Proof: ; Expand DNA Evidence

By Gzedit | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), January 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

Proof: ; Expand DNA Evidence


Gzedit, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable in criminal prosecutions. It's better if police can produce solid physical evidence such as fingerprints, surveillance videos, blood samples - and the supreme master proof: DNA.

Deoxyribonucleic acid - the double-helix molecule containing the genetic code in the nucleus of every living cell - is a perfect identifier of crime suspects, because no two humans (not even identical twins) have exactly the same DNA. Traces of blood, saliva, semen, hair, skin flakes, fingernails or other residue at a crime scene can be analyzed to pinpoint a culprit - or to exonerate an innocent suspect, if samples don't match.

Back in 1995, the Legislature mandated that DNA samples from all convicted West Virginia violent criminals must be kept in a database, to be screened when future crimes occur. All other states (except Idaho) have similar laws. The evidence is pooled nationally in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, which now contains 9.4 million samples. It is used in thousands of prosecutions.

Cyrus Vance, who died in 2002, was a famous Clarksburg native who became President Jimmy Carter's secretary of state. This newspaper named him West Virginian of the Year in 1963. Today, his son, Cyrus Jr., is Manhattan district attorney - and a crusader for more DNA evidence. …

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