You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Austin crime lab bucked DNA standard for years, yet got passing grades


In 2010, an influential national organization of scientists devoted to ensuring that forensic labs employ only the latest and best methods of analyzing DNA evidence published a new set of guidelines. In essence, the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods concluded that analysts should use the quality of genetic samples, rather than the quantity of evidence gathered at a crime scene, to decide if they could produce a confident genetic profile.

Despite their increasing importance in criminal investigations, forensic labs in the U.S. aren’t regulated, but rather voluntarily adhere to a set of evolving standards. So the working group, along with the federal government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, set about spreading the new best practices.

Over the next five years, the organizations held numerous training sessions, conducted surveys and visited forensic labs. They stressed that using the older methods could lead a lab to overstate the confidence of its findings — which could result in improper criminal prosecutions. By 2015, every lab across the country that John Butler, a forensic science expert for the national institute, was aware of had adopted the improved method, he said.

All, that is, except one: the DNA lab on Springdale Road operated by the Austin Police Department.

“They were doing calculus problems still using two plus two equals four and algebra math,” Butler said. “Their statistical tools were not sufficient to address the task at hand.”

For the full story, click here



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

As controversy swirls, feral hog bait manufacturer pulls out of Texas
As controversy swirls, feral hog bait manufacturer pulls out of Texas

A grand experiment by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller to hasten “the feral hog apocalypse” is on hold after the company producing a bait meant to kill the destructive animals has asked the Texas Agriculture Department to withdraw its approval of the product. The rollout of the product, Kaput Feral Hog Bait, had faced wide skepticism...
JUST IN: Pedestrian killed in crash involving Burnet Co. reserve deputy, authorities say

A pedestrian was killed in a crash over the weekend that involved a Burnet County reserve deputy, the sheriff’s office confirmed on Tuesday. The crash happened around 2:31 a.m. on Saturday when a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria headed northeast on RM 963 hit a man who was lying in the roadway near Oakalla in northeast Burnet County, about 12 miles...
Scared of snake encounters with warm weather? Stay cool, experts say
Scared of snake encounters with warm weather? Stay cool, experts say

As summer approaches and temperatures continue to increase across the region, chances for running into snakes are getting better. Evening temperatures in Austin will be hovering around 70 degrees later this week, so the nighttime hunters may be more likely to be on the move. Most snakes scattered throughout Central Texas pose little or no threat to...
Scared of snake encounters with hot weather? Stay cool, experts say

As summer approaches and temperatures continue to increase across the region, chances for running into snakes are getting better. Evening temperatures in Austin will be hovering around 70 degrees later this week, so the nighttime hunters may be more likely to be on the move. Most snakes scattered throughout Central Texas pose little or no threat to...
Man runs into burning building twice to save beer, police say
Man runs into burning building twice to save beer, police say

A man faces obstruction charges after police in South Dakota said he ignored orders from firefighters and ran twice into a burning building to “save” his beer. Sioux Falls police spokesman Officer Sam Clemens told KELO that Michael Casteel, 56, ignored a police officer who tried to stop him on Sunday from running into a burning apartment...
More Stories