For years, DNA evidence has been considered the decisive factor in forensic cases. On many occasions DNA has proven suspects guilty or helped to prove their innocence. With so much in the news lately about DNA evidence, we had to ask: is it living up to its promise? With all the publicity surrounding the Making a Murderer documentary regarding the convictions of Steve Avery, one certainly cannot dismiss that this once powerful piece of evidence is suddenly back under the microscope.
What is DNA
DNA is the code that determines a person’s physical attributes, such as hair and eye color. During a criminal investigation, DNA samples are collected and analyzed. These DNA samples are then compared to the DNA samples of possible suspects. If the DNA collected at the crime scene matches the DNA of a suspect, the samples are deemed “quality”. The sample is then used as evidence, and the suspect convicted for the crime.
Is DNA Evidence Reliable
DNA evidence may not be as reliable as once believed. For example, in the case of Lukis Anderson, his DNA was transferred to a location he had never visited. While Anderson was at a local hospital, the paramedics who admitted him inadvertently transferred another person’s DNA onto him. As it turns out, the DNA was that of a murder victim, Raveesh Kurma. When police found the DNA on Anderson, he was arrested. The case appeared to be closed and Anderson was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. Luckily, the truth was discovered five months later, and Anderson was released.
In addition to DNA being easily transferred, it can also be fabricated. Israeli scientists published a paper in 2009 outlining how DNA evidence can be counterfeited, and that it is not impossible to create a fake DNA profile. In addition, if a suspect’s DNA is found at the scene of a crime, it is still not indisputable evidence of their guilt.
With this in mind, we have to ask, do you think DNA evidence should still be admissible in court?