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Old August 17, 2009, 10:07 PM   #1
Dust Monkey
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Interesting article about DNA from Israel

After reading this again, and from other outlets, this is really amazing. I would have never thought this possible. Just think of all the lawyers gearing up right now for possible re trials if this catches on.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/...n5248133.shtml

(CBS) Scientists in Israel have successfully fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA, potentially undercutting what has been considered key evidence in the conviction or exoneration in crime cases, the New York Times reported.

According to the newspaper, the scientists also demonstrated that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

"Any biology undergraduate could perform this,” said Dr. Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which is published online in the journal Genetics.


The paper asserts that while DNA analysis has become a centerpiece of law enforcement, the possibility that such evidence can be faked has not been considered.

"This is potentially huge news in the world of criminal justice, which hasn’t yet even fully had the time to embrace DNA for all of its uses," said CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. "And I suspect it won’t be long before defense attorneys are using this study to undercut DNA analysis and conclusions in cases all over the country."

"This is potentially terrible news for prosecutors and police and the military and all sorts of industries that use DNA testing to confirm or find information," Cohen adds. "As the paper’s author says, 'You can now just engineer a crime scene.' Good news for crime dramas on television but not so much to the criminal justice system."

"It’ll be interesting to see how the legal world reacts to it and whether this study will be embraced or scorned by DNA experts here in the States," Cohen said. "But you can be sure that before too long DNA evidence in criminal cases all over will be challenged based upon these findings."
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Last edited by Dust Monkey; August 18, 2009 at 10:38 AM.
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Old August 18, 2009, 12:46 AM   #2
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microsoft bought tech from an israelie lazer company that they turned into a controllerless gaming camera.

those folks ARE NOT messing around over there.
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Old August 18, 2009, 12:50 AM   #3
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The Israeli's don't mess around when it comes to technology. I think the US actually bought the idea for Stryker vehicles from them. And I'm pretty sure the US also snagged the idea for the Stryker mounted 120mm mortars from them also.
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Old August 18, 2009, 10:17 PM   #4
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Lets see if I understand this correctly...

It is now possible to "maufacture" specific DNA in a lab, using a DNA profile analysis as the instructions?

And the potential problem is that in criminal cases where DNA evidence is/has been used, lawyers can not claim that it was "faked" or planted, using lab manufactured DNA, to match the defendants actual DNA? Is that right?

I realize this might cause some trouble for the legal beagles (just a phrase, no insult intended), but it would seem to me that using a reasonable standard, it would be difficult to credit "lab made" DNA as being a plausible defense.

There's probably a movie in there somewhere, about evil cops using "manufactured" DNA evidence to frame an innocent man, but I would find that highly improbable in the majority of cases. Still, the beyond a reasonable doubt rules might wind up costing us time and money to prove, again.
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Old August 18, 2009, 11:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
I realize this might cause some trouble for the legal beagles (just a phrase, no insult intended), but it would seem to me that using a reasonable standard, it would be difficult to credit "lab made" DNA as being a plausible defense.
Another article, a bit more detailed is here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/sc...8dna.html?_r=1

The Israeli company that brought this to our attention also makes a forensic testing solution that will detect "lab made" from "natural" DNA. If the defense challenges the DNA evidence then the State lab can verify if the sample was lab-made or not. Apparently the lab-brewed examples lack a compound and are "not methylated" like natual DNA.

Of course, if the police want to frame someone, there are easier ways to do it than requiring a biolab. False testimony, faked lab results, planted evidence, etc.

I suspect that until the Israelis raised this issue, few people even suspected it could be done easily. I would think that it would be rare for prior cases to be reviewed solely because someone claims fake DNA was created. It might be workable when the only evidence tying the suspect to the crime was DNA evidence in police custody for months or where DNA evidence was believed and multiple credible "alibi" witnesses were not.
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Old August 19, 2009, 10:28 AM   #6
Dust Monkey
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I was not trying to say that cops will "fame" or "have framed" folks with fake DNA. I just thought is was interesting that this is possible, and it MIGHT have some impact on some criminal cases in the future. Nothing else.

BillCA, thanks for that link. It goes a little more in depth than the article I posted when it first hit the news...
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Old August 19, 2009, 10:29 PM   #7
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DM,

I gathered that. The important point was that the Israeli company has a way to detect fraudulent DNA samples. That makes questioning the DNA sample something that can be proven or disproven, should it come down to that.

Depending on the DNA evidence, it only means the person was at the scene or location at some time. If this isn't denied -- i.e. he had a legitimate reason for being there - then it only confirms that he was there.¹

Some authors have raised the question of a crime allegedly committed by one of two identical twins and the use of DNA. The "local" twin was at a wedding rehearsal at the time of the crime while his brother took his own family out to dinner at the time of the crime. And neither admitted to being at the scene. Fun puzzle for who-dunit fans.

¹ Certain DNA evidence can imply participation in the crime, such as in sexual crimes. Finding hair or small amounts of skin samples at the scene doesn't, alone, always imply involvement.
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Old August 20, 2009, 05:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Some authors have raised the question of a crime allegedly committed by one of two identical twins and the use of DNA. The "local" twin was at a wedding rehearsal at the time of the crime while his brother took his own family out to dinner at the time of the crime. And neither admitted to being at the scene. Fun puzzle for who-dunit fans.
Ther was some TV show episode based on that a while back. Was a real head scratcher until finally, the third identical sister showed up. There was three of them bad girls.
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Old August 20, 2009, 10:37 PM   #9
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Without going far afield here (and hijacking the thread) the author did a good job of research for his book. Alas, I gave it to someone else ... I think the name was similar to "The Doppleganger Gambit" (but wasn't the sci-fi story from the 60's).

The DNA evidence was hair found on the trousers of the deceased. Police, being sure that DNA at the scene and denial by suspects equals guilt, pursue the twin brothers looking for anything they can. It's a nightmare of survelliance, harrassment "interviews" and invasion of privacy. Both twins had met the victim, but were not "chummy". Turns out that one of the twins let the victim "test drive" his new convertible the same day he received a haircut. Thus, hair on the trousers. But it was done to show how DNA=Guilt in the minds of a lot of cops and DA's.

Who actually dunnit? I'm not giving that away. It'd spoil the whole story.

I thought how this might affect someone if their hair or skin samples were found, say, in the trunk of a victim's car where they'd been stuffed. Hair that fell off while being nice and helping someone put something in the trunk. Or hairs that are blown into the victim's range-bag and are found on the gun or his hand later.
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