in hearings before Special Masters to explore advances in forensic methodologies and necessary changes in the law; collaborating with forensic resource counsel, lawyers, and experts in other states to find independent scientists who can further the research and assist with facilitated conversations with prosecutors, defense counsel, and judges; and offering seminar trainings for prosecutors, defense counsel, and the judiciary.”

The rigor and precision of forensic sciences is generally accepted by the public, but in the light of new evidence, a slow-to-change legal system will continue to potentially ruin lives unnecessarily.

The full study of, “It’s Not a Match: Why the Law Can’t Let Go of Junk Science”, can be found here.

The full study of, “Forensic Bitemark Identification Evidence in Canada,” is available here.

John Ramsey is a TCR news intern. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

New Report on Police Digital Forensics Techniques

According to a new CSIS report, "going dark" is not the most pressing problem facing law enforcement in the age of digital data: Over the past year, we conducted a series of interviews with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, attorneys, service providers, and civil society groups. We also commissioned a survey of law enforcement officers from across the…

According to a new CSIS report, "going dark" is not the most pressing problem facing law enforcement in the age of digital data:

Over the past year, we conducted a series of interviews with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, attorneys, service providers, and civil society groups. We also commissioned a survey of law enforcement officers from across the country to better understand the full range of difficulties they are facing in accessing and using digital evidence in their cases. Survey results indicate that accessing data from service providers -- much of which is not encrypted -- is the biggest problem that law enforcement currently faces in leveraging digital evidence.

This is a problem that has not received adequate attention or resources to date. An array of federal and state training centers, crime labs, and other efforts have arisen to help fill the gaps, but they are able to fill only a fraction of the need. And there is no central entity responsible for monitoring these efforts, taking stock of the demand, and providing the assistance needed. The key federal entity with an explicit mission to assist state and local law enforcement with their digital evidence needs­ -- the National Domestic Communications Assistance Center (NDCAC)­has a budget of $11.4 million, spread among several different programs designed to distribute knowledge about service providers' poli­cies and products, develop and share technical tools, and train law enforcement on new services and tech­nologies, among other initiatives.

From a news article:

In addition to bemoaning the lack of guidance and help from tech companies -- a quarter of survey respondents said their top issue was convincing companies to hand over suspects' data -- law enforcement officials also reported receiving barely any digital evidence training. Local police said they'd received only 10 hours of training in the past 12 months; state police received 13 and federal officials received 16. A plurality of respondents said they only received annual training. Only 16 percent said their organizations scheduled training sessions at least twice per year.

This is a point that Susan Landau has repeatedly made, and also one I make in my new book. The FBI needs technical expertise, not backdoors.

Here's the report.

from https://www.schneier.com/blog/

TX Panel Disputes Blood Evidence in Murder Case

A Texas state commission said the blood-spatter analysis used to convict Joe Bryan, a former high school principal of murdering his wife in 1985,was “not accurate or scientifically supported” and the expert who testified was “entirely wrong.”

A Texas state commission said the blood-spatter analysis used to convict a former high school principal of murdering his wife in 1985 was “not accurate or scientifically supported” and the expert who testified was “entirely wrong.” the New York Times reports. The findings of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, a national leader in forensic science reform, called into question the conviction of Joe Bryan, who has been in prison for more than 30 years. Bryan was the subject of an investigation by ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine that questioned the accuracy of the bloodstain pattern analysis used to convict Bryan, as well as the training of the experts who testify in such cases.

The findings support pleas by Bryan, now 77 and in poor health, for a new trial. He had been attending a convention in Austin, 120 miles from the murder, in the days surrounding the crime. The commission does not investigate the guilt or innocence of defendants but rather the reliability and integrity of the forensic science used to win their convictions. It has been re-examining bloodstain-pattern analysis, a forensic discipline whose practitioners regard the drops, spatters and trails of blood at a crime scene as clues. Some practitioners have been admitted as expert witnesses in courts despite having completed no more than a weeklong course in bloodstain interpretation. Robert Thorman, a police detective with 40 hours of training in bloodstain-pattern analysis, was a key prosecution witness in the Bryan case. His testimony about a blood-speckled flashlight found by the victim’s brother in the trunk of Bryan’s car after the murder was the linchpin of the prosecution’s case. What connection the flashlight had to the crime, if any, was never clear.

from https://thecrimereport.org

How Genetic Genealogy is Solving Cold Cases

The technique was not pioneered by the FBI or elite forensic experts but by a loose network of citizen scientists. The novel turn to crime-fighting has raised issues: Could the process finger the wrong person? Who will ensure police use genetic data responsibly?

A young couple on a trip in 1987 crossed paths with a killer. The man raped Tanya Van Cuylenborg and shot her in the head. Jay Cook was beaten and strangled. The killer left a pair of plastic gloves inside their vehicle, a gesture one detective interpreted as a taunt: You’ll never catch me. That was true for more than three decades. Then in April, CeCe Moore, a former musical theater actor with no background in law enforcement, cracked the case in three days, the Washington Post reports. Moore, working at Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs, put the killer’s DNA profile into a public genealogy website to find relatives and built a family tree that led to a suspect, William Earl Talbott II, who was charged in May.

Since the same technique was used to find the man accused of being the Golden State Killer, genetic genealogy has led to a flurry of breakthroughs in the coldest of cases, showing the potential to be a transformative tool for police. Parabon is the biggest player so far to work in the emerging field. Genetic genealogy was not pioneered by the FBI or elite forensic experts but by a loose network of citizen scientists. The novel turn to crime-fighting has raised issues: Could the technique finger the wrong person? Who will ensure police use genetic data responsibly? Should authorities rely on a public database that could be hacked or manipulated?  The process uses GEDmatch, a genetic clearinghouse that allows users to find relatives by comparing their genetic code against more than 1 million others. GEDmatch’s analysis is a quantum leap over traditional DNA matching used by law enforcement since the 1980s. The profiles uploaded to GEDmatch containing 600,000 DNA snippets, allowing the genetic genealogist to determine how closely people are related.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Dr. Henry Lee: The Celebrity Forensic Scientist

     Dr. Henry Lee has come as close to becoming a household name as any forensic scientist in U.S. history. He has achieved fame in a profession whose practitioners generally operate behind the scenes. In the criminal justice field, it’…

     Dr. Henry Lee has come as close to becoming a household name as any forensic scientist in U.S. history. He has achieved fame in a profession whose practitioners generally operate behind the scenes. In the criminal justice field, it's usually the defense attorneys who get the headlines, and in forensic science, it's often forensic pathologists like Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Cyril Wecht.

     In the 1930s, a pair of criminalists in the Seattle area, Oscar Heinrich and Luke May, achieved celebrity status by solving a number of celebrated murder cases. Clark Sellers, a handwriting expert from Los Angeles, made headlines with his testimony at the Lindbergh kidnapping trial in Flemington, New Jersey. In the 1960s, Dr. Paul Kirk, a forensic chemist from Berkeley, California became something of a celebrity. The peak of his notoriety came in 1995 when he analyzed crime scene blood-spatter patterns for attorney F. Lee Bailey in the infamous Dr. Sam Shepard murder case near Cleveland, Ohio.

     Dr. Henry Lee, because he rose to fame in the era of true crime television, has enjoyed a level of celebrity more intense and intimate than his well-known predecessors. He has made hundreds of television appearances, and hosted a show on Court TV called Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee. Dr. Lee's personality, demeanor, and life story have helped make him a bigger-than-life character. Like sports stars and major film and television actors, he tends to be vain and dramatic. On the witness stand, he informs jurors and, as a charismatic courtroom showman, entertains them. When Dr. Lee testifies for the prosecution, he's the defense attorney's worst nightmare. When he's appearing on behalf of the defense, it's not good news for the prosecutor. In either case, the media loves it, and so do the jurors.

     Dr. Henry Chang-Yu Lee was born in Rugao City, China on November 22, 1938. When Henry was four, the Chinese communists murdered his father. Two years later, his family fled to Taiwan to avoid the communist revolution. After graduating from the Taiwan Central Police College in 1960 with a degree in police science, Henry jointed the Taipei Police Department. Six years later, after rising to the rank of captain, he came to the United States where, in 1972, he graduated from New York City's John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a bachelor of science degree in science. In 1974, he earned a master's degree in biochemistry from New York University. A year later, he was awarded a Ph.D in biochemistry.

     In 1979, Dr. Lee became the director of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Laboratory where he also held the title of chief criminalist. Following his retirement from the lab in 2000, Dr. Lee began teaching at the University of New Haven where he founded the Henry C. Lee Forensic Institute. According to his resume, Dr. Lee has been awarded several honorary degrees, written more than 20 books (most with co-authors), published numerous scientific articles, given hundreds of speeches, investigated 4,000 homicide cases (not possible), and consulted with more than 300 law enforcement agencies.

The Wood Chipper Case

     Dr. Lee vaulted onto the national stage in 1986 when an airline pilot named Richard Crafts went on trial in Connecticut for murdering his wife, Halle. Having incurred her husband's wrath by announcing her plans to divorce him, Halle Crafts had covertly audio-taped his threats to to kill her. Perhaps even more incriminating, Richard Crafts was seen by a motorist, on the night of Halle's disappearance, operating a commercial-grade wood chipper in the midst of a blizzard along the bank of the Housatonic River. The audio-tape and the wood chipper sighting led the police to suspect Crafts of murdering his wife. But investigators had a serious problem: they didn't have a corpse. Faced with one of those maddening cases of a good suspect, but no physical evidence, the homicide detectives called on Dr. Lee

     In the couple's bedroom, Dr. Lee found traces of the victim's blood. When he examined a chainsaw that had been in the suspect's possession, Dr. Lee discovered hair follicles, traces of blood, and tissue that he identified as the victim's. In the rented wood chipper, Lee recovered the same, and at the spot where Richard Crafts had been seen operating the equipment, Dr. Lee found fragments of the victim's teeth and bones, along with follicles of her hair. It wasn't much, but it was enough to establish that Halle Crafts had been murdered. From this evidence, Dr. Lee was able to reconstruct the crime, theorizing that the defendant had bludgeoned his wife to death in their bedroom, frozen her body in a home freezer, cut her into pieces with the chainsaw, then shoved the body parts into the wood chipper which sprayed her remains into the river.

     The Crafts trial jury, obviously impressed with Dr. Lee and his evidence, found the defendant guilty of first degree murder. A few years later, while serving his life sentence, Richard Crafts confessed to murdering his wife. Featuring blood and gore, an attractive victim, a suburban killer, a dramatic trial, and scientific investigation in the mold of Sherlock Holmes, the wood chipper case turned Dr. Henry Lee into a celebrity forensic scientist.

William Kennedy Smith Case

     Five years after his famous Crafts murder trial testimony, Dr. Lee took the stand on behalf of a defendant named William Kennedy Smith who was on trail for an alleged 1991 date rape that dominated the news because of the Kennedy family connection. According to the accused, following a night of drinking in Palm Beach, Florida with his accuser, the two had engaged in consensual sex on the lawn of the Kennedy family estate. Dr. Lee, to help prove that the defendant's partner had consented to sex, testified that he had found no grass stains on the woman's pantyhose, evidence one would expect to find had there been a struggle. To illustrate this point, Dr. Lee produced a grass-stained handkerchief he had rubbed against the grass in his own yard. The jury found William Kennedy Smith not guilty.

     Dr. Lee's testimony in the Kennedy case drew criticism from John Hicks, the director of the FBI Laboratory, who called it "outrageous." Hicks characterized Dr. Lee's handkerchief experiment as unscientific, and labeled the conclusions drawn from it speculative. The crime lab director pointed out that the handkerchief was not made of the same fabric as the pantyhose, and the conditions that had created the handkerchief stains did not necessarily replicate the environment at the alleged crime site. Criticism of this type--that Dr. Lee's testimony is more theater than science--has followed him throughout his career.

The O. J. Simpson Case

     Dr. Lee's testimony on behalf of O. J. Simpson in 1995 did not endear him to many of his forensic science colleagues. In general, Dr. Lee's testimony in that case helped the Simpson defense in five ways. It depicted Los Angeles police detectives and crime scene technicians as incompetent; it suggested that blood evidence had been contaminated; it supported the theory that evidence against the defendant had been planted; it pushed the time of the crime forward 45 minutes which accommodated Simpson's alibi; and it laid the groundwork for the theory than Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman had been murdered by more than one person.

     On the last point, Dr. Lee's testimony contradicted the testimony of the FBI's renowned footwear identification expert, William Bodziak. Dr. Lee identified a bloody stain on an envelope and scrap of paper found in Nicole Simpson's house as a shoe print that didn't match the footwear--the Bruno Magli Italian designer shoes--prosecutors believed the defendant was wearing when he committed the murders. Mr. Bodziak testified that this bloody print had not been made by a shoe at all. Douglas Deedrich, also from the FBI Crime Lab, testified that the bloody pattern was in fact a fabric print.

     At the Simpson trial, Dr. Lee also raised the possibility that a bloodstain on Ronald Goldman's blue jeans had been made by a shoe that was not a Bruno Magli. On cross-examination, when pressed about this blood print identification, Dr. Lee said that if these patterns were footwear marks, they were not made by the Bruno Magli brand.

     Critics of Dr. Lee's testimony in the O. J. Simpson case called it an example of "blowing smoke"--a term referring to the giving of vague defense testimony intended to muddy the water in an effort to create reasonable doubt.

     Since his testimony in the O. J. Simpson case, Dr. Lee was involved in dozens of celebrated cases that included the JonBenet Ramsey murder, the Scott Peterson case, and the Phil Spector murder case where he was accused of removing a piece of crime scene evidence that might have incriminated the defendant.

     Dr. Lee's participation at various levels in so many cases involving such a variety of evidence and analysis is unusual for a forensic scientist. In the field, he is almost a one-of-a-kind practitioner. At the core of his expertise, he is a forensic serologist, one who examines crime scene biological stains to determine their identify and origin. As a crime scene reconstruction expert, one who determines what happened at the crime site by taking into consideration all of the physical clues, Dr. Lee is also a blood-spatter analyst. As one who studies physical evidence to figure out, after the fact, what occurred at the scene of the crime, Dr. Lee analyzes all kinds of physical evidence, including hair follicles, fibers, bite marks, bone fragments, brain matter, tissue, gunshot powder residue, soil, dust, pollen, and other forms of trace evidence.

     Dr. Lee also studies latent footwear and fingerprint patterns, and analyzes bullet trajectories. He's a generalist in a field of narrowly defined specialists. This has its appeal, and explains why he has been able to insert himself in so many cases. It may also be his weakness, because his expertise and knowledge, over all this forensic territory, is thin. One man can only know so much. Because science and ego are a bad mix, forensic science is best conducted by behind-the-scenes people who are not worried about living up to their press clippings.

       

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Texas Case Highlights Problems With Blood Evidence

Joe Bryan, a former Texas high school principal, is serving a 99-year prison term for the murder of his wife, which he probably didn’t commit. The case illustrates the issues surrounding dubious experts in bloodstain-pattern analysis.

Joe Bryan, a former high school principal from central Texas, is serving a 99-year prison term for the murder of his wife, Mickey, in 1985, a crime he probably didn’t commit, the New York Times argues in an editorial calling for his release. Bryan is behind bars because of tiny specks of what may or may not have been blood on a flashlight that may or may not have been planted in the trunk of his car. The evidence was introduced at trial through the testimony of a questionable expert witness. As a two-part series published by the New York Times Magazine and ProPublica lays out, there was no other physical evidence or motive tying Bryan to the crime. He was convicted on the word of detective Robert Thorman, who testified as an expert in bloodstain-pattern analysis. Thorman was certified after taking a weeklong course that now costs as little as a few hundred dollars.

A 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences found that “the opinions of bloodstain-pattern analysts are more subjective than scientific,” and, “The uncertainties associated with bloodstain pattern analysis are enormous.” It’s a good bet that there are other Joe Bryans in prisons because of highly unreliable forensic testimony, the Times says. The NAS report found significant problems with other kinds of forensic evidence, including  bite marks, tire treads, arson and hair samples. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has long sided with prosecutors and rejected efforts to look more critically at forensic sciences, let a national commission on the subject expire last year. This year, the Texas Forensic Science Commission imposed on Texas a requirement that bloodstain-pattern analysis be performed by an accredited organization, which should make it harder for prosecutors to introduce testimony by analysts with minimal training and qualifications.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Hypnosis Evidence Challenged in TX Death Row Cases

Some states ban the use of evidence gained from hypnosis, but Texas still embraces it. Two death row inmates are challenging it as “junk science.”

Hypnosis is a matter of life and death in Texas, the Dallas Morning News reports. Texas has the most robust U.S. forensic hypnosis program, training police officers across the state to sharpen or recall crime witnesses’ lost memories. As more states ban the practice, Texas law enforcement turns to it at least a dozen times a year. Two Dallas-area death row inmates are arguing it’s time to stop. Their executions have been delayed as they fight convictions they claim were based on “junk science.” Gregory Gardner, an attorney for both men, says, “Once you have, at a minimum, serious questions that a technique sent a man to death row, you need to change the way you use that technique … [hypnosis] “does so much more harm to innocent people than getting guilty people behind bars.”

Police who use “forensic hypnosis” as a “relaxation tool” to get witnesses and victims to recall what they saw believe it works and cite cases as proof. In 1978, Mary Vincent, 15, was hitchhiking in California when she was picked up by a merchant seaman who raped her, cut off her arms and abandoned her in a ravine to die. The teen survived but couldn’t recall what her attacker looked like until she was hypnotized. Lawrence Singleton, “The Mad Chopper,” was found and convicted. Hypnosis helped recover 26 California schoolchildren kidnapped in 1978 and helped convict serial killer Ted Bundy. Since its heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, forensic hypnosis has not only dwindled rapidly but has been banned in some places as unreliable. Joseph Green, past president of the American Psychological Association’s Society of Psychological Hypnosis, said movies have erroneously likened it to “truth serum.” An analysis of the National Registry of Exonerations found  at least 10 men who were freed after hypnosis helped put them behind bars.

from https://thecrimereport.org

‘Golden State Killer’ Suspect Tries to Block DNA Collection

The public defender for former police officer Joseph DeAngelo, 72, has filed a motion to stop efforts by the district attorney in Sacramento to take DNA, fingerprints and photos of DeAngelo’s body.

The former policeman accused of being the Golden State Killer headed back to court Thursday to fight prosecutors’ efforts to collect more of his DNA, the Associated Press reports. Diane Howard, the public defender for Joseph DeAngelo, 72, has filed a motion to block efforts by the district attorney to take DNA, fingerprints and photos of DeAngelo’s body. Prosecutors arrested DeAngelo last week and said they used DNA to identify him as the killer responsible for at least a dozen murders and 50 rapes across California between 1976 and 1986. The case was cold for decades, and the killer was known by nicknames such as the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker and, more recently, the Golden State Killer.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert got a warrant last week to gather the samples and photographs. Howard argued that the search warrant should be stopped because it was approved before DeAngelo was arrested and arraigned last week. Prosecutors say the search warrant is still relevant and said collecting the evidence won’t be “testimonial in nature.” The Associated Press and other news organizations have filed a motion to unseal the full search and arrest warrants for DeAngelo, which could provide additional details about the DNA techniques prosecutors used to identify him.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Few Illinois Nurses Trained to Treat Sex Assault Victims

Just 32 of the 200,000 registered nurses in Illinois are specially certified to work with the thousands of adult sexual assault patients who turn up in hospital emergency rooms in the state each year.

Just 32 of the nearly 200,000 registered nurses in Illinois are certified to work with adult sexual assault patients, reports the Chicago Tribune. Nearly 4,500 patients were seen in emergency rooms in the state for sexual abuse or rape in 2016. Despite health and government officials’ recommendations that sexual assault patients be treated by nurses trained to recognize trauma and collect evidence, many nurses receive no such training. The attorney general’s office said this month it is working with Illinois lawmakers to draft legislation that would require hospitals have a medical provider trained in sexual assault present within 90 minutes of a patient’s arrival. Hospitals would be required to implement this by 2023.

In a statement, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association said it supports forensic nurse training. But it said that deadline is not feasible because there are so many nurses to train in a specialty the group says few pursue or complete. Ann Spillane, the chief of staff for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, said hospitals refuse to prioritize staffing of trained professionals to treat victims. “In this midst of the #MeToo movement, it couldn’t be more clear that providing compassionate care to sexual assault survivors is not the hospitals’ priority,” she said. Three years ago, the attorney general tried to address the problem by hiring emergency room nurse Jaclyn Rodriguez to train her peers. She estimates 150 nurses in Illinois emergency rooms have completed the required 40 hours of training in sexual assault care and additional clinical work. But for national certification, nurses must pass the International Association of Forensic Nurses exam, and only 32 have completed that requirement.

from https://thecrimereport.org